It looks like Sarah Palin may be left holding the bag at a Tea Party event that almost no one else in the movement wants anything to do with.
The former Alaska governor still plans to speak at the much-maligned National Tea Party Convention next month in Nashville. “You betcha I’m going to be there,” she told Fox News last night.
That pledge comes despite the fact that in recent weeks, other planned speakers and sponsors have rushed to the exits amid concerns that the event’s organizer, Nashvillle lawyer Judson Phillips, intends to profit financially from the venture.
Yesterday brought the latest mass exodus. First, as we reported, the convention’s two other Republican speakers, Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee backed out in quick succession, with Blackburn declaring: “It’s a ‘We the people’ event and I think sometimes it’s become about ‘I the organizer,’ for the organizer.”
The lawmakers were followed out the door by the Tea Party Express, the group created by a GOP consulting firm, whose participation in the convention had been touted as a coup by the organizers — though TPE’s leaders took pains to make clear that they’re only backing out because they’re just so insanely busy lately.
In a press release sent out yesterday afternoon, a TPE spokesman declared:
We had fully expected to participate in this convention and were excited about this event. However, between our support for Scott Brown’s Senate campaign in Massachusetts, our launch of the ‘Defeat Harry Reid’ campaign in Nevada, and our planning for Tea Party Express III, we found ourselves over-extended and unable to take on the mini-tour and rally we had planned for the Tea Party Convention.
Earlier this month, two other major sponsors, the American Liberty Alliance and the National Precinct Alliance, had also withdrawn, citing concerns over financial arrangements for the confab, and questioning whether it represents the true grassroots spirit of the Tea Party movement.
Those departures came after a top conservative online activist blogged that the convention “smells scammy.”
And hundreds of tickets for the convention, now just a week away, are said to still be available.
Still, Palin seems as gung ho as ever. Her speaking fee has been reported to be as high as $100,000 though organizers have not confirmed the figure.