The Cincinnati Tea Party will offer refunds after Fox News host Sean Hannity pulled out of an appearance at its Tax Day rally — a cancellation that the group said has not been fully explained.
"We've offered refunds. Although it was not our error, we felt it was the right thing to do for the attendees," Cincinnati Tea Party spokesman Justin Binik-Thomas told TVGuide.com.
Binik-Thomas said more than 10,000 people turned out for Thursday's rally at the University of Cincinnati, which was going to be preceded by a book-signing by Hannity and followed by the taping of his show on campus. Biniki-Thomas said he was told Hannity had to return home to New York for a personal emergency after the book-signing was abruptly canceled.
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The network says it pulled Hannity over the event's admission fees.
"Fox News never agreed to allow the Cincinnati Tea Party organizers to use Sean Hannity's television program to profit from broadcasting his show from the event," Bill Shine, the network's executive vice president of programming, told the Los Angeles Times Thursday. "When senior executives in New York were made aware of this, we changed our plans for tonight's show."
The $5 fee was designed to offset the cost of the event, Binik-Thomas said, adding that as of Friday afternoon, he had not been given a concrete reason from Fox News for the cancellation.
"I have read the allegation regarding the tickets ... but I haven't received it from anyone personally," he said. "I haven't gotten that information from an @FoxNews e-mail or read that on the Fox News website. They haven't contacted us. ... I've left messages at Fox — e-mails and voicemails and I have not received confirmation in either direction."
The Cincinnati Tea Party did not book Hannity for the rally appearance, Binik-Thomas said. Instead, he said the CTP and Hannity each had a separate contract with the University of Cincinnati for their respective events.
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"They were completely separate events. They chose not to come. That was their decision. It did not impact our event," he said. "We had 10,000 people come together celebrate the liberty and the freedom that we have and our core values. Our event was very positive."
Despite the cancellation, Binik-Thomas said he's not angry with Fox News or Hannity. "It's their decision to make, not mine, and they can spend their money and their personnel as they see fit. I don't hold a grudge," he said. "People came for the tea party and anything Hannity-related was a bonus."
Calls and e-mails to Fox News were not immediately returned.