Politicians may be known for stretching the truth, but Speaker John Boehner’s claim he’s attended “hundreds of Tea Party events” over the past four years apparently pulled it well past the point of breaking.
In reviewing press reports, Breitbart News was only able to identify three Tea Party events Boehner has attended, all of which occurred before he became speaker. Boehner’s spokesman now says the Ohio Republican has merely “talked with hundreds of Tea Party supporters.” Several top Ohio Tea Party activists, meanwhile, said they didn’t know of Boehner’s attending any Tea Party events in his home state.
Boehner made the claim at a Thursday luncheon event at the Middletown, Ohio, Rotary Club, specifying that by attending so many events he’s been able to identify patterns in who makes up the Tea Party.
“I’ve gone to hundreds of Tea Party events over the last four years. The makeup is pretty much the same. You’ve got some disaffected Republicans, disaffected Democrats. You always have a handful of anarchists. They are against everything. Eighty percent of the people at these events are the most ordinary Americans you’ve ever met – none of whom have ever been involved in politics. We in public service respect the fact that they brought energy to the political process,” Boehner said.
In 2009 and 2010, Boehner attended at least three Tea Party rallies.
The first was April 15, 2009 in Bakersfield, California, where he attended with House Republican Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The second was September 6, 2009, where he spoke against Obamacare, then under consideration in Congress, at a Cincinnati Tea Party Voices of America Freedom Rally. The third was April 13, 2010 at a Tea Party rally held in Orlando, Florida, organized by Tea Party activist Jason Hoyt and attended by an estimated 2,000 people.
Incidentally, all were more than four years ago, which was the length of time Boehner specified during which he had attended the events.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, told Breitbart News late Friday, “Rep. Boehner attended Tea Party rallies, including in Florida and California, from the very start of the movement, and he’s talked with hundreds of Tea Party supporters in recent years as he has traveled in Ohio and around the country.”
Boehner keeps an extremely busy schedule as he travels the country fundraising for Republican candidates, during the course of which he has undoubtedly met many people who self-identify as being of the Tea Party.
However, back home in Ohio, prominent local Tea Party activists say he has largely been missing in action.
“Speaker Boehner is my Representative,” Ann Becker, an Ohio Tea Party activist, said Friday. “He has been to only one Tea Party event. It was in September of 2009. His staff has been to a few more events. But hundreds is an extreme overstatement. He also has met with Tea Party leaders in the district a few times.”
“I’ve been in the Tea Party movement for five years, and I’ve never seen the man,” said Tom Zawistowski, executive director of the Portage County, Ohio, Tea Party.
“I am unaware of Boehner attending ‘hundreds of Tea Party events,'” Ralph King, co-coordinator of the Cleveland, Ohio, Tea Party Patriots, said. “I would say the closest Boehner would ever be to a Tea Party event is he would have been driving the British ship in the Boston Harbor!”
Marianne Gasiecki, founder of the Mansfield, Ohio, Tea Party told Breitbart News on Friday, “John Boehner has not been to any Tea Party rallies outside of his district that I know of.”
“If he does go to Tea Party rallies in his district,” Gasieki said, “it’s only during campaign season.”
Boehner was a notable no-show at the massive rally attended by more than 20,000 Tea Party activists on the west lawn of the Capitol on March 20, 2010 called to oppose Obamacare one day before the final vote. Numerous Tea Party-friendly members of Congress, including Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and Mike Pence (R-IN) spoke at the event.
Boehner also did not attend an August 27, 2013 Tea Party rally of 300 activists held in front of Speaker Boehner’s Troy, Ohio, offices. The purpose of the rally was to urge Boehner to defund Obamacare.
At the luncheon Thursday, Boehner went on to explain how he has a fairly positive view of the Tea Party movement but not the organizations that claim its mantle in urging Congress to be more conservative.
According to Boehner, “[t]here’s the Tea Party and then there are people who purport to represent the Tea Party.”
“I don’t have any issue with the Tea Party,” Boehner said. “I have issues with organizations in Washington who raise money purporting to represent the Tea Party, those organizations who are against a budget deal the president and I cut that will save $2.4 trillion over 10 years. They probably don’t know that total federal spending in each of the last two years has been reduced, the first time since 1950.”
According to Boehner, Tea Party activists “probably don’t realize that we protected 99 percent of the American people from an increase in their taxes. They were against that too, the same organizations. There are organizations in Washington that exist for the sheer purpose of raising money to line their own pockets.”
Boehner also mocked Republicans who opposed his efforts to pass immigration reform legislation.
“Here’s the attitude,” he told the audience. Then, in a high pitched, theatrical voice, Boehner screeched out, “Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard.”