Tea Party irks new members with tactic to promote its event

A Tea Party tactic to pressure new lawmakers not to attend a privately sponsored orientation event in D.C. this weekend was unwarranted, according to frustrated incoming GOP House members.

Competing freshmen lawmaker orientation events over the weekend prompted the Tea Party leaders recently to encourage their followers to bombard newly elected GOP House members with the message that they must attend a Tea Party-sponsored event for local organizers instead of a separate orientation offered at the same time by the conservative Claremont Institute.

But incoming members say they never received an invitation to participate in the Tea Party Patriots event held in the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

"Nobody received any type of (invitation), it was just 'this is what's happening, please don't go here,' but I'm a big boy and I can choose where I need to go and where I need to be," incoming Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said in an interview on Sunday afternoon before heading into a meeting at the Capitol Hill Club, a Republican unofficial headquarters in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, with members of his freshmen class.

"I didn't know it was happening until I started getting inundated with emails and (messages) filling up my voicemail," West's colleague told The Hill.

One irate incoming member told The Hill that the Tea Party tactic to release personal contact information of the new class was "extremely counterproductive and, in all honesty, an incredible violation of privacy."

Tea Party Patriots coordinators sent out a message to followers late Saturday night with the subject line “FRESHMEN ORIENTATION CLARIFICATION” after it was apparent that they needed to repair the damage done as a result of poor scheduling.

“One of the main goals of the Tea Party Patriots is to help tea partiers across the country stay informed and communicate about issues which concern them. In doing so, we will occasionally ruffle feathers. And sometimes it requires that we step back and reevaluate our actions,” coordinators Jenny Beth Martin, Mark Meckler, Debbie Dooley, Sally Oljar, Diana Reimer and Dawn Wildman wrote.

Though they said they did not intend for Tea Partiers to “flood” new members' personal phones and emails with messages, they justified the decision as “this was our only way to communicate with them since they do not have an 'official' line of communication at the present time.”

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