The Mystery of the Tea Party’s Karl Rove-as-Nazi Photo

Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin joins other members of the Tea Party outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the third day of oral arguements over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act March 28, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The drama is over now, but it started like this. On Tuesday afternoon, Tea Party Patriots—one of the first serious movement organizations, now in its fourth year—sent a fundraising pitch to conservative email lists. I’ll excerpt a small portion of it.

Make a generous online donation today and help us reach our 4 Year 4 Liberty $1 milllion money bomb goal by February 27th!

Over just that last few weeks “Republicans” like Rove have called Tea Party members “racists”,”bigots,” “paranoid” and even political “underbrush.”

And that’s just the “Republicans!” What the Obama liberals think is even worse!

That’s why we launched this historic fundraising campaign.

We need to show the entire political establishment of both parties that the American people are angry, organized and that we will stand up to their corruption.

Please make the most generous contribution you can today.

We’ve posted a special graphic on our website so that the politicians, the bureaucrats, the media and even Karl Rove can watch in real time as the American people take a stand for liberty and support our movement.

And so on. The problem: The original version of this email was illustrated by Karl Rove wearing Nazi garb, looking for all the world like a Hogan’s Heroes guest star. Media questions started to come in, and shortly after 3:30, Tea Party Patriots pushed out a statement credited to Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and president:

In an email sent under the banner of Tea Party Patriots, a manufactured image of Karl Rove was added to the email which Tea Party Patriots did not know about or approve. The image, which was added by an outside vendor, Active Engagement, was inappropriate, wrong and we have ordered them to immediately cease further use of the image. We apologize to Mr. Rove.

It was just added? By who? What happened? Martin was actually traveling on Tuesday, and the email text was approved by another member of the group, Kevin Mooneyhan. The vendor, which did work for Herman Cain in 2011, took full credit for screwing up the mailing; the apology was circulated by Shirley & Banister, an Alexandria, Va., consulting/PR firm. Thus goes the grassroots Tea Party group.