Las Vegas resort sues tea party group over hotel bill

Some Tennessee tea partiers are in hot water with a Las Vegas gambling resort that's accusing them of skipping out on a big hotel bill.

On Monday Venetian Casino Resort, LLC., filed suit against Tea Party Nation Corporation of Franklin, Tenn., alleging the group owes $642,144 for canceling a conservative conclave last year.

The event, which had been scheduled for July 14-18, 2010, was first postponed until October and ultimately canceled.

The Daily Caller reported at the time there was a lack of people willing to pay $399 for a weekend pass or $125 per day to hear speakers such as conservative commentator Laura Ingraham or politician Sharron Angle, who at the time was in the midst of a failed campaign to oust Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Las Vegas.

The lawsuit covers the dates for the proposed July event.

Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation said he hasn't seen the lawsuit and wouldn't comment on the accusations. Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said the company would have no comment on the case.

Documents in the case filed in Clark County District Court allege the group reserved 1,637 room nights in the Palazzo hotel from Wednesday, July 14, 2010, through the following Saturday.

The Venetian and Palazzo resorts are owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp., and regularly host conservative political events. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson is a major Republican political donor.

According to a contract attached to the complaint, the reservation included an agreement by Tea Party Nation to pay the resort $579,148 in the event of a cancellation, of which the resort alleges the group still owes $554,148. An 18 percent interest charge added $87,996 to the amount the resort wants to collect.

It's not the first time Tea Party Nation ran into problems hosting an event.

After charging up to $549 to attend a February 2010 event that included a speech by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, some in the tea party political movement accused the for-profit Tea Party Nation of leveraging conservative enthusiasm for monetary gain.

When the October event in Las Vegas was canceled, some Nevada conservatives were relieved.

"They were kind of opportunistic," Frank Ricotta, vice chairman of the Clark County Republican Party and a former state director of Nevada Patriots, said at the time.

Debbie Landis, the head of Action is Brewing, a Northern Nevada tea party group, told the Review-Journal the cancellation was "the best news I've heard all day."

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at or 702-477-3861.