Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Grover Norquist Redux

Hopefully, you will remember the name Grover Norquist, featured in my two-part article in December, 2004. I gave him the appellation “The Invisible Man,” due to his virtual anonymity, even amongst the vast majority of Republicans. Yet, he is considered an ultra-conservative icon who exerts enormous influence within the top echelon of that party.

I wondered then, and still marvel at the fact that despite his recorded relationships and close dealings with dubious Islamists, some who have been jailed, his reputation has remained intact. Apparently, however, Mr. Norquist has a predilection for associating with less than virtuous characters. An article in the May 23rd issue of The New York Times headlined, “Link to Lobbyist Brings Scrutiny to GOP Figure” related, “In Republican Washington, Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist worked all the angles. One was a $750 and hour lobbyist, the other an anti-tax activist, and they helped drive the GOP takeover of the capital and cement the party’s power.” To put the icing on the cake, the article continued, “Both had a close ally in House majority leader Tom DeLay. And they shared a conservative ideology and a friendship going back to their days in college.”

While Mr. Abramoff’s problems have been well documented, it is only now that Mr. Norquist has attracted attention, since a Congressional Committee that has been investigating whether Indian tribes were defrauded by Mr. Abramoff, have subpoenaed records from the Americans for Tax Reform, the organization headed by Mr. Norquist. The subpoena is the result of Norquist’s refusal, over the past six months, to turn over the records voluntarily.

In addition, the Justice Department is reviewing records of an advocacy group that Norquist started with Gale Norton, Now Bush’s secretary of the Interior. There have been reports that Mr. Abramoff instructed Indian tribes to give that organization $250,000. As if that wasn’t enough, The Times reports that “Mr. Norquist’s name appears over and over in newly disclosed documents outlining work in the Northern Mariana Islands , an American protectorate in the pacific, which Democrats are agitating to investigate.” If only half of these latter allegations are true, this will be a disgraceful scandal, in which, incidentally, Tom De Lay was deeply involved.

The Times describes Norquist as “Temperamental and sound-bite ready, Mr. Norquist, 48, has had a hand in nearly every conservative cause in Washington for nearly two decades—from naming institutions after Ronald Reagan to the current battle over judicial nominees—largely through his Wednesday meetings, weekly beat-the-drum sessions attended by lobbyists, think tanks, and politicians that command such influence that the Bush administration routinely sends an envoy.” (You might recall that you read about this over six months ago in this blog.)

Although Mr. Norquist may be on the way (albeit reluctantly) to shedding his invisible cloak and becoming all too transparent, despite all the revelations in the world, he has proven himself to be immune to any type of censure. With friends like those described above, unless Republicans lose their position of power, Mr. Norquist will continue to rule.


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