At least two national groups that have emerged as major players in the movement rejected requests to buy sponsorships for the convention — which were going for as much $50,000 — while three other groups have recently withdrawn as sponsors, with two citing concerns over organizer infighting and questions about the convention’s unusual finances.

Meanwhile, about 50 local tea party leaders from across Tennessee are planning to attend a sort of counter-convention caucus set for this Saturday in Nashville, while some activists are discussing staging protests outside next month’s convention, which will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center…

Hemrick had occasionally donated to conservative candidates and causes, but said “this is the first time that I’ve gotten actively involved in something trying to make a difference.” He wanted to bring Palin to Nashville to try to unite tea party activists “and get them going in one direction,” he explained.

But that wasn’t the impression Hemrick left with several tea party activists on a mid-November conference call, when in the midst of arguing how important money was to a successful convention and broader political movement, Hemrick mentioned that he intended to pitch Palin on a business venture he and some partners were developing.