Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannBachmann won't run for Franken's Senate seat because she did not hear a 'call from God' Billboard from ‘God’ tells Michele Bachmann not to run for Senate Pawlenty opts out of Senate run in Minnesota MORE (R-Minn.) is attacking Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeNFL player who kneeled for national anthem tackles Capitol Hill 'externship' Former Comey aide grilled by House panel for over seven hours Judiciary advances 17 judicial nominees MORE
 (D-Texas) for linking conservative Tea Party activists to the Ku Klux

Jackson Lee, according to several press accounts, recently told an 
NAACP conference that, “All those who wore sheets a long time ago have
 now lifted them off” and are identifying with the Tea Party.

Bachmann – a popular figure among Tea Party activists – criticized Jackson Lee’s comments in a Fox News interview Friday.

“Here you have a member of Congress saying that mainstream America, 
God fearing freedom loving patriots who object to this out of control
 spending, now they are part of the KKK?” Bachman said. “That's 
essentially what she is saying. I don't [know] any more of a worse smear that
 you could possibly have.”

The comments by Bachmann, who is seeking to form a House Tea Party Caucus, are the latest in a simmering debate about the extent of racism within the Tea Party.

NAACP delegates passed a resolution July 13 at their conference in
 Kansas City calling on the Tea Party to repudiate racist elements 
within its ranks.

“The resolution came after a year of high-profile media coverage of
 attendees of Tea Party marches using vile, antagonistic racial slurs &
 images. In March, respected members of the Congressional Black Caucus reported that racial epithets were hurled at them as they passed by a
 Washington, DC health care protest,” the civil rights group noted on its blog July 13, with photos of racist protesters accompanying the text.

But a number of prominent Republicans, including Republican National
 Committee Chairman Michael Steele and Sarah Palin, attacked the 

“I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand 
up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are
 somehow ‘racists.’” Palin wrote on her Facebook page.