Lobbyist’s tea party tweet sparks new round of GOP infighting

In the latest episode of infighting among Republicans, the conservative political action committee the Madison Project criticized a tax lobbyist with the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform  on Thursday afternoon for calling tea party activists "retarded" in a tweet, prompting regret from the lobbyist, who said he shouldn't have used the language he did.

Early Thursday morning, Ryan Ellis, the tax policy director for Americans for Tax Reform, tweeted at conservative author and columnist David Freddoso:

In a statement later in the day, Ellis praised the tea party and said he choice of language was the wrong one.

"On Wednesday night I had a heated exchange with a few individuals on Twitter, and I used language I shouldn't have. Because this was a personal tweet, it should not be read as originating from anyone other than myself," Ellis said. 

His tweet was part of a longer conversation that began with Freddoso taking issue with a story suggesting that the health-care law could not proceed without funding from Congress. A back and forth involving several Twitter several users ensued about the use of the word "defunder" to refer to Republicans who sought to use the recently concluded budget standoff as a vehicle to try to defund the health-care law, known as Obamacare.

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Drew Ryun, political director of the Madison Project, which is often aligned with the tea party, sharply criticized Ellis's tweet in a statement.

“This offensive remark is exactly what’s wrong with the K Street Republicans in Washington, DC," said Ryun. "Instead of fighting for hard-working families that struggle every day to make ends meet, they choose to attack them. We work closely with the Tea Party movement and these people are salt of the earth Americans that take the future of our nation seriously."

In another tweet issued late Thursday afternoon, Ellis alluded to his earlier tweet, saying he should not have used the word.

In a Daily Caller op-ed published last week, Ellis slammed Republican lawmakers and groups spearheading the effort to defund Obamacare in the budget showdown.

Americans for Tax Reform is headed by by Grover Norquist, a well-known activist in the fiscal conservative movement. Norquist recently said that the effort to defund the health-care law "hurt" the conservative movement.

Below are the full statements Thursday from Ryun and Ellis.

Ryun:

“This offensive remark is exactly what’s wrong with the K Street Republicans in Washington, DC.  Instead of fighting for hard-working families that struggle every day to make ends meet, they choose to attack them. We work closely with the Tea Party movement and these people are salt of the earth Americans that take the future of our nation seriously. They are hurting from the costs of Obamacare and feel completely disenfranchised by the Washington elite. The last thing they deserve is to be disrespected by Grover Norquist and his so called ‘conservative’ operation. At the very least, the Tea Party deserves an apology from ATR.”

Ellis:

"The tea party is responsible for the grassroots success in the fight to tackle government spending over the past several years. Without the tea party, the Republican party would not have captured the House in 2010. Without the tea party, we would never have ended earmarks. That is why it was so annoying to see a Twitter argument with a couple of people (on my personal Twitter account) end up misrepresented by others. And worse, there was an effort to suggest that I was speaking for Americans for Tax Reform. Both misrepresentations were less than accurate or honorable. I have always had and continue to have the highest regard for the activism and successes of the modern tea party movement. One or two people trying to assert the opposite had to go to great lengths to suggest otherwise. On Wednesday night I had a heated exchange with a few individuals on Twitter, and I used language I shouldn't have. Because this was a personal tweet, it should not be read as originating from anyone other than myself. Last thought: If you don't enjoy Twitter arguments, stay out of them, and for heaven’s sake don’t try to jump in the middle and misrepresent somebody’s overall views. That is a violation of Twitter etiquette."

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