On September 16, the Tea Party Leadership Fund asked the Federal Election Commission to grant an exemption, so that the Fund would not need to disclose the names of people who contribute to the Fund. Here is the 13-page request from the Fund.
The letter says “The TEA Party is not a political party as defined by FECA because it does not nominate candidates to federal office.” It also says, “The TEA Party and its supporters are political outsiders untethered to – and often at odds with – both major political parties.” That sentence is likely to draw skepticism.
The request is based on the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that exempted the NAACP from disclosing its membership to certain southern state governments in the 1950′s, and the U.S. Supreme Court 1982 decision that exempted the Socialist Workers Party from disclosing its contributors and also its expenditures. Lower courts have granted similar exemptions to the Communist, Socialist Action, and Freedom Socialist Parties.
Page nine lists instances of government harassment of the TEA Party, and page ten describes examples of private harassment against the TEA Party. Page eleven then lists many instances when certain members of Congress made very hostile statements about the TEA Party. The request explains that the U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning the Socialist Workers Party said that groups making exemptions can use evidence that concerns similar groups, not just the group that is seeking the exemption.
The request does not present evidence that government agents infiltrated the Fund, or any other TEA Party. By contrast, the Socialist Workers Party and the Communist Party were able to prove that many government employees had infiltrated those parties, especially FBI agents.