Pat Dixon, chair of the Libertarian Party of Texas, had an op-ed published on August 10 in the Austin American-Statesman. Dixon comments:
As far back as February 2007, discussions on the Libertarian Party of Illinois’ email list mentioned a modern-day Boston Tea Party. In late 2008, the party decided to hold a tax protest called the Chicago Tea Party and scheduled it for tax day, April 15, 2009. In January 2009, they began to promote the event through Meetup groups, Facebook and elsewhere.
Then on Feb. 19, 2009, CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, during a live televised broadcast from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, mentioned the idea of a Chicago Tea Party. The broadcast resulted in rapid proliferation of the idea on the Internet, and the event exploded into a mass movement.
It should be noted that the tea party movement started long before the health care debate and while Republicans still controlled the federal government. There was already outrage over the decisions being made in government at federal, state and local levels prior to the swearing in of Barack Obama. At its origin, it was a Libertarian movement. The founders and participants were socially liberal and economically conservative.