News Story

A Lawyer Offering Few Details is Face of Mysterious ‘The Tea Party’

A rare official spokesperson for the mysterious 'The Tea Party' political party made a public appearance Monday at the State Board of Canvassers meeting in Lansing.

It was the party's lawyer, Michael Hodge.

Mark Steffek, the man who formed The Tea Party and was described by the Detroit Free Press as a former union steward, was not present. However, dozens of grassroots tea party activists did show up, and appeared to be unanimously opposed to Steffek's creation.

On a vote of 2-2, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers failed to approve The Tea Party political party formation petitions. Hodge said before the vote that he expected to take it to the state Court of Appeals perhaps as early as Wednesday.

After testifying before the board, Hodge spoke with the media, but had difficulty remembering details about the organization of his client's new political party.

He couldn't remember when The Tea Party state convention was, even though he said he attended it at a Saginaw hotel. Another reporter had to tell him the date (July 24).

He also couldn't recall the name of the hotel.

Hodge said Steffek was his client and was the one paying his legal bills.

"I don't know if I've gotten paid yet," said Hodge.

Hodge couldn't answer questions about how people could join The Tea Party, saying he didn't think they had a website. And he said the party officials would have to call for a meeting, but didn't know when that might be.

Hodge said the The Tea Party officials, of whom there are just three, would have to determine what basis for membership would be, such as membership fees. He said he didn't think they had time to "figure that out."

Hodge said he worked one time for the Democrat Party in 35 years. According to, Hodge did give $250 to David Nacht, a Democrat, when he ran for Congress in 2008.

And Hodge said he had never heard of Jason Bauer until he became the controversial notary who notarized several candidate statements for The Tea Party.

Jason Gillman, a grassroots tea party activist from Traverse City, discovered that Bauer had notarized many of The Tea Party candidates' affidavits and that he was also the political director of the Oakland County Democratic Party.

One reporter asked Hodge why the 100 or so grassroots tea party members who were at Monday's hearing didn't support The Tea Party political party.

"I don't know who they are," Hodge said. "Who says they are the tea party?"

He alleged the tea party members in the audience were members of the Republican Party.

Sharon Lollio of Plymouth broke out in tears after Monday's ruling.

She scoffed at the notion that Steffek was a real tea party activist.

"Then where was he?" Lollio asked looking around the room. "If I was a legitimate tea party guy, I'd show up and say, 'Hey, I'm one of you.' .. There could be nobody sitting in this room and not know what this fake tea party was about. It's just fraud."

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.