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Political Notebook

Tea party groups aim to form PAC

February 6, 2010

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NASHVILLE - Organizers of the National Tea Party Convention said yesterday that participants would form a political action committee aimed at electing up to 20 candidates this fall who adhere to conservative principles embraced by the grass-roots movement.

The PAC, Ensuring Liberty Corp., will give money and resources to candidates who advocate fiscal responsibility, less government, lower taxes, states’ rights, and strong national security, convention spokesman Mark Skoda said.

Skoda, who heads the Memphis Tea Party, said he would serve on the board of the PAC, which will be organized as a nonprofit based in Memphis. He declined to identify other leaders of the committee.

“This is a way by which people who have worked so hard thus far in the rallies, whose voices have not been heard, will be able to participate with their talents and their treasures - and ultimately ensure that the people are elected,’’ Skoda said.

“We’re not attempting to co-opt’’ the Republican National Committee, he added.

The news of the PAC marks the first concrete national strategy from the tea party movement, which began last year in opposition to President Obama’s policies and is made up of hundreds of disparate groups and by design has no national leadership.

About 600 tea party leaders arrived Thursday in Nashville for their three-day convention.

Organizers were energized by signs that the political climate may be shifting in their favor and were eagerly awaiting the arrival of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who was expected to address the group tomorrow night.

-- Washington Post

Obama offers tribute to 7 CIA workers killed
WASHINGTON - President Obama paid somber tribute yesterday to the seven CIA employees killed in one of the worst attacks in the history of the intelligence agency, calling them patriots who “served in the shadows and took pride in it’’ before paying the highest cost for freedom.

The White House released a transcript of Obama’s remarks from a memorial service at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., which was closed to the news media.

About 1,000 agency workers attended, as did family members of the employees who were killed during the suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan on Dec. 30. Among the casualties was Harold Brown Jr., 37, who grew up in Bolton, Mass.

“To their colleagues and all who served with them - those here today, those still recovering, those watching around the world - I say: Let their sacrifice be a summons,’’ Obama said. “To carry on their work. To complete this mission. To win this war, and to keep our country safe.’’

Although the names of those killed have not been released, Brown’s family has acknowledged he was among the victims. He was married and the father of three children, ages 2 through 12. Obama offered words of comfort to the parents and spouses of those killed.

And to their children, he said: “I know that this must be so hard and confusing, but please always remember this. It wasn’t always easy for your mom or dad to leave home. But they went to another country to defend our country.’’

-- Associated Press

Alabama senator criticized for delaying appointments
WASHINGTON - The White House yesterday intensified its criticism of Republican senators blocking presidential appointments after the leader of the Senate complained that an Alabama member has placed a blanket hold on more than 70 administration nominees in order to secure funding for home-state projects.

“If that’s not the poster child for how this town needs to change the way it works, I fear there won’t be a greater example of silliness throughout the entire year of 2010,’’ White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

“It boggles the mind to hold up qualified nominees for positions that are needed to perform functions in a government because you didn’t get two earmarks.’’

Senator Richard Shelby’s office said his concerns are rooted in the future of the KC-135 Air Force tanker fleet, a project that could generate thousands of jobs in Alabama.

Shelby is also concerned with the administration’s proposed budget cuts for the FBI’s Terrorist Explosives Devices Analytical Center, which go against the wishes of FBI and military leadership, Graffeo said.

Shelby has placed holds on “several pending nominees,’’ Graffeo said, declining to specify the number. The senator has made the White House aware of his concerns “and is willing to discuss them at any time,’’ the spokesman added.

-- Washington Post