Rhode Island Tea Party Breaks Up—New Group Forms
Friday, August 12, 2011
It’s unclear what the future of the older and original state Tea Party holds. One of the founders and president, Colleen Conley has been conspicuously absent from Tea Party events and activities over the past few months. Yesterday, Conley did not respond to a request for a comment.
For the past few months, the public face of the Tea Party has been Lisa Blais, one of three board members and a spokeswoman for the organization.
Blais is now one of the leaders of the new organization. Blais told GoLocalProv that all of the volunteers behind the Tea Party’s campaign at the Statehouse—including a successful defeat of binding arbitration legislation in the last session—have all left and formed the new group. In addition to herself, she said four out of six members of the Tea Party steering committee have made the departure.
Disagreement over direction of Tea Party
Blais said they left because the other two members of the board—Conley and Nan Hayden—decided to take the Tea Party in a “different direction.”
She added: “We were particularly pleased with having made GoLocalProv.com’s Who’s Hot list. We are that group and will continue that work. We look forward to collaboration with all good government groups, tea partiers and citizen activists in RI.”
She declined to elaborate on what differences of opinion there were over the future agenda of the Tea Party.
State Rep Doreen Costa, one of the original members of the Tea Party, confirmed there had been a split in the organization. She said she will serve as a legislative liaison for the new group. But she said she will also maintain ties to the Rhode Island Tea Party.
“I’m just going to support anybody I can who has the same values,” Costa said.
Focus on legislation, economic climate
“The Ocean State Tea Party in Action provides a laser-like focus on regulations, laws and pending legislation that undermine the voters’ and taxpayers’ desire to achieve prosperity for all Rhode Islanders in a flourishing economy,” said Deloris Issler, a lobbyist for the Rhode Island Tea Party who is now leaving to join the Ocean State Tea Party.
Already several other groups are lending their support to the new group, including RI Salons United—which opposed Governor Chafee’s sales tax expansion, and Patriots of South County and RI Friends, according to the news release.
“If we are to restore Rhode Island’s economy and move it from being the 50th worst state in which to do business to one of the top ten states in which to do business, we have no alternative but to restore a balance in the State House,” Blais said. “Jump on-board with the Ocean State Tea Party in Action, we’re on the move.”
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