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Eye On Boise

Minnick rejects Tea Party Express nod

Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick has decided to decline an endorsement from the Tea Party Express group - he was the only Democrat the national Tea Party group endorsed - in the wake of the group's spokesman posting a controversial blog about the NAACP that Minnick dubbed "reprehensible." You can read Minnick's letter to Tea Party Express here, which was first reported today on, and click below for a full report from AP reporter Jessie Bonner.

Minnick rejects Tea Party Express endorsement
By JESSIE L. BONNER, Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The lone Democrat to win favor with the Tea Party Express rejected the endorsement Monday, calling a group spokesman's controversial blog posting about the NAACP "reprehensible."

In a letter to Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer, U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick said he had no choice but to decline the endorsement after the group refused to publicly rebuke and oust spokesman Mark Williams.

The group "has apparently decided to stand by Mr. Williams and support him," said Minnick, a first-term Democrat who represents Idaho's 1st Congressional District. "I cannot agree with that course of action."

The National Tea Party Federation said Sunday the Tea Party Express had been expelled from its ranks for refusing to remove Williams.

The conservative talk radio host posted a blog satirizing the NAACP and referred to its president Benjamin Jealous as "Tom's nephew and NAACP head colored person."

In a blog posting Sunday, Williams said he was refusing media interviews because he did not want to further inflame the situation. He noted he had pulled his "inflammatory (and arguably over the top — just ask my wife) criticism of the NAACP."

The NAACP approved a resolution last week calling on tea party activists and others to "repudiate the racist element and activities" within the political movement.

Tea party organizers say racism does not have any place in their activities. Minnick, a fiscal conservative who voted against federal bailouts and called for a permanent ban on earmarks, landed on the Tea Party Express list of "Tea Party Heroes" in April.

During the Idaho primary to pick a Republican challenger, the state's biggest tea party organization endorsed state lawmaker Raul Labrador, who won the nomination.

In his letter, Minnick said his interactions with tea party activists in Idaho have been "very positive," and he has found members of the movement to be polite and sincere, with their passion focused on the issues.

"However, those who rise to or claim leadership in those movements have an obligation to lead with respect for the movement and its members, and thus be responsible with words and actions," Minnick said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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