The Tea Party Express took to the high seas this past summer, spending $103,000 to send six political action committee staffers on four back-to-back cruises over seven weeks. Of course, they were working the whole time—strategizing for Alaska’s upset-winner Joe Miller while at sea, and holding press conferences and rallies at Alaska ports-of-call. Even so, “it seems so outlandish,” says a former staffer, who notes that the lavish trip doesn’t really jive with the Tea Party’s focus on populism.
Other critics of the Tea Party agree, alleging that the PAC is just a front for consultants who want to make money and, well, go on cruises. But a former Tea Party Express political director insists the cruises were a less expensive way for Miller to campaign in Alaska, and that “our supporters were really excited that we were looking outside the box to find a more cost-effective way to run a campaign.” That cost-effective method included $5,000 for flights, more than $4,000 for hotels, and $1,000 at one tony restaurant, Politico reports.