A Tea Party-affiliated political action committee that caused a stir in the US Senate race last week is now planning a weekend telethon to benefit Republican candidate Michael J. Sullivan — live from Reno, Nev.
“The telethon will broadcast LIVE from Harrah’s Reno hotel, but we are NEVER, EVER to mention that we will be doing the telethon from Reno,” said an organizer’s e-mail, obtained by the Globe. “We want viewers to assume the broadcast will be taking place from Massachusetts.”
A Facebook page for the event puts its location in Boston.
The e-mail was circulated by Joseph Wierzbicki, a Tea Party leader and executive director of the Conservative Campaign Committee, which has been trying to rally conservatives across the nation to raise money for Sullivan.
Sullivan faces two other Republicans — Cohasset businessman Gabriel E. Gomez and state Representative Daniel B. Winslow — in the April 30 primary for the US Senate special election.
“This is all TOP SECRET for now,” Wierzbicki wrote in the e-mail. “Do not say anything to anyone as we will be careful in how we announce the details of this effort and at each step we will tell you what you can and cannot say.”
The telethon will be co-hosted by fellow Tea Partier and PAC leader Lloyd Marcus, who inveighs against homosexuality on his blog. His involvement in fund-raising for Sullivan led Gomez to hammer the Sullivan campaign for the past week demanding that he disavow the group. Sullivan condemned the anti-gay rhetoric on Tuesday.
Ryan Gill, a spokesman for the Conservative Campaign Committee, confirmed the telethon, which aims to raise money for an aggressive ad push on Sullivan’s behalf. The eight-hour telethon is scheduled to be streamed live online on Sunday beginning at 4 p.m.
“We’re raising money to run ads in Massachusetts,” Gill said. “Where we are is irrelevant. We’re on the Internet.”
Sullivan campaign manager Paul Moore said he was unaware of the telethon and doesn’t like the idea of competing for “precious donor support” with a third-party group. However, Moore added: “Obviously we can’t control what other groups do. If and when there's a message that’s false that another group or candidate puts up, Mike will be the first to demand that it be taken down.”
Unlike the Democratic Senate candidates, who made a pact to discourage independent groups from supporting their campaigns with TV ads, the Republicans left the field open to third-party group involvement.
The Conservative Campaign Committee, previously known as the Committee to Defeat Barack Obama, was spun off from the Tea Party Express political action committee, Our Country Deserves Better, Gill explained.
The group hopes to raise $50,000 this weekend and plans to air radio ads in Boston next week, he said.
The telethon will feature footage shot in Boston last week, when organizers were interviewing Sullivan supporters for their ads, Gill said. Boston would have been a more expensive location to convene, produce and broadcast the event, he said.
Asked about the location of the telethon, Moore said, “We definitely prefer the help of people based in Massachusetts ... If they’re doing it live from Reno, they ought to be trying to affect politics in Nevada.”