Still think the Tea Party movement is too crazy to have an impact? Get this:
Tea Party Inc. -- the cartel of AstroTurfing groups, right-wing media and political operatives that herd those grazing at the grass-roots -- have a powerful ally in the person of Ginni Thomas, wife of the arch-conservative Supreme Court justice, according to a report by Kenneth P. Vogel, published this morning in Politico
In November, Vogel writes, Thomas founded a think tank called Liberty Central with two donations -- one for $500,000 and one for $50,000 -- whose source the organization declines to disclose.
The group appears to be positioning itself as a hybrid think tank/advocacy group/campaign arm for the tea party movement. Last month, it endorsed its first candidate, Mike Lee, who defeated incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah in a Republican primary, and it intends to roll out a larger round of endorsements this month, according to Sarah Field, its policy director and general counsel.
By April, Ginni Thomas was addressing the tax day rally in Atlanta organized by the Tea Party Patriots, a national group that works closely with the AstroTurfing organizations FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. From Politico
Jenny Beth Martin, an Atlanta tea party activist who co-founded the influential national coalition group Tea Party Patriots, said Thomas has used her insider connections to help the movement, volunteering since December as sort of a Washington shaman for the Patriots, and “helping to navigate some of the waters in D.C.,” partly by making introductions.
“She’s been kind of a mentor, and when we had questions about things that we were doing, we bounced a few of the ideas off of her and also off of a few other people in D.C. just to make sure that what we were doing made sense,” Martin said.
Martin's coordinator, Debbie Dooley, told Vogel that Ginni Thomas also baked cookies for the Tea Party activists who came to Capitol Hill last March to lobby against the health-care reform legislation.
Ginni Thomas has been politically active for years. In 2000 she took flack for working on the Bush transition team even as her husband was hearing the case, Bush v. Gore, in which her husband backed her candidate, giving the election to George W. Bush by shutting down the Florida recount in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision.
Here's how it works: Tea Party Inc. is vying for control of the Republican Party. One of the biggest players in Tea Party Inc. is the AstroTurfing group, FreedomWorks, which is chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, for whom Ginni Thomas worked while the former Texas congressman occupied his leadership post in the Republican Party. Thomas also worked at the Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business organization with Matt Kibbe, who is now the president of FreedomWorks. Keeping it all in the family...