Tea Party and the Right  
comments_image Comments

Tea Party Think Tank Headed By Clarence Thomas' Wife Makes Common Cause With Militia Guru Larry Pratt

Listed among the friends of Virginia Thomas' new Tea Party think-tank is Gun Owners of America, headed by white-supremacist-friendly, militia guru Larry Pratt.

Editor's Note: Help AlterNet keep our reporters in the field, digging and keeping tabs. Field investigations cost money to travel and cover the maneuverings of the mobile and growing Tea Party movement. To make sure we can pay for our investigations, we immediately need $30,000 to pay the bills and keep our people on watch in the field. This project will operate at a high-intensity pitch through the fall election. Help us out, please.

Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has a new job, running a think-tank she founded to appeal to Tea Party supporters. Liberty Central, according to Kenneth P. Vogel, writing in Politico, "appears to be positioning itself as a hybrid think tank/advocacy group/campaign arm for the tea party movement."

Thomas herself explained it this way to Human Events magazine, Vogel reports:

“I’m getting to know the Tea Party groups and the new citizen activists,” Thomas told Human Events late last month. “What I think I can bring to the table is a connective (t)issue between the new people and the old people.”

On the Liberty Central Web site, visitors are urged to sign a " pledge to activism" that states the organization's commitment to small government, saying, in part:

In an effort to hold their government accountable to its constitutional limitations, many Americans have voiced their opposition to a “Big Government” agenda through protests and election upsets only to be blatantly ignored by many elected representatives,

Therefore, I pledge to be more informed and more active, and encourage others to do likewise, in order to maximize my impact and influence in preserving, protecting and promoting liberty, freedom, and limited Constitutional government in America.

Call it the Great Convergence, this coming together of old-guard groups and extremists under the Tea Party brand -- something perhaps that only someone close to a major power center in the U.S. government could pull off. Unlike grassroots Tea Party organizations that struggle for donations, Thomas got off to a quick start last year with two large donations, according to Politico -- one for $50,000 and another for $500,000 -- whose sources the group declines to disclose. (One imagines that for certain players on the legislative field -- especially those signing on to cases that might come before the high court -- saying "I gave at the office" to the spouse of a sitting justice might not come so easily.)

AlterNet took a spin through Thomas' Web site, to see if we could get a sense of who might be showing her some love. What we found was a cadre of groups listed as "friends" -- ranging from the typical Tea Party Inc. types, such as FreedomWorks, to the downright radical, like Gun Owners of America, led by executive director Larry Pratt.

In our ongoing chronicle of right-wing events, we last left Larry Pratt at the 2nd Amendment March on Washington, where he appeared to be calling for war against the U.S. government. The 2nd Amendment March wasn't really a march at all, but a rally on the grounds of the Washington monument of some 2,000 gun owners that took place April 19 -- the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing by self-styled militiaman Timothy McVeigh. (The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal office building took the lives of 168 innocents, including 19 children under the age of six.)

When Pratt took the stage on the grounds of the Washington monument about 15 years later, he could barely contain his ire for former President Bill Clinton, who was in office at the time of McVeigh's act of mass murder. On the day of the rally, Clinton published an op-ed that seemed to be aimed at the gun owners convening on the Mall in which he urged readers not to forget that McVeigh's act was born of the belief that government is the enemy. "[W]e must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged," he wrote.