Reps. Bachmann, Blackburn pull out of speaking slots at tea party convention

Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have withdrawn from their speaking slots at the National Tea Party Convention after controversy mounted about how proceeds would be used.

The convention is "for-profit," and the lawmakers worry that their participation might violate last week's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC. (For background on the ethics issue, see here.)

"Due to conflicting advice on whether Rep. Bachmann’s participation in the upcoming Tea Party Nation Convention would be in line with the Committee on Standards, Congresswoman Bachmann has decided not to participate in the event," said spokeswoman Debbee Keller.

Keller said the outspoken conservative congresswoman would "err on the side of caution," and stressed that her cancellation was not "a repudiation of the Tea Party Movement."

Blackburn also announced Thursday that she will withdraw from participation. The Tennessee Republican said she conveyed her doubts directly to the convention's organizer.

"I spoke to Judson Phillips this morning and let him know that I could not participate in the convention. I told him frankly that Tea Party Nation’s for-profit status has put many of his speakers in an awkward position," she said. 

A number of sponsors have also pulled out of the event after doubts were raised about whether organizers were trying to profit from the convention, despite organizers' claims to the contrary. 

Sarah Palin is still slated to speak at the event, scheduled for Feb. 4-6 in Nashville. Reports have emerged that she will receive a speaker's fee of $100,000, but neither Palin nor the convention's organizers will comment on her fees.