During my trip to Orlando last month, I had the opportunity to meet Sal Russo, an alumnus of the Reagan campaign team who helped organize the Tea Party Express tour. So when the liberal blog TPM portrayed the involvement of Russo’s firm in the Tea Party movement as scandalous, I blogged in Russo’s defense. Today I received this e-mail from Joe Wierzbicki of the Tea Party Express organization:
What’s disgusting about the TPM Muckracker hit on us is that it’s a totally bogus story – and the author knows it.
The $800,000 they cite was NOT paid to Russo Marsh + Associates. The vast majority of that money was to reimburse Russo Marsh + Associates for the efforts where we fronted the money in our capacity as the organizers of the Tea Party Express.
The monies that were paid to Russo Marsh + Associates was mostly to pay for subvendors such as Newsmax, Human Events, Southwest Airlines, the companies that did the “wrap” of the Tea Party Express buses, the Nevada TV and radio stations where we’ve aired our “Defeat Harry Reid” ad campaign, Fox News & CNN where we’ve run our national Tea Party Express ads.
And, Zachary Roth, the author of the TPM piece knew this information – and he acknowledged it with his line: “The services for which Russo, Marsh was paid appear to be legitimate campaign needs.”
But instead they decided to run with the headline and spin that the money was PAID to a GOP Firm. To most every person reading that story the perception would be that Russo Marsh + Associates pocketed $857,000 of the Tea Party Express money.
That simply is not true. Not even close.
And then Rachel Maddow of MSNBC last night (and the CBS blog, and dozens of other liberal blogs) have run with the story. I’m not sure how much these people in the secondary chain of this viral promotion understand that their advancing a bogus story. Maybe some of them do and they don’t care.
What seems obvious is that the only reason someone would advance a bogus story like this if they knew it to be bogus, would solely be to try to take a shot at the tea party movement in general, and smear the Tea Party Express in particular.
Again, thank you for your kind words of defense on this issue.
What you should know from our end is that our approach on this is to keep moving forward, and not be deterred from the work we are doing to organize Tea Party Express III (March 27-April 15), our planned participation with organizers of the Tea Party Convention in February, and the commencement of Round 2 of our “Defeat Harry Reid” television ad campaign on January 11th.
All the best to you,
Coordinator, Tea Party Express