Tea Party's Kibbe Rebuts 'Grifting' Characterization

Image: Tea Party's Kibbe Rebuts 'Grifting' Characterization President and CEO of FreedomWorks, Matt Kibbe. (Win McNamee/ Getty Images)

Wednesday, 06 Aug 2014 10:50 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Matt Kibbee, president of FreedomWorks for America, criticized former Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette for condemning the tea party in a Politico commentary as the "grifting" wing of the GOP.

"The column, which sets up a ridiculous distinction between the 'grifting' and 'governing' wings of the Republican Party, is a rhetorical rant packed with ad hominem attacks and Ronald Reagan name-drops, but lacking in any mention of the Constitution or a solid policy agenda," Kibbe wrote in a rebuttal, also published in Politico.

"Imagery without ideas. It’s an out-of-touch lobbyist charlatan’s idea of what a libertarian populist is supposed to sound like. And as a result, it reads about as authentic as Mitt Romney trying to sing 'Who Let the Dogs Out.'"

In a commentary published Sunday, LaTourette takes to task tea party leadership "grifters," comparing them to political snake-oil salesmen who are "fleecing" hardworking Americans out of their money.

"While the grifters hold a great deal of sway over the Republican Party for now, they are not the majority — not by a long shot," wrote LaTourette. "As with any good Ponzi scheme, there are relatively few grifters; the challenge is exposing their scam.

"Exposing the grifters is exactly what is happening in the Republican Party today. Groups like the organization that I head, groups like the [U.S.] Chamber of Commerce, business groups and traditional Republican organizations are working to run the political snake-oil salesman out of town — or at least out of our party."

He accused the tea party leadership  — not rank-and-file followers of the movement  — of lining their pockets "by promising that if you send them money, they will send men and women to Washington who can 'fix it.' Of course, in the ultimate con, the always extreme and often amateurish candidates these groups back either end up losing to Democrats or they come to Washington and actually make the process even more dysfunctional."

Kibbe responded that LaTourette’s congressional record shows his support for "big government policies, labor unions and the sort of cronyism that has earned Republicans such a bad name," and said that the top contributors to Defending Main Street, LaTourette’s PAC, are large unions.

Additionally, Kibbe wrote, LaTourette and his wife work for a lobbying firm that counts among its clients "Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, which urges Republicans to accept climate-change legislation, and Conservation Campaign, an environmentalist group seeking public funding."

"LaTourette claims that real governing sees beyond 'red' or 'blue,' but the real color that motivates his legislative advocacy is green — as in cash money," Kibbe wrote.

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