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Tea Party leader says he resigned because group got too close to the GOP

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“The organization had been doing things that associated it with the Republicans Party,” Meckler said Monday on MSNBC. “I’m not a Republican, and large numbers in the movement, 40 percent in the Tea Party movement, aren’t Republicans. So when they sponsored the Southern Republican Leadership debate to the tune of $250,000, really it was just kind of the final blow for me.”

Meckler also lamented what he viewed as the corporatization of the Tea Party Patriots.

“From my perspective, the Tea Party Patriots have become this big top-down organization raising multi-millions of dollars,” he said. “None of that money was flowing through to local people, or very little of it, and that’s just not what I’m about.”

Meckler resigned from his position as national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots last Friday.

In a statement, the group said the decision came after “months of discussions and good-faith differences” on how to best serve the Tea Party movement, but thanked Meckler for the “many good things” he had done.

In December, Meckler was arrested for trying to carry a gun onto an airplane. Meckler was licensed to carry the gun in California, and declared the weapon, as is required, but his license wasn’t valid in New York, where he was trying to board the plane.

In January, Meckler pleaded guilty on disorderly conduct charges, for which he paid a small fine.

Since the incident, Meckler has kept a lower profile, with co-leader Jenny Beth Martin becoming the public face of the Tea Party Patriots.

In 2010 Martin was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for her role in leading the group.

Meckler and Martin recently co-authored a book, Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution, which was released on Feb. 14.

The Tea Party Patriots claim to represent more than 3,000 Tea Party groups in all 50 states, the largest organization of its kind.