FF Exclusive: Earlier this morning, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s office released a list of members of the newly-formed Tea Party Caucus. The list included congressmen who had supported the tea party for some time, like Reps. Joe Wilson, Mike Pence and Michele Bachmann.
One problem, however: at least two members had not yet agreed to join, and several of the offices were either unaware that their congressman had joined the Tea Party caucus or were not informed that Bachman was going to release their names.
Congressman John Mica’s (FL-7) office told FrumForum that their member had not joined the Tea Party caucus. When asked if their boss had joined the caucus, Rep. John Fleming’s (LA-4) office told FrumForum: “I don’t believe that’s the case.”
Rep. Gary Miller’s (CA-42) office told FrumForum: “We actually don’t know” if the member had joined the new caucus.
Other offices said that they were taken off guard by the announcement of the caucus membership list. “It’s news to me,” said Steve Taylor, press secretary to congressman Todd Akin (MO-2), when asked whether Rep. Akin had joined the Tea Party Caucus. He also seemed unaware that Bachmann’s office would release a list of members: “I, as press secretary, was not aware of this list. The press shop… was not consulted about this press release.”
“I’m not sure if anyone was told [that Rep. Bachmann would release a list],” said Dave Yonkman, Press Secretary to Rep. Hoekstra.
Adding to the confusion was the sudden removal of the list from Rep. Bachmann’s website. FrumForum has a screenshot of the original list below. Bachmann Press Secretary Sergio Gor told FrumForum that it was taken down because changes needed to be made to the list, but that an updated list would be available later today.
Today was the inaugural meeting of the Tea Party caucus. It’s unclear if Rep. Bachmann’s office assumed that attendance was tantamount to membership, but at this time there’s some confusion in the offices below as to whether their members have actually agreed to join the caucus.
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UPDATE (2:19 PM):
The new list of Tea Party caucus members is out. Five members from the original list were removed, and three were added. Rep Roscoe Bartlett (MD-6) was removed, then added back.
The following members were removed from the original list: Reps. Gary Miller (CA-42), Gus Bilirakis (FL-9), John Mica (FL-7), Michael Burgess (TX-26), and Joe Wilson (SC-2).
The following members were added: Reps. Adrian Smith (NE-3), Dan Burton (IN-5), and Tom Graves (GA-9).
Reached for comment, Rep. John Mica spokesperson Rusty Roberts explained why Mica was originally on the list: “Mr. Mica went to the meeting, and told her that he has policy of not joining caucuses… Someone must have seen him at the meeting and assumed he was a member.”
UPDATE #2 (3:10 PM):
Rep. Joe Wilson was removed from the list, but Rep. Joe Wilson spokesperson Pepper Pennington tells FrumForum that Wilson still considers himself a member of the caucus.