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Updated: 13 SC Tea Party Leaders Blast Bachmann Tactics

Thirteen leaders of the state's tea party movement tell the Minnesota congresswoman to stop questioning their integrity.

Nearly a month after a by bringing them on as staffers, more than a dozen of the movement's leaders are fighting back.

In a strongly worded letter issued Friday afternoon, 13 leaders of the SC Tea Party movement accused her of "attacking the tea party movement by accusing tea party supporters of Newt Gingrich of being bought off" and by discussing it with John King on CNN Wednesday night.

"Now that Michele Bachmann herself has decided to throw fuel on the fire, and this issue has become national news, we as leaders within the South Carolina tea party movement feel we must speak out to defend our integrity," reads the letter, which was circulated on Twitter and on at least one Tea Party website.

They accuse Bachmann of trying to divide the Tea Party movement, and defended Gingrich, who has said time and again that the only real opponent is President Barack Obama.

"When the Presidential campaigns leave our state on January 22, we will continue to work together to make South Carolina the freest state in the nation. There is support for many presidential campaigns among our organizations, but contrary to the inaccuracies being spread by the Bachmann campaign, there is no Bachmann/Gingrich war amongst our members," the letter says.

Bachmann's SC spokesman, Wes Donehue, sent an email response shortly after 9 p.m. Friday night, suggesting that the group is just trying to hold Gingrich accountable.

"Last time we checked," the email reads. "this is what the Tea Party does. We hold candidates accountable for their record. This is exactly what Michele Bachmann and her Tea Party supporters in South Carolina have been doing and will continue to do. ... If supporters claim to be Tea Party and endorse establishment candidates, we will question their commitment to principle and philosophy."

Three of the state Tea Party leaders have joined Gingrich as campaign staffers, but the majority of them are unpaid staffers, according to the letter.

The letter, signed by the leaders of the Bachmann SC Tea Party Coalition,  notes that the criticism can't come from the entire Tea Party movement, because 56 other Tea Party leaders have backed Bachmann.

"The letter from SC Tea Party activists blasts the Bachmann campaign for pointing out these facts and is signed by two paid Gingrich staffers," the response from Donehue reads. "The fact that one third (1/3) of Gingrich supporters who signed the letter, are paid staff, would seem to indicate that Gingrich is getting exactly what he is paying for."

Both candidates have campaigned as the best alternative to former Gov. Mitt Romney, . Both and have announced Tea Party coalitions who support their causes.

Here are the 13 members who signed the letter:

Brit Adams
President, Concerned Citizens of the Upstate
Rick Santorum Supporter

Dianne Belsom
President, Laurens County Tea Party
Unpaid County Chair for Newt 2012

Jeffrey Betsch
Fairfield County Tea Party/Vice Chair Fairfield County GOP
Rick Santorum Supporter

Talbert Black Jr.
SC Campaign For Liberty
Not voting for Gingrich

Joe Dugan
Chairman, Myrtle Beach Tea Party
South Carolina Patriots. State Coordinator
Gingrich-not paid a penny

Charlotte Hendrix
President, Florence Tea Party
Unpaid Gingrich Supporter

Chris Horne
Board Member, Charleston Tea Party
Gingrich Staff

Harry Kibler
Founder, RINO Hunt
Leaning Santorum

Karen Martin
Organizer, Spartanburg Tea Party
Unaffiliated

Gerri McDaniel
Treasurer and Board Member, Myrtle Beach Tea Party
Gingrich Staff

Allen Olson
Former Chairman, Columbia Tea Party
Unpaid Gingrich Supporter

Shery Smith
Chairman, Sumter Tea Party
Unpaid Gingrich Supporter

Linda Weeks
Coordinator, 912 Greenville
Undecided

DonnaAnn Ward December 17, 2011 at 05:20 AM
Et tu, Tea Party?
Bob Uda December 17, 2011 at 06:17 PM
You are all a bunch of losers! I used to support the Tea Partiers 100%-- but not anymore. You people have forgotten that the Tea Parties were a political movement, not a political party. You should stick to principles, not being a bunch of political hacks. Instead, you should follow the lead of your SC Governor Nikki Haley and support Romney. But no, you religiously bigoted idiots play your silly politics instead of remembering the primary goal is to get Emperor Obama out of the White House. You bunch of 13 blithering idiots! You are no better than the Super Committee of 12 Idiots!
grasspress December 18, 2011 at 05:40 AM
i think if bachmann wants to improve her 'image' she should show a little cleavage. she doesn't seem to have anything between the ears so maybe she can show what she has between the shoulders. that might get her some better attention from the national news. it might be more positive than the coverage she's getting now. what she's got between the ears doesn't seem to be doing her much good.
Erica Blair December 19, 2011 at 08:25 PM
grasspress, I don't think it is going to do her any good.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gU81IKbDtgk

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