Everett Wilkinson: Media Darling, Fringe Tea Party Extremist

Everett Wilkinson, portly, nervous, and drenched in Polo cologne, is a man of many titles. In the past year, the New York Times has called him "Chairman of the Florida Tea Party" and a "Tea Party leader." To CNN, he's "Chairman of the South Florida Tea Party." The National Journal, perhaps the nation's premier arbiter of politics, knows him as "chairman of the Florida-based National Liberty Foundation." Fox News has even anointed him the "Tea Party Patriots' state party coordinator."

In the past four years, Wilkinson has been quoted more than 400 times in state and national media and has become, quite possibly, the most cited, nonelected conservative in Florida. If you're a journalist hammering out a political piece on deadline, he's your talking head. His phone's always on, and he always has things to say. "It was a deadline crash, and we had one hour to close," New York Times political reporter Jim Rutenberg says of a recent interview with Wilkinson. "We were glad to get him."

Adds Beth Reinhard, who once wrote for the Miami Herald and quoted Wilkinson this month in a National Journal cover story: "I left Florida 2.5 years ago, and I don't know him that well. I don't know anything about his backstory."

Which is exactly what gets left out of the column inches. Wilkinson, 34, was there when Florida's Tea Party was founded on tax day in 2009. Since then, however, he's been involved in controversy and lawsuits so extensive that the Tea Party Fort Lauderdale plasters a message at the bottom of its letters: We're "not in any way affiliated with... Everett Wilkinson, or any of his organizations that come and go."

What's more, big media either don't now about or don't bother with his out-there conspiracy theories and fringe extremism. This he saves for news releases. According to a perfunctory Wilkinson email, President Barack Obama will soon take away everyone's guns, spiraling the nation into a civil war that will spur the United Nations to send in "peacekeeping troops."

And he claims the Federal Emergency Management Agency has built more than 800 "concentration camps" all over the country to detain and silence any political dissident opposing the emerging socialistic, "if not fascist," control over the nation. The government "is gearing up for civil war," Wilkinson says.

Then there's the chilling and profane video he forwarded in a collection of news releases he emailed to New Times several weeks ago. A man rants off-camera about the government's future campaign to confiscate weapons as he films a Jo-Ann Fabrics store. "I know a lot of people aren't going to give their guns up and will try to take out as many as come knocking on their door," says the man, whom Wilkinson declined to identify. "What are we really supposed to fucking do? I guess try to take out as many of the pawns as we can."

So we sat down with Wilkinson last week, and he told us his story while cocooned in a large black suit and drinking cinnamon coffee. He grew up in rural Michigan, an hour west of Detroit, in a whitewashed township called Leslie. His parents divorced when he was young, and his mom raised and later homeschooled him. He hopped between Western Michigan University and Jackson Community College before finally obtaining a degree from an online university. Wilkinson arrived in Florida when he was 26 and opened a construction company that he claims did "very well." (A survey of state business records shows no evidence that Wilkinson ever owned a business in Florida. When asked about this, Wilkinson said, "I'm not going to talk about personal stuff, period.")

Wilkinson says he didn't enjoy the work, however, and was soon seized with a new passion: conservative activism. On February 19, 2009, Rick Santelli went on CNBC and delivered his now-iconic shelling of President Obama and the federal stimulus, saying he was planning a Chicago "tea party" in July. "I saw the video later that day and thought, 'We can't wait for July. It needs to be now.' " So Wilkinson dialed his acquaintance Sid Dinerstein, then the Palm Beach County Republican chairman. Dinerstein called his buddies, and they all organized a rally in downtown West Palm Beach.

"On April 15, 2009, we had 2,500 people," says Dinerstein, recalling the first time he saw Floridians step into Colonial garb and bellow indignation. "And we also had [then-Florida House Speaker] Marco Rubio."

Across the country, more than 1 million people had protested. Though Wilkinson says today he conceived the Tea Party, his specific role isn't clear. Dinerstein claims to be the one who founded the Tea Party movement in Florida, and Wilkinson was just a "young guy" who helped.

The Times' Rutenberg says he has "known [Wilkinson] since the inception of the movement, and he's a legitimate Tea Party guy." But that claim has been disputed time and again.

After Wilkinson incorporated the South Florida Tea Party as a nonprofit on April 20, 2009 — one of the many Tea Party organizations with which he is affiliated — he started working the phones. "He called me and said, 'Anyone who's in the Tea Party in Florida is under the South Florida Tea Party. We're heading this up,'" recalls Danita Kilcullen, Fort Lauderdale Tea Party chairwoman. "And I didn't know him from Adam."

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This guy is a joke. We conceived the tea party two years before this Wilkinson guy claims to have.... on Dec 16, 2007... 

Here is proof. http://www.nhteapartycoalition.org/tea/about-join/

Wilikinson came along with the Obama haters GOP version of the teaparty, two years later.

What a joke. The tea party was formed by libertarians and don't work for campaigns or collect money or have offices in DC.

These people are fakes.


He is so important that candidates buy his endorsement for the other guy. Scott Israel paid this clown to endorse first Louie Granteed then Al Lamberti.

He also was paid by Todd Wilder to advocate for all kinds of things from orange grove land to Genteng Gambling in Miami.


He is so important that candidates buy his endorsement for the other guy. Scott Israel paid this clown to endorse first Louie Granteed then Al Lamberti. He also was paid by Todd Wilder to advocate for all kinds of things from orange grove land to Genteng Gambling in Miami.


Well he sounds legit to me.........as legit as any other Tea-Nut......

smdrpepper topcommenter

So he IS the poster boy for all the tea baggers.  You want to find someone to blame for the problems in this country, look no farther than the party of Lipton.  Its thanks to them we cannot get anything done in this country, they even tried to stop hurricane relief!  They are all equally bad and lousy with conspiracy theorists.  Time to get rid of the lot of them.


Interesting media outlet. Every positive comment that doesnt agree with this article is removed and only the negative comments are left up.  I dont care either way but it says something about whatever this NewTimes organization is and its agenda. 

Once again.  It seems like alot of people spend alot of time talking about, writing about, and disparaging a person that has no influence, clout, or relevance according to theme of these articles. 


Slowly fade into a sterile office on the 3rd floor of a non-nondescript office building.

<< telephone ringing >>

Mr. Wilkinson, this is a diabetes calling.


Carnival barker is the most appropriate title for this guy. He is a tea party of one, with a large mailing list that he exhausts through endless fundraising appeals. As for the extreme nature of his emails, the extreme element is all that remains of the tea party and these wingnut issues prompt a better response for the appeal for funds -- which is what Wilkinson is really all about. I'm surprised there was no mention of him being bankrolled in 2010 by gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum to set up his opponent, current Gov. Rick Scott. To call this guy a fraud is an insult to the fraudulent.


@badazzcivic NO real movement endorses candidates. They work on issues. This guy thinks he was the one who thought of the tea party but we'd also marched on DC in July of 2008 as well. EVen our NH tea party had 4,000 people on the park in 2009... and had been in operation for 2 years already.