Secret suburban Tea Party party?

I thought the tea party movement was all about transparency. Doesn’t seem that way in the Philly burbs.

Tea party groups from southeastern Pennsylvania are hosting a Republican candidates’ forum tonight at the Quality Inn Conference Center in Montgomeryville. It’s being billed on tea party Web sites as “an evening of frank discussion between the Tea Party Coalition and those candidates who seek our votes for public service.”

Then there’s this: “The entire event is OFF THE RECORD as we expect a forthright but respectful conversation. No recording or video devices will be permitted.” What?

There’s a time and place for off the record, but this clearly ain’t it, with a major election less than two months away. Why can’t the candidates be on the record and “frank” simultaneously, so the rest of the electorate can hear what they have to say?

The Valley Forge Patriots Web site lists the attendees as: Gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett and congressional candidates Mike Fitzpatrick, Dee Adcock and Pat Meehan. (Meehan’s campaign says he’s not attending due to a previously scheduled event. I haven't heard back from the Corbett or Fitzpatrick campaigns. Adcock is attending).

GOP sources say the event was closed to the press at the request of the tea party groups, not the candidates. I haven’t heard back from the tea party organizers about why it’s off the record, but I was invited to talk to the candidates “before and after the forum,” which is kind of like talking to them before and after a debate, but waiting outside during the debate itself.