Miller campaign confident Tea Party Express isn't racist

July 19, 2010 

JUNEAU -- A Tea Party Express coordinator said today the group's expulsion from a national coalition over a member's blog posting about the NAACP was "arrogant and preposterous."

Tea Party Express was expelled from the National Tea Party Federation for refusing to publicly rebuke and oust spokesman Mark Williams.

Williams had posted a blog that satirized the NAACP and referred to its president, Benjamin Jealous, as "Tom's nephew and NAACP head colored person."

The NAACP approved a resolution last week that calls on activists and others to "repudiate the racist element and activities" within the tea party movement.

Tea Party Express coordinator Joe Wierzbicki claimed the federation had "enabled and empowered the NAACP's racist attacks on the tea party movement, and they should be ashamed of themselves."

"Circular firing squads of groups within the tea party movement attacking one another accomplish nothing, and on this issue the Tea Party Federation is wrong," he said in a statement.

Wierzbicki and other Tea Party Express representatives were in Anchorage today to discuss plans for helping Joe Miller in his bid to replace U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in next month's GOP primary.

The group, through its political action committee, has promised to focus attention and resources possibly approaching $1 million to help Miller.

Miller campaign manager Paul Bauer Jr. said he didn't consider Tea Party Express to be a distraction.

"We're not getting involved in what they're doing," he said.

Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said Sunday that Williams' blog post didn't appear on "anything directly linked with the Tea Party Express."

DeSoto said the Miller campaign trusts the Tea Party Express "in no way shares those views." If it was learned that it did, he said, "we would have some problems."

The Tea Party Express has claimed about 375,000 members nationwide, with about 1,000 of those in Alaska.

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