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Ouch: Tea Party rally cost taxpayers almost $14,000

By Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 10:54 EDT
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As Michele Bachmann riled a group of feisty Tea Partiers to rail against taxes and government spending, taxpayers were quietly forced to pick up a $13,600 tab for their festivities.

New expense reports from last November’s Tea Party gathering in Washington, D.C. reveal that the rally comprising thousands of protesters was funded by official congressional money, according to the the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

For the sound, staging and equipment, Bachmann (R-MN) was financially assisted by taxpayer-funded allowances from Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO), Tom Price (R-GA), and Steve King (R-IA).

But despite natural ire at the abuse of taxpayer funds, experts suggest that the lawmakers acted within congressional rules as long as the event was not campaign-related.

“Unless it’s billed as a campaign event, or campaign donations are solicited, or there’s a concerted program of endorsements for candidates based on party affiliation, I don’t think that they ran into any issues,” Stan Brand, former general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, told the Tribune.

While use of congressional funds for events is common among both parties, it might be considered unseemly for lawmakers and Americans to protest big government and runaway spending by spending thousands of taxpayer dollars.

The Tea Party has billed itself as an independent small-government movement but has largely behaved as an anti-Obama and anti-Democratic faction, aligning more and more closely with the GOP.

Bachmann, a highly controversial lawmaker nationally, is a prominent and lauded figure within the movement. She’s also known for parsing — if not inventing — facts.

This Sunday the congresswoman alleged on Fox News that President Obama has nationalized 51 percent of the private economy — a wild-charge with no factual basis.

 
 
 
 
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