Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tea parties ask: Just who's behind Tea Party in Action?

TALLAHASSEE — Trouble is brewing among Florida's tea parties.

A West Palm Beach group called Tea Party in Action is being criticized by other tea party groups who allege the organization is a front for the Republican Party of Florida and a hired gun for special interest groups in Tallahassee. The group's executive director, Marianne Moran, dismisses the allegations.

The issue came to a head last week when Moran testified before a Senate committee on behalf of a bill to ban unions from using payroll deduction to collect dues.

"What does this bill have to do with tea party principle of limited government?'' asked Henry Kelley, president of the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party, in a letter to senators. "I can't see why a Legislature focused on limited government in a right-to-work state wants to tell union people what to do with their paychecks.''

Other tea party critics complain that while Moran appears in front of lawmakers promoting her organization and an alliance of 130 other conservative groups, she doesn't speak for all tea party activists.

"Marianne Moran seems to be a tea party of one,'' said Apryl Marie Fogel of Americans For Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group founded by the Koch brothers. "I don't know anyone who has ever been to a meeting. She is one person who tries to sound like she is the spokesperson for the group."

Moran, 30, has spent much of the legislative session testifying before lawmakers on behalf of her year-old organization. She has moved to Tallahassee for the session and said she is paying her own expenses. She said she is not a registered lobbyist but an unpaid volunteer for the nonprofit political advocacy group.

In addition to the union dues issue, Moran has met with legislators and advocated in favor of the repeal of rules regulations and against a bill to impose a cigarette tax on Miami tobacco company Dosal.

Her organization paid for radio ads targeting Melbourne Republicans Sen. Thad Altman and Rep. John Tobia for sponsoring the tobacco surcharge measures.

Fogel's group also supports the bills to deregulate professions but has been silent on the issue of the tobacco tax and the union dues fight.

Moran says she speaks only for her organization and the agenda agreed upon by its board of directors. The board includes her father, James Moran, a Boynton Beach lawyer and two other people.

James Moran is asking Gov. Rick Scott to appoint him to the South Florida Water Management District board. Last summer, Marianne Moran organized a protest at the agency's headquarters of the U.S. Sugar purchase by the district. Scott was a featured speaker.

"When I speak, I only speak on Tea Party in Action views,'' Moran said. "However, when there have been other issues other groups have supported, I feel it is my duty to let legislators know."

She won't disclose donors to her organization but said they "have had plenty of meetings" and, based on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, estimates the numbers are "six to seven thousand."

Tea Party in Action's Facebook page lists 1,080 fans and Moran's Twitter account includes 178 followers. It was started about a year ago at about the same time Scott announced his gubernatorial campaign. The governor has used the group to push his legislative agenda.

Kelley of Fort Walton Beach said his members are frustrated that Moran's focus distracts from their attempt to keep pressure on lawmakers on fiscal issues.

"The issues she's on sound like she's carrying the RPOF's water," he said. "Yes, we align with a lot of Republican Party principles. That is not the same as supporting Republican Party politics.''

He said he tells his members to focus on holding their local legislators accountable and stay away from groups that claim to have a statewide focus.

Everett Wilkinson of the South Florida Tea Party Patriots worked with Moran in founding the South Florida Tea Party but has since parted ways. He said that Moran's organization is not the only one that attempts to present itself as a grassroots group.

"I want to make sure we stay legitimate and these other organizations are political consultants based in D.C. and don't represent the tea party," he said. "Unfortunately, no one owns the name Tea Party.''

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@miamiherald.com.

Tea parties ask: Just who's behind Tea Party in Action? 04/20/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Cavern' closes westbound lanes on E Fletcher Avenue in Hillsborough County

    Roads

    Westbound lanes of E Fletcher Avenue are closed near the Hillsborough River to repair what the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office terms a "cavern" that formed under the roadway.

  2. Joss Whedon's ex-wife accuses him of cheating, being 'hypocrite preaching feminist ideals'

    Celebrities

    Joss Whedon made his name directing cult television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and big-budget action movies, which often featured women in empowering roles. Many applauded him for being a champion of women, a feminist in an industry accused of misogyny and sexism.

    Joss Whedon at the screening of "Much Ado About Nothing" in 2014. Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole alleged in an essay published by The Wrap on Sunday that Whedon had multiple affairs during their 16-year marriage. (Associated Press)
  3. Pasco school's parents, principal seek compromise on behavior plan

    Blogs

    Leaders of a Pasco County elementary school that has come under criticism for its new behavior plan have offered an alternative model that sticks to its goals while also better considering younger children who might not understand the original terminology.

    This is the original chart that upset parents with wording such as "anarchy" and "conform to peer pressure" without any context.
  4. Jon Gruden, Rex Ryan meet with Jameis Winston on 'Hard Knocks'

    Bucs

    One of the interesting guest stars on HBO's "Hard Knocks", which covers every minute of the Bucs' training camp and preseason, has been Jon Gruden. The legendary former Tampa Bay coach has popped up from time …

    In a teaser clip from episode 3 of "Hard Knocks", Jon Gruden and fellow former coach Rex Ryan meet with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to discuss his past and future in the NFL. [HBO/NFL FILMS]
  5. German police seize thousands of 'Trump' ecstasy tablets

    National

    BERLIN — German police say they have seized thousands of tablets of the party drug ecstasy in the shape of Donald Trump's head, a haul with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900.)

    This undated  picture provided by Polizeiinspektion Osnabrueck police shows an ecstasy pill. German police say they have seized thousands of ecstasy pills in the shape of President Donald Trump's head, a haul  with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900). Police in Osnabrueck, in northwestern Germany, say they found the drugs during a check Saturday evening on an Austrian-registered car on the A30 highway. [Police Osnabrueck via AP]