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Some leading tea party activists are concerned that their efforts to reshape American politics, starting with the 2010 elections, are being undermined by a shortage of cash that’s partly the result of a deep ambivalence within the movement’s grassroots over the very idea of fundraising, and partly attributable to an inability to win over the wealthy donors who fund the conservative establishment.
Many tea party organizations have shied away from the heavy-handed solicitations that flood the email boxes of political activists. And the handful of tea party groups that have raised substantial amounts, either by embracing aggressive fundraising or through pre-existing connections to wealthy donors, are viewed suspiciously within the movement.
Local groups have been left to literally pass hats seeking donations at their meetings or rely on their organizers’ bank accounts, while ssome national groups have failed to live up to their bold fundraising predictions.
“I don’t blame them, since most of these people are so new to the process and they don’t know anything beyond the protests, but, at the end of the day, the energy and the passion will only take you so far,” said Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, a non-profit group that teaches grassroots conservative activists how to influence the political process. “Without money, nothing quite works like it could.”