ORLANDO, Fla. - Tea party activists from Central Florida and beyond stood with Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Oviedo) Monday as she decried a mailer that claimed her opponent, 10-term Congressman John Mica, was endorsed by the tea party.
In fact, they said, Mica (R-Winter Park) was endorsed by a "fake" tea party working with a political consultant who has done jail time for sending illegal political mailers.
After first denying consultant Doug Guetzloe played any role in the Tea Party of Florida, the party chairman later admitted Guetzloe was behind the mailers.
The Tea Party of Florida has fewer than 15 members in the district where the two Republicans face off Tuesday, a matchup of two incumbents forced by redistricting.
The party chairman, John Long, at first told Local 6 Monday the party did not pay for or authorize the mailer and had nothing to do with Guetzloe.
But, after speaking with Guetzloe, Long retracted that claim, saying he was reminded he did give Guetzloe permission to send out the mailer -- though Long said he had not seen it and the party did not pay for it.
He said Guetzloe would donate the mailing to the party as an "in-kind contribution." Long said he did not know the date or amount of the contribution, and did not know how many Republicans may have received it.
Guetzloe refused comment, including on whether anyone paid him or one of his companies to send the mailer.
Regardless of who paid for it, it is an endorsement no one wants.
Mica's campaign said it did not seek, accept or promote Guetzloe's endorsement and did not pay him for the mailer.
Adams, one of 87 Republicans swept into office in 2010 on a wave of tea party support, decried "distortions and misrepresentations" it contained.
Surrounded by more supporters than there are Tea Party of Florida members in her district, Adams was introduced by a Tea Party Express chairman Amy Kremer, who vowed, "We're not going to let these kind of shenanigans go on. This is trickery. … This is a fake political party that sent this mailer."
"Congressman John Mica doesn't even come close to being tea party. Sandy Adams is a true tea party conservative in this race," Kremer said.
Fellow tea party freshman Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Florida) also roundly endorsed Adams, saying, "We're all in for Sandy Adams."
Guetzloe served a 60-days jail sentence last year for sending illegal mailers in a 2006 election.
In May, we was also sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for failing to file tax returns.
Once he is assigned a prison, he has 15 days to report there. So far, apparently, he has not been assigned a prison by the federal Bureau of Prisons.
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