Most of the people I know who are involved with the TEA Party got involved because of its original purpose which was to limit taxation and control the deficit.
It was in the name Taxed Enough Already.
But like any group that claims they have no leaders and everyone is united by a common concern where no leaders are needed, they left themselves open for someone to fill that vacuum.
Someone has to become the face of the movement, the go-to guy in a world of 24 hour news channels that want to interview someone, so the loudest and most 18th Century dressed person could either step in or get approached as a good visual.
There was a certain degree of self promotion
There was a certain degree of naivete' in the movement too, and people did, indeed, step in to promote their own agendas.
There was a certain degree of co-opting.
Now a new study by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health has found that groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers actually had been planning the formation of the Tea Party movement more than ten years before it actually “began”.
An objective was chosen; what was needed was a way to recruit a large group of people who might object to the object, but could be convinced, somehow, that their own interests were being addressed.
As far as ties to tobacco, the study found that people within the industry, an industry that had pretty much been left alone since the days of Jamestown, who objected to the poor reputation tobacco was getting, taxes that were being added on, and negative health studies are currently using their tobacco-inspired playbook to dodge accountability for the fossil fuel industry's role in driving climate disruption.
The study traces the roots of the Tea Party's anti-tax movement back to the early 1980's when tobacco companies stood to lose a lot of money if people were convinced to avoid tobacco, and they needed to invest in third party groups to fight excise taxes on cigarettes, as well as the health studies linking cancer and secondhand cigarette smoke.
They needed to act in the shadows to avoid having their aim revealed as self-serving.
The study entitled “To Quarterback Behind the Scene, Third Party Efforts: The Tobacco Industry and the Tea Party” claims
"Nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party have longstanding ties to tobacco companies, and continue to advocate on behalf of the tobacco industry's anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda."
Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks now support the political agendas of tobacco companies by mobilizing local Tea Party opposition to tobacco taxes and smoke-free laws.
Originally these two organizations were just the Citizens for a Sound Economy that was founded in 1984 by Charles and David Koch, and at its founding received over $5.3 million from tobacco companies, mainly Philip Morris, between 1991 and 2004.
Tim Hyde, RJR Tobacco's head of national field operations, explained why this group was important to fight government regulations back in 1990:
"... coalition building should proceed along two tracks: a) a grassroots organizational and largely local track,; b) and a national, intellectual track within the DC-New York corridor. Ultimately, we are talking about a "movement," a national effort to change the way people think about government's (and big business) role in our lives. Any such effort requires an intellectual foundation - a set of theoretical and ideological arguments on its behalf."
This was 9 years before what most people think was the beginning of the grassroots Tea Party movement.
In 2002 the CSE, with tobacco industry money, and the Koch brothers designed and began the website www.usteaparty.com, which goes so far as to rewrite history by misrepresenting the actual motivation for the Boston Tea Party.
In September 2002 the site said,
"In 2002, our U.S. Tea Party is a national event, hosted continuously online, and open to all Americans who feel our taxes are too high and the tax code is too complicated."
The original site was taken down in 2011, and is now registered to FreedomWorks.
Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity agendas include other policies seen as threatening to the free market principles such as health care reform and regulations on global warming pollution.
Many members of the Tea Party are totally unaware of the origins of the organization they are dedicated to, and have no idea that their grassroots movement is actually being used to fight, not for what is best for the common man, but what benefits large corporations.