Tea Party Sets Up Headquarters in Fla. Senate

It's tea time in room 221. Buried deep in the senate office building, it's become the unofficial headquarters for the Florida Tea Party Coalition, a group led by Patricia Sullivan from Lake County.

"Any citizen of the state can contact their representative and senator and reserve a room, which is what we have done - we have reserved this room as our base of operations to kind of meet together and then go out and be citizen lobbyists, which is just good government," she said.

Their plan is to hold lawmakers accountable by just being here, but the man ultimately in charge of the real estate, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, appears to be indicating the Tea Partiers can't plant their flag in room 221.

"They're not going to have a full-time office in the Florida Senate."

Even if the Tea Party's entitled to use the room at least some of the time, they've become an easy target for progressive activist Damien Filer.

"I find it just terribly ironic that the anti-government Tea Party is making their headquarters in a government building!"

But it's a government that can make or break the Tea Party's agenda of cutting taxes, spending and regulation. And that is why they're here.

"It's my building," said party member Stan Willis. "I think it was built with tax dollars, and as a taxpayer I think I've got as much right to be in here as anybody. It's my house."

Two progressive organizations say if the Tea Party hangs around, they'll be asking for a meeting room, too. One has to wonder if lawmakers will have the space they need.

Under Senate rules, citizens and groups can request meeting space at the Capitol, but only on a week-to-week basis.

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