Tea Party convention loses two Republican lawmakers over ethics concerns

Friday, January 29, 2010

Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) said Thursday that they will not speak at a convention of "tea party" activists next week in Nashville, as had been announced.

The two have been strong supporters of the tea-party movement, a loose confederation of conservative activists who opposed the federal bailouts of the financial system and auto giants GM and Chrysler, as well as President Obama's proposed health-care overhaul.

In separate statements, released by their congressional offices, the lawmakers said that appearing at the convention might conflict with House ethics rules. But they also said they are concerned about how money raised from the event will be spent.

Some activists have balked about the convention's $550 ticket price and the $100,000 fee being paid to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin to give the keynote address, saying the high prices are contrary to the movement's grass-roots image and preclude many activists from attending.

"There's just a tremendous amount of anger about the ticket price," said Philip Glass, head of the National Precinct Alliance.

Bachmann said critics should not view her withdrawal as a "repudiation" of the tea-party movement. "That couldn't be further from the truth," she said.

Judson Phillips, a Nashville lawyer who organized the convention, did not return calls seeking comment.

-- Associated Press

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