Mark Williams, spokesperson for the Tea Party Express and author of last week’s racial attack on the NAACP, is threatening to cause a civil war in the tea party movement. Over the weekend, the Tea Party Federation — a group of grassroots tea party groups from across the country that hopes to create a unified voice for the movement — voted unanimously to kick out the Tea Party Express unless it removes Williams from its leadership and takes steps to “publicly rebuke” him.
The move suggests at least some tea partiers are growing uncomfortable with Williams, whose racist-sounding screed aimed at the NAACP last week led to days of coverage on cable news. The screed, not the first time Williams has found himself in hot water over racially-tinged comments, was posted to Williams’ personal blog, but has led to questions directed at the Tea Party Express about the NAACP resolution as well.
The Tea Party Federation called on the Tea Party Express to do three things if it wanted to remain part of the group (from the group’s press release Saturday):
1. Mark Williams must be officially removed from the ranks of the Tea Party Express.
2. Notice of Mark Williams’ removal must be placed prominently on the official Tea Party Express website.
3. Tea Party Express must issue a press release articulating points 1 and 2 above.
On CBS’ Face The Nation Tea Party Federation leader David Webb explained that Williams’ letter was “clearly offensive” and needed to be answered for.
“That is what we do,” Webb said. “Self-policing is the right and the responsibility of any movement or organization.”
A Tea Party Federation spokesperson says that the group “communicated our decision directly to a member of the leadership team of Tea Party Express.” The “response was clear,” the TPF said. “They have no intention of taking the action we required for their group to continue as a member of the National Tea Party Federation.”
For his part, Williams says he wants to put the matter behind him. On his website, Williams posted a long response to the Tea Party Federation’s move, but also wrote “I am refusing all media requests on this.”
Williams “canceled a scheduled interview on CNN to discuss the controversy Sunday evening, citing a last-minute change in travel plans,” the network reports.