Inaugural Tea Party Convention Not Without Controversy
Two-day event prior to debate will feature presidential candidates in intimate forums only open to tea party members.
MYRTLE BEACH — Think of the two-day event as a trade show for the tea party.
Running concurrent but not in opposition to the SCGOP Experience Weekend, the first-ever S.C. Tea Party Convention will host more than 35 guest speakers and focus on educating tea party members Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 at Springmaid Beach Resort.
The event is only open to tea party members, who must sign up ahead of time (Click here to send an email request). Members pay for $1 each day, but a donation of $5 per day is requested.
All of the GOP presidential candidates have been invited. So far, only Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Speaker Newt Gingrich have confirmed.
Other speakers include Congressman Tim Scott, Gov. Nikki Haley, SCGOP Chair Chad Connelly, Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis, and S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Designed to host 500 of the state's tea party members — who can then dessiminate the information to their local communities — the event was organized in less than two months and is the brainchild of Myrtle Beach Tea Party Chair Joe Dugan.
"This is not a political convention; this is an educational convention … This is going to be a blockbuster event by virtue of our speakers," Dugan said. "We're trying to set an example for the rest of the nation as to what tea party groups can do if they get together and have big ideas and work on something together."
Dugan said this is "phase two" of the tea party's reining in the national direction.
"The first phase was rallying together in Washington and in other cities and making a statement to the politicians and the people who run our government," Dugan said.
"The press has the perception that these people all went home and went to sleep … What happened is we went home and we started phase two. And phase two is building a substructure, doing the research, setting up networks and preparing to hold our legislators accountable whether that's while their in office or running for office."
The convention will offer 20 minutes to each candidate to make their case on why they deserve the support of tea party voters, he said.
"These candidates have to come and tell us why they deserve our vote," he said.
He said he modeled the format off of Sen. Jim DeMint's forums in 2011, except there will not be moderators and the candidates can do what they want for 20 minutes, whether that's answering questions, talking or both.
"I was very impressed with the format … where each of the candidates went up one at a time, and you just focused on one candidate at a time," Dugan said.
The impromptu event — which Dugan joked was harder to plan than a wedding — has not been without controversy.
Some media outlets reported the convention organizers requested audience members to bring weapons and act as their own security force. Dugan refuted the claim, which appears to based in a misunderstanding.
Dugan told Patch that two deputies from the Horry County Sheriff's Office have been hired to work security, but that when the security committee was forming, he wanted to have volunteers on it with their Conceal Weapons Permit since they had already passed an FBI background check.
"They're the cream of the crop because they have been thoroughly investigated," Dugan said. "I expect people with clearance from the FBI are sane and calm individuals … If there are disturbances that happen, I'm going to rely on the sheriffs department to handle it or to call in for citizens."
Full Convention Schedule
Sunday, Jan. 15
- 11 a.m. Welcome Brunch with Joe Dugan
- Noon Prayer Pledge
- 12:10 p.m. Convention opening with Sen. Jim DeMint
- 12:50 p.m. S.C. Congressional Delegation
- 1:50 p.m. Raging Elephants Apostle Claver
- 2:20 p.m. Strong America Now with Michael George
- 3:15 p.m. SC GOP Chairman Chad Connelly
- 3:25 p.m. Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce's Brad Dean
- 3:30 p.m. Reserved
- 3:35 p.m. Tea Party Patriots Founder Jenny Beth Martin
- 3:45 p.m. Sharia law with Ryan Mauro
- 4:15 p.m. Freedomworks Max Pappas
- 4:45 p.m. Closing remarks with Joe Dugan
- 7 p.m. Reserved
- 7:40 p.m. Freedomworks Dean Clancy
- 8:10 p.m. “Free Market Warrior” Loren Spivack
- 8:40 p.m. Constitutional Lawyer Larry Kobrovsky
- 8:45 p.m. ROAR Allen Olsen
- 8:50 p.m. Music
Monday, Jan. 16
- 9 a.m. Opening Remarks, Prayer
- 9:10 a.m. 2012 Governors Priorities with Gov. Nikki Haley
- 9:40am Author of Throw Them All Out Peter Schweizer
- 10:10 a.m. Freedomworks Matt Kibbe
- 10:30 a.m. Fair Tax John Steinberger
- 11 a.m. United States’ Military Role as a Global leader; Post-Obama Future Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston
- 11:30 a.m. Agenda 21 with Tom DeWeese
- Noon Lunch at Marlin’s Restaurant
- 12:50 p.m. Music
- 1 p.m. S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis
- 1:10 p.m. Returning from Afghanistan with Katherine Jenerette
- 1:15 p.m. S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson
- 1:25 p.m. Education Superintendent Mick Zais
- 1:35 p.m. Tea Party Patriots Founder Mark Meckler
- 2:05 p.m. Presidential Candidate
- 2:25 p.m. Presidential Candidate
- 2:45 p.m. Presidential Candidate
- 3:05 p.m. Michele Bachmann
- 3:45 p.m. Presidential Candidate
- 3:55 p.m. Presidential Candidate
- 4:14 p.m. Presidential Candidate
- 4:35 p.m. Presidential Candidate