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On Tuesday, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), in a speech delivered on the floor of the House, Wolf excoriated anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, the leader of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and author of that organization’s anti-tax pledge. The group, founded in 1985 at the request of president Ronald Reagan, has spent more than two-and-a-half decades pushing GOP politicians to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which asks them to oppose “any and all tax increases.” Yet Wolf made it clear that taxes were not the issue. It was Norquist’s association with “a number of unsavory people and groups out of the mainstream” that formed the foundation of his criticism.
“My issue is not with ATR’s goal of keeping taxes low,” Wolf contended.
“Like Ronald Reagan said, and I believe, ‘the problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.’ I want to be perfectly clear: I do not support raising taxes on the American people. My concern is with the other individuals, groups, and causes with whom Mr. Norquist is associated that have nothing to do with keeping taxes low.”
Who are those groups and individuals? Wolf began by illuminating Norquist’s association with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in 2006. Abramoff, who received a 70-month sentence in a Florida fraud conviction, was given an additional 48 months in September of 2008. Aside from the fallout that snared Congressman Robert Ney and seven other people, Abramoff had drawn attention to himself largely due to the fact that he and his partner took in $82 million from Indian tribes in the casino business. Abramoff’s relationship to Norquist? “Mr. Abramoff essentially laundered money through ATR and Mr. Norquist knew it,” Wolf contended.
Next up was Mr. Norquist’s association with Islamic terrorist financiers. They included Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2004 for his role in a plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Alamoudi pleaded guilty to illegally moving $1 million in cash from Libya to pay conspirators in the plot. Prior to his conviction, Alamoudi had headed the American Muslim Council, which met with senior officials in the Clinton and Bush administrations to promote Muslim political causes. Wolf then referred to terrorist sympathizer Sami Al-Arian, who was sentenced to 57 months in prison in 2006 after pleading guilty to conspiring to perform services for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The PIJ is a designated terrorist organization, which has conducted several attacks against Israel, and remains dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish State. Norquist was “an outspoken supporter of Al-Arian’s effort to end the use of classified evidence in terror trials,” Wolf noted.
Mr. Wolf then spoke about Mr. Norquist’s lobbying on behalf of mortgage giant Fannie Mae. He noted that even as Norquist was running ATR, he founded the lobbying firm of of Janus-Meritt Strategies with partner David Hossein Safavian. Safavian, former chief of staff of the General Services Administration (GSA), was ensnared in the Abramoff scandal and sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2006. That conviction was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which ordered a new trial. In 2008, Mr. Safavian was once again convicted. In 2000, Janus-Merit received $120,000 in lobbying fees from Fannie Mae, which disclosure records reveal was an effort to protect the home ownership tax credit. Many conservatives contend that credit was a key factor contributing to the housing bubble and the subsequent bust.
Mr. Norquist’s effort on behalf of the Internet gambling industry was Rep. Wolf’s next target. Once again, the illegal machinations of Jack Abramoff come into the picture. In 2000, in a successful effort to defeat the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, Abraham spread a lot of money around to various entities on behalf his lobbying client, eLottery Inc. One of his allies in that campaign was Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed. According to the Washington Post, Abramoff used two conduits to get Reed money for his help: Grover Norquist’s American for Tax Reform, which received a $160,000 check, and took $10,000 for itself; and the Faith and Family Alliance, which passed on the remaining $150,000 to Mr. Reed’s company, Century Strategies.
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