Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tea Partiers Sue Rivals Over Movement Moniker


Tea Party turmoil continues in the Sunshine State...

A group of Florida Tea Partiers has filed suit against the team of conservative activists that registered the Tea Party of Florida (TPOF) as an official state party, alleging that their rivals "fully intend to 'hijack' the phrase 'Tea Party' for their political will and objectives."

In the lawsuit, filed moments ago in federal court in Florida, the Tea Partiers seek to push back against a bid by Orlando lawyer Fred O'Neal, and his close ally, GOP political consultant Doug Guetzloe, to claim rights to the Tea Party name.

In doing so, the Florida Tea Partiers become just the latest to sound the alarm about what they see as the increasing co-optation of a grassroots movement by political insiders. "We have a very successful movement, similar to the Civil Rights movement, or women's suffrage. And we have a political entity that's trying to take advantage of that," one of the plaintiffs, Everett Wilkinson, told TPMmuckraker in an interview. "They're trying to take that success and momentum and hijack it for their own political and/or personal needs."

In the lawsuit, according to a draft obtained by TPMmuckraker, the plaintiffs write that after O'Neal registered TPOF last summer with the Florida Division of Elections, he and Guetzloe "sent threatening letters" -- cited in the suit, and in some cases previously reported by TPMmuckraker -- and "engaged in a campaign to assert intellectual property rights over the phrase 'Tea Party.'"................................

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