The Athens, Georgia Tea Party Patriots announced that they will be holding a series of fund-raising events in order to pay the $65,000 that the group owes to speakers who appeared at its first ever Liberty Convention. According to the Athens Banner-Herald, convention planners expected more than 2,500 attendees for the Liberty Convention, which was held in June. Instead, a mere 92 people trickled through the doors, leaving the convention and its organizers disappointed and deep in debt.
At a “press conference” on Saturday, which the newspaper described as “actually a lengthy conversation with an Athens Banner-Herald reporter,” Athens-Clarke County Tea Party Patriots chairman Keyantwon Stephens was unable to say specifically what type of fund-raising activities the group might resort to in order to pay its debts. He touched on the idea of a “community carnival” in passing, but declined to elaborate.
He said that the group is currently working with “a political person” to help dig itself out of its current predicament, but did not name them. The convention’s sponsors, he said, are to blame for the group’s financial shortfalls. Stephens said the Athens Tea Party will be taking legal action against the businesses and political groups who promised to spend $500 each on banners to be hung at the event, but then backed out.
Currently, the group owes fees to speakers like journalist Ben Swann, a Sandy Hook “truther” who asserted that the government was manipulating the facts in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting; 2012 Libertarian candidate for president Gary Johnson; former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Martha Zoller and blogger Crystal Wright of ConservativeBlackChick.com.
Stephens said that management for Swann and Johnson told him that they are happy to wait until the group can make its payments. The Liberty Convention was originally slated to be held at Athens’ massive Classic Center complex, a grand hall for concerts and other events, with multiple adjoining conference areas. The day before the convention’s kickoff was scheduled, however, the event was moved to the much smaller Country Inn and Suites hotel due to a lack of sponsor funds and low ticket pre-sales.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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