In January, IREHR warned of the growing symbiotic relationship between Tea Party groups and anti-immigrant vigilante outfits in the special report, Beyond FAIR: The Decline of the Established Anti-Immigrant Organizations and the Rise of Tea Party Nativism. Now comes more evidence of Tea Party efforts to recruit from the dregs of the Minutemen. On May 22, the previously defunct Minuteman faction, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (aka MinutemanHQ.com), once run by Chris Simcox, sent out a “sponsored message” email to solicit support for the Tea Party Patriots (see full email below).
The email, signed by Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin, declared “The elections this November are the most important elections in history, and Tea Party Patriots will continue to play a major role in organizing and mobilizing the grassroots,” and sought to capture Minuteman contact information though a “2012 Tea Party Patriots Election Year Survey.” The email also included a button for former Minutemen supporters to donate to Tea Party Patriots.
Chris Simcox’ Minuteman group, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps Inc., closed down in 2010. Though using its website and email list, this was technically not a Simcox Minuteman email. The Declaration Alliance, the Virginia-based far-right fundraising group, took over the name and the website and sent this email.
Rick Shaftan of the Declaration Alliance wrote just after Simcox shuttered his operation, “We are saddened by the decision of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, Incorporated Board to terminate their corporate entity out of concern for their volunteers’ safety and accelerating liability threats, but we certainly understand it. … Declaration Alliance will continue with all the assistance and support to citizen vigilance on these vital issues we can muster. The www.MinutemanHQ.com website serving the broader Minuteman movement, and other efforts we are associated with in this fight will remain in full swing.”
Declaration Alliance campaigns on a number of Tea Party issues, including Islamophobic attacks on the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, Christian nationalism, and anti-environmental conspiracy-mongering.
At the moment, it is unclear how much, if any, the Tea Party Patriots paid the Declaration Alliance for the “sponsorship.” However, similarly sponsored emails between Right Wing groups have cost thousands of dollars.
Given recent revelations that Tea Party Patriots spent more than half of their 2010-11 income of $12.2 million on fundraising, clearly the group is not averse to spending to make more money. More importantly, the move by the Tea Party Patriots national office mirrors what’s been happening with many of the local Tea Party chapters – outreach to the remnants of the rapidly collapsing Minuteman chapters. Efforts like these, even if cynically done for fundraising purposes, further alter the Tea Party composition by bringing nativists even further into the fold.