Just got this in my inbox from the LCR about their DC fly-in next Friday for "Trustee" level donors (I can't find a parallel document on their site, so, sorry, no link):
Supporters who are giving at the "Trustee" level and above are invited to attend the DC Fly-In. Participants will spend the day on Capitol Hill meeting with Members of Congress, hearing from pundits and policymakers, and enjoying fun social events, including a cocktail reception at the home of former Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ). The program will feature Amy Walter, Editor-in-Chief of The Hotline, offering her insights about politics and the 2008 election cycle as well as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. The day will conclude with the Evening Parade, a formal military parade at the Marine Barracks. This is a day you won't want to miss. For more information and to RSVP for this day, contact Jimmy LaSalvia.
Oh my, you read correctly, they're proudly waving the Grover Norquist flag here. Apparently Mr. I'll-set-up-a-front-for-Jack-Abramoff's-money-laundering is a great person to speak to the LCR's about the future of their organization.
According to the Washington Post, Norquist, who headed the Americans for Tax Reform, a non-profit group, and used it with Jack Abramoff to funnel money from the Choctaw Indians, a tribe with casinos in Alabama opposed to the proposed state lottery, to Ralph Reed's Century Strategies, a right-wing Christian group (from Paul Kiel):
Everybody who's been paying attention to the Abramoff scandal knows that when Ralph Reed, the boy-king of the Christian right, went to work for Jack Abramoff's Indian casino clients (his job was to roust grassroots Christians against competiting gambling platforms), he got skittish about accepting money from the tribes directly, since he's, you know, supposed to be anti-gambling. So he used non-profits, like Grover Norquist's American for Tax Reform, as pass-throughs to disguise the origin of the funds.
But it's refreshing to hear the Senate Indian Affairs Committee not mince words in their report. As part of their retelling of Abramoff's work for the Mississippi Choctaws, the report provides a damning blow-by-blow of how Reed came on this scheme, and how Norquist got started accepting a "management fee" (read: laundering fee) for his services.
The report is unequivocal. According to the Choctaw's planner, Nell Rogers, the tribe agreed to launder the money because "Ralph Reed did not want to be paid directly by a tribe with gaming interests." And at one point, she told the committee, Norquist became "nervous" about laundering the money. (But apparently not too nervous, because he kept on doing it.)
Norquist's money-grabbing "management fees" got pretty big and were even enough to annoy Jack Abramoff, the guy who ultimately pleaded guilty to money laundering and other charges (and is serving 5 years and ten months) to his dealing with the Choctaw tribe (from the Washington Post):
Abramoff, however, 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.
Grover isn't in jail now and was never prosecuted for money laundering. Melanie Sloan at CREW contends that the man violated the non-profit status of the AFT and should be prosecuted for that (because funneling money for other groups and taking a management fee, even if it isn't intrinsically illegal, isn't something that nonprofits can do and maintain that status).
So I wonder why the LCR's think that this guy is a great person to be speaking to the group in any sort of capacity. Sure, they'll say that a lot of what he did an admitted to was barely legal and he was never prosecuted for the actually illegal stuff, despite the large amount of evidence for it, but that doesn't mean that he should now just turn around and tell others what to do.
And it's not like right-wingers like him all that much either. According to Tucker Carlson (original link is dead but the quotation's still up at Wikipedia), he's a "mean-spirited, humorless, dishonest little creep ... an embarrassing anomaly, the leering, drunken uncle everyone else wishes would stay home...[he] is repulsive, granted, but there aren't nearly enough of him to start a purge trial."
Also, he's straight, and not that straights shouldn't be meeting with queer groups, but I do wonder what the LCR's hope to talk about with Norquist.
Then again, considering that David Brock said "that even fellow right-wingers privately refer to him as 'Grosser Nosetwist' and try to avoid being trapped in conversation with him at social gatherings because he never talks about anything other than politics," I think he can empathize with the LCR's.