Memo from Jenny Beth Martin Addressing Tea Party Patriots’ Involvement Fighting Amnesty
In light of a recent article that appeared on Breitbart News entitled “Tea Party Patriots Co-Founder Encourages Conservatives to Give Rubio Chance to Implement Immigration Agenda,” it is necessary to correct the record about our organization’s deep commitment over the past few years to preventing amnesty and defending the rule of law.
The background story behind that Breitbart piece is that I wrote a short op-ed for USA Today in which I defended politicians who change their minds. USA Today requested the article and specifically asked for a defense of the concept of “flip-flopping” by politicians. The paper asked me to reflect on both Governor Scott Walker and Senator Marco Rubio, who have each appeared to have “flipped” in their stances Walker on Common Core, and Rubio on amnesty.
My goal for that op-ed was to illustrate that Sen. Rubio has embraced our talking points on immigration. At one point he was part of the Senate “Gang of 8” pushing a massive amnesty bill, but now he is talking a different game. I assure you there was no manipulation at play. We appreciate it when elected officials change their minds to do what we ask of them. It’s okay to give them a pat on the back when they say or do the right thing – even as you remain skeptical. It’s possible that they will continue to change in response to positive feedback. You can read the further explanation for this in the Breitbart column I wrote.
As for trusting Senator Rubio or any other elected official, I assure you that we hold to the philosophy of trust but verify … and re-verify, and then verify another time. We are very hard on elected officials when they do not live up to their promises, and we work very hard to hold them accountable. Please read more about why we believe the carrot and stick approach is appropriate in the article below my signature.
When it comes to securing the border and preventing amnesty for the millions of illegal immigrants already in the country, Tea Party Patriots and I take the issue very seriously. We have hosted many rallies, written toolkits, paid the travel expenses for people affected by illegal immigration to speak at press conferences and testify before Congress, melted the phone lines multiple times in efforts to stop bad legislation, and created a documentary about the border crisis, Border States of America, which we made available for free to educate more Americans on the situation. Personally, I traveled over 700 miles along the border last July interviewing people who live and work there so that I might have a better understanding of what is happening. I then went back in August because I felt there was so much more that I needed to learn and witness.
On a very personal note, last December I had major back surgery. My doctors told me to plan on being out of work recovering for a minimum of three weeks. But that was just as the lame duck Congress was considering a big spending bill – a spending bill that might have included funding for President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty. So instead of recovering fully, I was back at work less than four days after my surgery to make sure Tea Party Patriots had the necessary information flowing from Capitol Hill to our supporters, and doing everything we could to prevent President Obama’s executive amnesty from being funded. The attack article on me stung because it misquoted and maligned me on an issue that I care about very deeply.
More than hurting me personally, the piece undercuts what Tea Party Patriots has done on this issue (included below are links to various Toolkits, Calls to Action, and blog posts created by Tea Party Patriots on this issue). Also, it is now taking days of our Support Team’s time away from other time sensitive issues at hand – such as the Iran Nuclear Deal or removing Speaker Boehner from his speakership – because we are replying to each complaint personally and individually. As a grassroots organization, we think that is important to do.
At Tea Party Patriots we give a very high priority to the grassroots, and make sure that the grassroots have a very real voice in our organization’s decision making. Our local coordinators approve every issue that we take on across the country. We have a local coordinator webinar each week, and they set the direction of Tea Party Patriots.
We exist as a service organization. We take our lead from our grassroots, and we do what we can to ensure they have the tools they need to implement the action items necessary to defend and promote liberty, no matter what the particular issue might be. On amnesty, we will fight to the end. It’s the right thing to do.
-Jenny Beth Martin
Examples of Action Items, Toolkits, and Talking Points created by TPP to Oppose & Block Amnesty
JENNY BETH MARTIN: IN DEFENSE OF A ‘CHANGED MIND’
Breitbart.com, August 11, 2015
As a long-time reader of (and frequent contributor to) Breitbart.com, it pains me to say I found the piece to be dishonest reporting, bordering on a personal attack. But because I believe the author and I share a determination to prevent an amnesty of millions of illegal immigrants from taking place, I will attempt in the following passages merely to point out where I think my piece was misunderstood.
In my very short USA Today op-ed – which was originally accepted for publication months ago – I made the point that politicians often change their minds, and I argued that there is nothing inherently wrong with changing one’s mind or policy positions if they are changing to the right position and if the change is sincere. As the leader of a grassroots organization that aims to build a broad coalition and which recognizes that the growth and success of any political movement necessitates a welcoming attitude toward those who once held views in opposition, but who now have adjusted those views, I stand by those statements.
The Breitbart News piece focuses on just one example from my op-ed, in which I mentioned that Senator Marco Rubio appears to have changed his mind on immigration. It is a fact that Sen. Rubio in 2013 was one of the authors of the notorious Senate “Gang of 8” amnesty bill, which was a broad amnesty bill that lacked even the most basic border security measures. It is also a fact that Sen. Rubio today says he shares our concerns about granting amnesty to millions of people without first addressing border security. These two facts indicate a “flip-flop,” and recognition on his part that the bill he originally championed was severely flawed.
What Breitbart News fails to mention is that after I used this example of a flip-flop, I made it very clear that we were still skeptical of Sen. Rubio’s position.
Did Scott Walker and Rubio “flip-flop”? Or did their thinking on these issues merely change, as they spent more time learning about the issues in question, and had more conversations with thoughtful advisers and — dare we say it — regular American citizens?
We honestly don’t know. We do know we’ll be watching them closely, as we’ll watch the other candidates seeking to earn our support.
After all, President Reagan had a philosophy of “trust but verify,” and our position with Sen. Rubio on amnesty is exactly that.
Tea Party Patriots was one of the most visible and vocal opponents of Rubio’s 2013 amnesty bill. During the summer of 2013, we created activist toolkits, organized rallies across the country, and orchestrated a massive effort on Capitol Hill to draw attention to the many weaknesses of Sen. Rubio’s “Gang of 8” bill. We are proud of that work, and even prouder of the fact that Rubio today appears to have changed his mind on a key aspect of this issue, and appears to be using some of our talking points on border security. That’s progress, plain and simple.
At Tea Party Patriots, we have a philosophy that guides our grassroots activities: “When politicians do the right thing, we stand by them. And when they fail to do the right thing, we hold them accountable.” The Marco Rubio incident is illustrative of that guiding principle. In 2013 we held him accountable with grassroots pressure – letters to the editor about him, calls into his office, and rallies. And in 2015, as he signals an embrace of our messaging, we welcome it. Why wouldn’t we?
That doesn’t mean he has gained a pass or that we are encouraging conservatives to give Rubio a chance to implement his immigration agenda, as was falsely suggested in the Breitbart News headline.
Marco Rubio’s flip-flop will give many voters cause for concern, as it should, and GOP primary voters will certainly want to examine Rubio’s remarks in light of his previous actions on immigration.
As the 2016 presidential election heats up, we can expect a lot of flip-flopping from every candidate. When the candidates flip their views to align with ours, we will celebrate those victories and welcome them, to the extent we are satisfied they are sincerely-held changes of opinion.
Breitbart News’ view on this issue seems to be that candidates can never do a course correction or change their positions. That is wrong, of course, and Tea Party Patriots has an impressive track record proving just how often politicians can be persuaded to do the right thing.
I love you, Breitbart News, but this was a cheap shot.