Tea Party Patriots Backed by 3 Wealthy Billionaires
According to internal data acquired by The Intercept, Tea Party Patriots, a major conservative organization that portrays itself as one of the greatest grassroots groups on the right, was extensively funded by three ultra-wealthy people in recent years.
TPP was established in 2009, shortly after President Barack Obama's inauguration. The Intercept stated that the organization was motivated by CNBC editor Rick Santelli's on-air tirade in the early days of the financial crisis against an Obama government initiative to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
The group also planned the "March to Save America" protest that culminated in the violent January 6, 2021, storming of the US Capitol, aiming to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden's election win.
The Intercept found just 144,000 "active" members in the online data, despite boasts on the TPP website of a "network of 3 million activists," "more than 3 million supporters," and "more than 3 million patriots."
Members concentrate on fast-growing states like Colorado and throughout the Sun Belt, from California to Arizona, Texas, Georgia, and Florida, according to data from local chapters.
The Intercept uncovered papers that revealed the names of a few rich TPP donors, but the new information adds awareness to the group's financial backing.
The database contains names, phone numbers, home locations, and a comprehensive activity history for each user who is a member of the Tea Party Patriots local chapters that have signed petitions or have donated.
Billionaires who backed TPP
According to The Intercept, Christopher Goldsbury, a Texas millionaire who made his fortune selling Pace Foods to Campbell Soup in 1994, was the biggest donor.
Goldsbury contributed $1 million to the TPP Foundation through wire transfer on September 11, 2019. The TPP Foundation earned $1.2 million in revenue that year, according to tax documents. He had been a TPP member since 2014 and had previously donated $20,000 to TPP's three different organizations.
Sanford Diller, a now-deceased California real estate magnate, was another billionaire who contributed significantly to TPP. The TPP Foundation received $106,318 in income in 2015, according to Tax documents.
Earlier this year the Intercept reported on some of Diller’s foundation donations, and ABC News said last year that Justice Department documents implicated Diller in a secret lobbying scheme to trade political donations to entities associated with former President Donald Trump for a pardon.
David Gore, an Oregon libertarian whose family owns the Gore-Tex fabric firm, is another significant TPP donor. According to internal data acquired by The Intercept, he gave $50,000 to TPP Action, $275,000 to TPP's super PAC, and $124,000 to TPP Foundation between 2018 and January 2021.
TPP is composed of three separate organizations: TPP Foundation, a public charity; TPP Action, a social welfare organization that is allowed to engage in more extensive lobbying; and TPP Citizens Fund, a super political action committee that can spend unlimited amounts of dark money to support political candidates, as reported by The Intercept.
Petitions Signed by TPP Members
The database contains 148 petitions with dates ranging from 2014 to 2021, as well as information on everyone who signed a petition and whether or not they additionally wrote a message to Congress or contributed.
The Intercept revealed that during Trump's first impeachment investigation, almost 70,000 individuals signed the site's most popular petition, "Make Adam Schiff Resign."
In 2018, 16,000 people signed a petition to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Only two petitions have surpassed 8,000 signatures since then, both occuring during Trump's first impeachment investigation: the Schiff petition and another, sent to the Office of Congressional Ethics, requesting an ethics investigation against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Intercept is aware of the hacker's identity. They claimed to be members of Anonymous, a decentralized hacktivist organization. The cyber break-in is being investigated by Georgia law enforcement, and a detective from the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office contacted The Intercept on the matter.