A heated war of words has broken out between two conservative groups over conflicting GOP freshmen orientation events scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Leaders of the Tea Party Patriots are accusing establishment Republicans of colluding with the Claremont institute to indoctrinate and corrupt new GOP Congressional representatives. Claremont Institute officials flatly deny the allegation, asserting that they merely agreed to sponsor an existing conference organized by incoming Republican freshmen on behalf of their colleagues.
Early planning for the Claremont-sponsored event, which will take place at the Capitol Hill Club, was informally orchestrated by a cadre of freshmen-to-be, hailing from districts considered to be safely Republican. The group included Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who is also a member of the House GOP’s transition team.
The Tea Party Patriots (TPP) meeting was originally slated to offer workshops on the Constitution and limited government. It was also to include a discussion coordinated by another group, featuring former Reagan Attorney General Edwin Meese, outgoing Rep. John Shadegg, and Republican Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn. When TPP, a Georgia-based grassroots organization, caught wind of the rival event, they sent out an email to tens of thousands of supporters claiming that “DC insiders, the RNC, and lobbyists” were trying to “steal our new members of Congress.” They also worried that another event would undermine new member turnout at their conference, into which they had poured substantial resources. For example, the group had already booked travel arrangements to Washington for 170 state-level TPP leaders from across the country.
The email blast encouraged activists nationwide to call and e-mail GOP freshmen and pressure them to eschew the Capitol Hill Club summit in favor of TPP's grassroots event. To that end, the email contained personal cell phone numbers and email addresses of dozens of incoming members. Many of these numbers and accounts have been since shut down due to overwhelming, and sometimes harassing, feedback.