Ripon Society

Ripon Society

The Ripon Society is a centrist Republican think tank, founded on December 12, 1962, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The name is a reference to Ripon, Wisconsin, the birthplace of the Republican Party; the Society sees itself as urging a return to the party's founding principles. The first president of the society was John S Saloma III, an assistant professor of political science at M.I.T. [,9171,940923,00.html "The Ripon Report"] , "Time Magazine", February 19, 1965]

The current president is Richard Kessler, who replaced longtime president and former Minnesota Representative Bill Frenzel in March 2004. The society named Elvis Oxley, son of former Representative Mike Oxley, as its new executive director at the same time. Oxley later departed Ripon for The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association as their Senior Director of Government Affairs. [ [,+Executive+Director,+and+Grassroots+Plans.html?refid=ency_botnm "Ripon Society Announces New President, Executive Director, and Grassroots Plan"] , Ripon Society news release, March 22, 2004] Reporting on the change, a Washington Times columnist said "the Ripon Society tells us it is making a bid to emerge as Washington's pre-eminent right-thinking think tank on issues such as government spending, entitlement reform and national security." [John McCaslin, [ "Inside the Beltway"] , "Washington Times", March 19, 2004]

Early political statements

The first public statement of the society was distributed to Republican leaders on January 6, 1964, as the 1964 Presidential campaign officially began. The statement included the following:

We believe that the future of our party lies not in extremism, but in moderation. The moderate course offers the Republican Party the best chance to build a durable majority position in American politics. This is the direction the party must take if it is to win the confidence of the “new Americans” who are not at home in the politics of another generation:
*the new middle classes of the suburbs of the North and West – who have left the Democratic cities but have not yet found a home in the Republican party;
*the young college graduates and professional men and women of our great university centers – more concerned with "opportunity" than "security";
*the moderates of the new South – who represent the hope for peaceful racial adjustment and who are insulted by a racist appeal more fitting another generation. These and other like them hold the key to the future of our politics. [< [ "Ripon History: A Call to Action"] , Ripon Society website, accessed September 21, 2006]

In early 1965, the society, then consisting of 80 young GOP intellectuals, mostly academics, issued a report criticizing the presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater. The report said the campaign was "one of the dullest, emptiest, lowest-level campaigns in the history of American presidential politics. The whole cast of the Republican effort was too often amateurish, almost never profound, occasionally tasteless, and almost always ineffective."

1984 book

In 1984, a book by Saloma, "Ominous Politics: the new conservative labyrinth", was published posthumously. Its publication was sponsored by the liberal magazine The Nation. In the book, Saloma presented a strong critique of the emergence of the 'New Right' and was an early observer of the influence of conservative foundations, such as the Scaife Foundations, and conservative think tanks and advocacy groups, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. Saloma argued that the emergence of the New Right was the result of a process of active politics (but not a conspiracy) on the part of a small number of very wealthy individuals who learnt the lessons from the failure of the presidential ambitions of Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Lobbying and lobbyists

Richard S. Kessler, the current president of the society is also president of Kessler & Associates, a lobbying firm. Among the clients of that company, according to the most recent disclosure forms as of January 2006, are Detroit casino syndicators Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr.; Pfizer Inc. and three other major drug companies; Altria Group Inc., the corporate parent of cigarette maker Philip Morris USA; and railroad giant BNSF Railway.

During 2003 and 2004, the nineteen board members of the society and of the Ripon Education Fund, which became a separate organization at the end of 2002, included seventeen registered lobbyists. Ten of those seventeen were people who lobby for Kessler clients.According to Public Citizen, members of Congress have gone on trips that cost the society and the education fund $742,000 since 2000. In addition, Kessler's clients have provided another $273,000 for congressional travel. For example, on an August 2003 trip to London, the education fund paid the travel costs for twenty members of Congress. The elected officials were accompanied by more than 100 lobbyists, who each paid their own way, as well as a $9,500 corporate sponsor fee. [ [ "Richard Kessler and theRipon Groups: How Lobbyists Give Lawmakers Free Trips Despite the Ban on Lobbyist-Funded Travel" (pdf)] , Public Citizen, January 2006] [ [ Lobbyists Help Fund Ripon Society Travel] , Thomas B. Edsall, "Washington Post", January 23, 2006]

The Ripon Education Fund is also headed by a lobbyist: its chair is former Representative Susan Molinari, whose clients as of mid-2005 included Exxon, the Association of American Railroads, and Freddie Mac. [Elizabeth Drew, [ "Selling Washington"] , The New York Review of Books, June 23, 2005] . Kessler's sister Robin, a nurse by practice, is also employed by the society in an upper management capacity. Kessler's confidante George McNeill of Danby, VT runs the society remotely as their COO according to the website.

Advisory board

Advisory board members as of 2004 include the following U.S. Senators:
*Susan M. Collins
*Chuck Hagel
*Orrin Hatch
*Pat Roberts
*Olympia J. Snowe
*Arlen Specter
*Ted Stevens

Advisory board members as of 2004 include the following members of the U.S. House of Representatives:
*Jim Leach
*Jim Greenwood
*Jerry Lewis
*Sherwood Boehlert
*Clay Shaw
*Christopher Shays
*Paul Gillmor
*Jim Kolbe
*Dave Hobson
*Tom Petri
*Vern Ehlers
*Rodney Frelinghuysen
*Sue Kelly
*Porter Goss
*Jo Ann Emerson
*Kay Granger
*Judy Biggert
*Nancy Johnson
*Fred Upton
*Howard Coble
*Bill Thomas
*Mike Castle
*Amo Houghton
*Jim McCrery
*Mike Oxley
*Deborah Pryce
*Mark Foley
*Jack Quinn
*Jim Ramstad
*Ralph Regula
*Steve LaTourette

ee also

*Republican In Name Only
*Rockefeller Republican


External links

* [ Official website]

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