Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist

Grover Glenn Norquist (born October 19, 1956) is president of anti-tax lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform.

Early years and career

Norquist, who is of Swedish descent, grew up in Weston, Massachusetts and has a BA and MBA from Harvard University. After leaving professional school, Norquist became executive director of both the National Taxpayers Union and the national College Republicans organization, holding both positions until 1983.

Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, at the request of President Ronald Reagan, and has headed the organization ever since. [ ATR | Mission Statement ] ] From 1985 to 1988, Norquist was also an economic advisor to Angola UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi.] During this period, he was registered with the United States Department of Justice as a foreign agent of Angola.]

In addition to heading Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist is currently on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association [ [ NRA Leaders - Grover Norquist ] ] and the American Conservative Union. [ [ American Conservative Union ] ] He is chairman emeritus of the Islamic Free Market Institute.

Political importance on national politics

Norquist, along with Bill Kristol, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Clint Bolick, and David McIntosh, is one of the so-called "Gang of Five" identified in Nina Easton's 2000 book by that name, which gives a history of leaders of the modern conservative movement. He has been described as "a thumb-in-the-eye radical rightist" ("The Nation"), and "Tom Paine crossed with Lee Atwater plus just a of Madame Defarge" (P.J. O'Rourke). Norquist's page on the web site of Americans for Tax Reform includes a laudatory quote about him from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Indeed, Norquist co-authored the 1994 Contract with America.

In 1999, he was instrumental in securing early support for then Texas Governor George W. Bush, continuing a decades-long association with Karl Rove ("The Wall Street Journal's John Fund dubbed him "the Grand Central Station" of conservatism and told "The Nation": "It's not disputable" that Norquist was the key to the Bush campaign's surprising level of support from movement conservatives in 2000"). [cite news |title=Grover Norquist: The Republican Party's Prophet of Permanence |first=Chris |last=Suellentrop |work=Slate |date=2003-07-07 |url= ] After Bush's election to the White House in 2000, Norquist was the prime architect behind the many Bush tax-cuts ("Grover Norquist: 'Field Marshal' of the Bush Plan"). [cite news |title=Grover Norquist: 'Field Marshall' of the Bush Plan |first=Robert |last=Dreyfus |work=The Nation |date=2001-04-26 |url= ]

Norquist is "adept at media appearances ... writes a monthly politics column for the "American Spectator" magazine, and frequently speaks at regional and state think tanks of the conservative movement," according to the critical website MediaTransparency.Org.

Wednesday Meetings

Shortly after Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States in 1992, Norquist began hosting a weekly, off-the-record get-together of conservatives in his Washington office to coordinate activities and strategy. "We were sort of like the Mensheviks after the Russian Revolution," recalls Marshall Wittmann, who attended the first meeting as a representative of the Christian Coalition.

In 1994, Norquist worked with Newt Gingrich and the Heritage Foundation to draft the Contract with America.

The "Wednesday Meeting" of Norquist's Leave Us Alone Coalition has become an important hub of conservative political organizing. George W. Bush began sending a representative to the Wednesday Meeting even before he formally announced his candidacy for president in 1999. "Now a White House aide attends each week," reported "USA Today" in June 2001. "Vice President Cheney sends his own representative. So do GOP congressional leaders, right-leaning think tanks, conservative advocacy groups and some like-minded K Street lobbyists. The meeting has been valuable to the White House because it is the political equivalent of one-stop shopping. By making a single pitch, the administration can generate pressure on members of Congress, calls to radio talk shows, and political buzz from dozens of grassroots organizations. It also enables the White House to hear conservatives vent in private — and to respond — before complaints fester". [ - Norquist's power high, profile low ] ]

Susan Page of USA Today said, “And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, consider this: At the urging of House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt, a group of labor leaders, environmentalists, abortion-rights activists and others this spring began a weekly session chaired by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. She says the group was formed to provide ‘an open exchange of information about a shared agenda.’ When do they usually meet? On Wednesday.” [ - Norquist's power high, profile low ] ]

Lobbying career

Norquist has represented various corporate interests, including American Express, National Rifle Association, and Microsoft. [cite web|title=Adventure Capitalism|author=Greg Palast|date=October 26, 2004|url=] Records show that Microsoft paid Grover Norquist $60,000 in 1999. [cite news |first= |last= |coauthors= |title=Microsoft defends ties to Ralph Reed |date= |publisher= |url = |work = |pages = |accessdate = 2007-10-02 |language = ]

Influence on state and local politics

Norquist's national strategy includes recruiting politicians at the state and local levels.

In 2004, Norquist helped California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with selling his plan to privatize the CalPERS system. [cite news
title=CSR in the Cross-Hairs
publisher=Business Ethics
date=spring 2005

In Virginia, Norquist was involved in the 2005 Republican primaries, trying to unseat a number of legislators who voted for higher taxes. Norquist has helped to set up regular meetings for conservatives in many states, meetings modeled after his Wednesday meetings in Washington. He wants to set up a nationwide network of conservative activists that he can call upon to support conservative causes, such as tax cuts and deregulation. There are now meetings in 48 states.cite news |url = |title = Wednesdays with Grover |publisher = New Yorker |author = John Cassidy |date = July 25, 2001 |accessdate = 2007-04-30]

Connections to Jack Abramoff

Jack Abramoff pled guilty to conspiracy to corrupt public officials, mail fraud and tax evasion on January 3, 2006. According to an investigative report on Abramoff's lobbying released in June 2006 by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) served as a "conduit" for funds that flowed from Abramoff's clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns. A second group Norquist was involved with, the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, received about $500,000 in Abramoff client funds. [cite news |title=Nonprofit Groups Funneled Money for Abramoff |work=The Washington Post |date=2006-06-25 |first=Susan |last=Schmidt |coauthors=Grimaldi, James V |page=A01 |url= ]

Norquist has been close friends with Abramoff since college, when he ran Abramoff's successful campaign to become national chairman of the College Republicans.

In 1996, the Choctaw tribe, an Abramoff client, donated $60,000 to ATR to oppose a tax on Indian casinos. The funds continued; in 1999, Norquist moved $1.15 million in Abramoff client money to Ralph Reed's for-profit political consulting company, Century Strategies, and to anti-gambling groups working to defeat a state lottery in Alabama. The money routing was deliberate: in one email reminder to himself, Abramoff wrote: "Call Ralph re Grover doing pass through."

In May 1999, Norquist asked Abramoff "What is the status of the Choctaw stuff?", in an email. "I have a 75g [$75,000] hole in my budget from last year. ouch." Abramoff eventually grew annoyed at the amount that Norquist took off the top before sending the money on, e-mails show. "Grover kept another $25 k!" Abramoff wrote in a February 2000 note to himself. []

On May 9, 2001, Chief Raul Garza of the Kickapoo tribe of Texas met with President Bush, with Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist in attendance. Days before the meeting, the tribe paid $25,000 to Grover Norquist's ATR at Abramoff's direction. According to the organization's communications director, John Kartch, the meeting was one of several gatherings with President Bush sponsored by ATR. On the same day, the chief of the Louisiana Coushattas also attended an ATR-sponsored gathering with President Bush. The Coushattas also gave $25,000 to ATR soon before the event.

The details of the Kickapoo meeting and a letter dated May 10, 2001 from ATR thanking the Kickapoos for their contribution were revealed to the New York Times in 2006 by former council elder Isidro Garza, who with Raul Garza (no relation), is under indictment in Texas for embezzling tribal money. According to Isidro Garza, Abramoff did not say the donation was required to meet the president; the White House denied any knowledge of the transaction.cite news|url=
title=$25,000 to Lobby Group Is Tied to Access to Bush
publisher=New York Times
author=Philip Shenon
date=March 10, 2006

Emails released in an October 12, 2006 report by the US Senate Finance Committee investigation, show that Norquist exchanged support for cash donations to ATR. Abramoff asked Norquist, "I have sent over a $50K contribution from DH2 (the mutual fund client). Any sense as to where we are on the op-ed placement?"To which Norquist replied, "The Wash Times told me they were running the piece. . . . I will nudge again."cite news|url=
title=Report Says Nonprofits Sold Influence to Abramoff
publisher=Washington Post
author=James V. Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt
date=October 13, 2006

Norquist denies that he has done anything wrong, although the association with Abramoff has affected his reputation.

Janus-Merritt Strategies

In 1997, Norquist and lawyer David Safavian founded a lobbying firm, the Merritt Group, later renamed Janus-Merritt Strategies (sometimes referred to as "Janus Merritt" or simply "Janus"). Over the next five years, the firm's clients included international companies, Indian gaming interests, the government of Pakistan and the government of Gabon, and the American Muslim Council and Abdurahman Alamoudi, a fierce supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah.On July 30, 2004 Abdurahman Alamoudi, pled guilty to three charges of illegal dealings with Libya, after admitting that he participated in a plot to murder Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah for Muammar al-Gaddafi and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from top Libyan officials, in addition to tax and immigration violations. He was sentenced to 23 years in jail. Senate disclosure reports on file show that for years Janus-Merritt registered as a lobbyist for Alamoudi. In 2002, Janus-Merritt was sold to the firm Williams Mullen. Norquist has refused to release tax records of the firm for the period during which he and Safavian owned the company.

Other Political Positions

Minimizing government power and complete deregulation of the economy

The Americans for Tax Reform mission statement is "The government's power to control one's life derives from its power to tax. We believe that power should be minimized." [ [ Mission Statement] Americans for Tax Reform]

The pledge of "no new taxes" that many Republican legislators have signed was his project. As of mid-2005, more than two hundred and twenty Republicans in the House of Representatives had signed this pledge; in the Senate, forty-six Republicans had done so.

"Cutting the government in half in one generation is both an ambitious and reasonable goal," Norquist stated in May 2000. "If we work hard we will accomplish this and more by 2025. Then the conservative movement can set a new goal. I have a recommendation: To cut government in half again by 2050". [ The Insider Online ] ] To that end, Norquist has been noted for his widely quoted quip: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." [""> ]

Following Hurricane Katrina, Thomas Friedman wrote an op-ed in the "New York Times" stating "An administration whose tax policy has been dominated by the toweringly selfish Grover Norquist ... doesn't have the instincts for this moment. Mr. Norquist is the only person about whom I would say this: I hope he owns property around the New Orleans levee that was never properly finished because of a lack of tax dollars. I hope his basement got flooded. And I hope that he was busy drowning government in his bathtub when the levee broke and that he had to wait for a U.S. Army helicopter to get out of town." [ Osama and Katrina - New York Times ] ]

When asked by Alain de Botton, "Why shouldn't the state help the needy?", in the television adaptation of "Status Anxiety", Norquist replied, "Because to do that, you would have to steal money from people who earned it and give it to people who didn't. And then you make the state into a thief." Botton follows with, "You're suggesting that taxation is theft?" Norquist continues, "Taxation beyond the legitimate requirements of providing for justice is theft, sure."

Comparison of the estate tax to the Holocaust

A small controversy erupted after an [ interview] between Norquist and Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air program. In the interview, Grover Norquist compared the morality that allows the estate tax to that which permitted the Holocaust.

Norquist stated that "the morality that says it's OK to do something to do a group because they're a small percentage of the population is the morality that says that the Holocaust is OK because they didn't target everybody, just a small percentage." [ [] , Terry Gross "Fresh Air October 2003 ]


On April 2, 2005, Norquist married Kuwait-born Samah Alrayyes, who until then had been the director of the Islamic Free Market Institute. She is a CEO of her own communications firm and formerly a Public Affairs Specialist for Arab and Muslim outreach at the Bureau of Legislative and Public Affairs at USAID. [ [ "Conference speaker biographies", Network of Arab American Professionals, 3rd Annual Conference, September 2005] ]

Religious beliefs

In contrast to his outspoken positions on political issues, when it comes to spiritual matters, Norquist prefers to play it closer to the vest. When asked by Washington, D.C.-based journalist Dave Sperry if he had converted to his wife's faith, Norquist brushed the question off as "too personal". [cite web
url ={7AC5AB9D-FD67-4C7A-8E73-920D68945F3D}
title = Infiltration
author = Jamie Glazov
journal =
date = April 12, 2005


Grover Norquist's book "Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives" [] was published on March 11, 2008 by HarperCollins. Karl Rove said about Grover's new book, “Grover Norquist is provocative, intellectually fearless, and always worth paying attention to. His new book is Grover at his best, which is very, very good. Read this important volume and you’ll understand why Norquist plays such a key role in American politics.” Dick Morris also said, “The old dichotomies of left vs. right or liberal vs. conservative have increasingly little relevance for the politics of America. But Norquist’s formulation, the leave-us-aloners vs. the takers, is vital, relevant, and incisive. Viewed through this prism, politics makes sense.”


ee also

*Democratic International
*K Street Project

External links

* [ Grover Norquist profile, NNDB] .
* [ A lecture] given by Elizabeth Drew at the Ninth Annual Knight Lecture, Stanford University, May 5, 1997.
* [ Testimony by Norquist] to the Senate Judiciary Committee, September 7, 2001.
*Franklin Foer, " [ Fevered Pitch] ", and article from "The New Republic", November 12, 2001, alleging ties between Norquist and radical Islamist elements.
* [ An article] from "National Review", March 19, 2003, describing a clash between Norquist and Frank Gaffney over Norquist's alleged ties to radical Islam.
* [,0,7325314.story?coll=orl-opinion-headlines An article] about Norquist in the "Orlando Sentinel"
* [ FEC complaint filed against Norquist] , 4 February 2004.
* [ Grover Norquist] compares the estate tax to the Holocaust.
* [ Norquist's articles] for the "American Spectator", the American Enterprise Institute and other venues.
* [ Speeches and Testimony] by Grover Norquist and other ATR staff.
* [ Norquist interview] with "Reason" Magazine, February 1997.
* [ Audio interview with National Review Online]
* [ transcript of an interview with Norquist] on "NOW with Bill Moyers".
* [ Government website from 1997] listing Grover Norquist as an agent of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA rebels in Angola and as an agent of the government of Seychelles who attempted to influence US Government policy in both of these nations.
* [ Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist Billing Clients for Face Time with G.W. Bush]

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