Tampa Tea Partiers gather to denounce Florida Tea Party political party as unaffiliated in Tea Party movement

Around noon today outside of the Hillsborough County Center in downtown Tampa, a handful of Tampa Tea Party members gathered to denounce the Florida Tea Party political party as unaffiliated with the Tea Party movement.

According to a handout given by John Hendrix, a Tampa Tea Party founder, “the members of the Tea Party groups, 912 groups and other such groups consider the Florida Tea Party political party to be a sham because its very existence contradicts their selected strategy of avoiding third parties. The Florida Tea Party’s ability to split the right-of-center vote depends on maintaining the false impression that it is the political arm of the Tea Party movement.”

“We rejected the idea of a third party and that’s what they’ve done,” Hendrix said. “We believe this indicates that this is a dirty tricks operation,” he continued, referring to the accusation that the Florida Tea Party political party is affiliated with Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla).  According to Hendrix, the rally was not about trying to “change the media’s viewpoint,” but about making the distinction between two groups incorrectly associated.

“They’re running Marxist candidates. We’re trying to save our country from bankruptcy,” said Michael Capria, Chairmain of the Tampa 9-12 Political Action Research Committee.

Capria, wearing a red Tampa 9-12 T-shirt and carrying an American flag, expanded upon one of the nine principles that the group is based upon. When asked what is meant by principle number one, “America is good,” Capria said that “there is so much propaganda denigrating the U.S. [like] leftist speeches talking down on our country. We have [the U.S.] been a force for good.”

The controversy of Grayson’s supposed ties with the Florida Tea Party puts these Tampa Tea Party supporters on edge.

Christina Latchford, holding up Tampa Tea Party signs with her son, said that the Florida Tea party was made by “Democrats in fear that they’re losing their support.”

Many tea partiers strayed from the distinction between the sham group and the tea party movement and launched into a somewhat disjointed discussion about health care, immigration and religion.

Calling health care reform “government stupid,” Latchford said “the whole thing has government fingers all over it. Government is the last thing you want.”

Grayson has denied his affiliation with the Florida Tea Party.Watch this video for Grayson\'s comment.