Karin Hoffman, a Broward County tea party activist, conservative voice and leader of the DC Works for Us group, got her own political stimulus from President Obama’s failed stimulus package.
“I have been involved in campaigns for years,” she says on her LinkedIn page. “However, with the first stimulus package that was proposed, I became a constant communicator with my representative.”
From there came the “We Surround Them” meeting in March 2009, the gathering of tea party patriots in April 2009 and the formation of the DC Works for Us effort, “fighting harmful legislation and working to get conservatives elected.”
More than three years later, the conservative activist’s “political journey” continues as she plumbs the population in Florida and the nation in search of citizens sick of the status quo in Washington and willing to fight for something better.
“We found other leaders in the [tea party] movement and discovered the great strength we have when we work together as a coalition,” Hoffman told BizPac Review.
Committed to the cause, Hoffman bonded with the tea party faithful from the start.
She’s also influenced by her missionary parents and minister husband. She does volunteer work with a youth group at Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, where her husband, Greg, is the spiritual leader. She sees her participation there as “an investment in future generations,” not unlike her own political involvement.
“The tea party is not one organization or one leader. It’s a movement, a political entity,” she said, adding that it exists because of President Obama’s failed efforts to boost the economy and his reckless spending of taxpayer dollars. “He is responsible for galvanizing the tea party.”
Hoffman divides her time between tea party activities and leadership of DC Works for Us in Broward County, a tea party faction that educates citizens on the legislative process and the candidates they have come to support.
“We teach them to follow bills and stay in touch with their legislators,” Hoffman said.
It’s a job that takes her from Broward County through Palm Beach, Osceola and Pinellas counties, among others, seeking out people, potential leaders and citizens looking to ramp up their participation – and voice – in government.
Once leaders are identified, they are charged with gathering up interested followers to promote the tea party cause by interacting with members nationally.
With the 2012 presidential election on the horizon, tea partyers have put aside their protest signs to “work on campaigns,” Hoffman said – making calls, walking neighborhoods and attending meetings with groups like Freedom Works and the Kitchen Cabinet. They live by the credo, “Let’s not just talk, let’s do something,” Hoffman said.
She has been credited with pulling tea party folks together with Republican leaders to exchange ideas. And she’s raised a few eyebrows along the way.
Hoffman brought tea partyers together with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele for a 2010 meeting that drew national media attention. But she ruffled feathers by not allowing the media in.
Hoffman said she got a call from MSNBC newswoman Andrea Mitchell asking her for an in-studio interview before the session. The tea party leader said no because she felt those in attendance couldn’t speak freely with news media around.
“I didn’t stop anyone at the meeting from speaking to the media outside,” she noted.
A similar hurdle arose last month. Hoffman received a call from Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater asking her to coordinate a “listening session” on tea party concerns.
“Here, we had a cabinet member and past president of the state Senate,” Hoffman said. But she turned away CNN for the same reason. Media coverage, she said, “would have changed the whole tenor of the meeting.”
On the floor of that session, Atwater repeated his support for the “Five for Florida” program that reflects the tea party platform: Reform taxes and end corporate welfare; don’t make financial promises taxpayers can’t keep; be the steward to good, transparent government; empower kids with the best education and free entrepreneurs to pursue the American dream.
Hoffman attracted a crowd to a meeting in July 2011 with Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus and RNC Co-chair Sharon Day. And she spent three weeks planning a leadership summit in Orlando last March that drew 184 tea party leaders.
The tea party isn’t strictly for Republicans and against Democrats, Hoffman said. Support is based on candidates’ stands, not their political affiliation. Since they stand for less spending and trimmer government, Republicans do have an edge, she said.
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