Tea Party Suit's Not Over, Though Law Firm Has Quit
The law firm representing a coalition of Tea Party groups suing the Florida TEA Party has quit the case, and will file its own suit.
Everett Wilkinson, head of the South Florida Tea Party and plaintiff in the lawsuit, said the firm of Quintaros, Prieto, Wood & Boyer will no longer represent his coalition in the pending federal court case.
"They have a conflict of interest," Wilkinson said of the Miami-based law firm. That conflict, he said, arose when the firm decided to take its own "civil tort" action against TEA Party leaders Frederic O'Neal and Doug Guetzloe.
O'Neal and Guetzloe were sued by Wilkinson's group, which charged that the Florida TEA Party illegally appropriated the "Tea" name.
Wilkinson said the lawsuit will proceed, and that his group is interviewing new attorneys.
Michael Caputo, a South Florida-based consultant who works on Republican campaigns, said he has funded the legal effort to the tune of $20,000 a month and confirmed he would continue to do so.
"This opens a new front. The tactic of maligning our attorneys needs to be dealt with," Caputo said.
As for the original case, Caputo said, "There won't even be a hiccup. Our case is coming to a conclusion more quickly than Doug Guetzloe will be comfortable with."
Attorney Gustavo Sardina, a patent and trademark specialist who was representing the Tea groups, said he does not speak to the press.
Guetzloe said the firm's withdrawal marks "the beginning of the end for these guys."
He said an upcoming court hearing "will determine whether or not they will be allowed to withdraw."