Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Troubles in the Tea Party: Memo from former Arkansas AFP director raises question about movement

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 10:02 AM

click to enlarge JASON CLINE: His Tea Party assessment suggests loss of steam in movement.
  • JASON CLINE: His Tea Party assessment suggests loss of steam in movement.
Mother Jones has obtained a lengthy memo written by Jason Cline, for a time the leader of the Arkansas chapter of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, a major Tea Party political organizing group.

As Mother Jones puts it, some in the Tea Party movement think it is withering and losing steam, particularly among the older people who powered it to some election successes. But the article is also interesting to Arkansas political junkies, for Cline's disagreements with Teresa Oelke, the former leader of the Arkansas AFP chapter who's risen in the Koch organization, and for some of the personal squabbling within the AFP bureaucracy. And, oh yeah, there's plenty of bureaucracy.

In the memo, Cline addresses concerns that he's a sexist and prejudiced against older people, which he denies, though he makes it clear that he believes recruitment of younger people is important to the cause.

Cline writes in response that he was not biased against elderly activists but rather sought out younger activists for AFP-Arkansas due to a dropoff in support among older tea party followers. He explains:

We have a declining tea party engagement and we need to engage new forms of activists. The comment [made by Cline to a fellow activist] was specifically, 'These old people are not gonna get it done. These kids are workers.' Not in the sense that they can't accomplish it, but that there are too few of them.

The problem of declining support from older tea partiers, Cline continues, is a national problem:

On my very first phone call with Jen Stefano as my new [AFP] regional director, I asked her if declining tea party engagement was just an Arkansas problem or if everyone was experiencing that. Her comment was that it's a problem everywhere.

At the time, Cline and Stefano were prominent figures within AFP. As the director of AFP-Arkansas, Cline led one of AFP's strongest chapters. Stefano is a national regional director for AFP and a fixture on Fox News and Fox Business News. If they believe tea party support is drying up, the problem is probably real. AFP spokesman Levi Russell declined to comment, and Stefano did not respond to a request for comment.

click to enlarge PHYLLIS BELL: Legislator's wife figures in AFP intrigue. - TWITTER
  • Twitter
  • PHYLLIS BELL: Legislator's wife figures in AFP intrigue.
Cameos of other figures include references to Phyllis Bell, wife of Rep. Nate Bell, the Tea Party-style Republican from Mena, who was not renewed as a contract worker for AFP (Cline said Phyllis Bell wanted to be deputy director of the Arkansas organization; he said that didn't fit with the direction he wanted to take the staff, plus her husband was a legislator), and Bobby Ballinger Jr., who sought but didn't get a job on the AFP payroll. Rep. Bob Ballinger is another Tea Party Republican legislator.

The article comes with Cline's full 19-page memo, with a few redactions. It includes screenshots of such things as messaging between Cline (in blue) and Oelke about Phyllis Bell's future at the organization.

click to enlarge twitter.png


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • UPDATE: Retired Arkansas Arts Center director Townsend Wolfe dies at 81

    Townsend Durant Wolfe, III, retired director and chief curator of the Arkansas Arts Center, has died at 81.
  • Subpoenas identify names of federal interest in kickback probe

    The Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District today provided me with the subpoena it received from federal investigators in a probe that led to former Republican Rep. Micah Neal's guilty plea to taking kickbacks from money he guided to a nonprofit agency and a private college in Springdale, apparently Ecclesia College.
  • Human Services says it's eliminated Medicaid application backlog

    The state Human Services Department has informed Gov. Asa Hutchinson that it has all but eliminated a backlog in applications for Medicaid coverage.
  • Praising Asa

    Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives.
  • Glass houses

    Having gotten a deep security briefing and probably a confidential glimpse of our own vast cyberspying operation, Donald Trump is no longer pretty sure that the Kremlin didn't hack Democratic computers or employ other tactics to help his election.

Visit Arkansas

Indian Rock House at Fairfield Bay

Indian Rock House at Fairfield Bay

Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation