Conservative group lands Norquist for fundraiser

Talking politics
By IAN DONNIS  |  November 19, 2007
Grover Norquist
To those not of the conservative persuasion, Grover Norquist, the president of Washington, DC-based Americans for Tax Reform, is probably best known for saying, “My goal is to cut government in half in 25 years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” (In an interview with Bill Moyers, Norquist denies having made the latter part of this statement.)
Regardless, Norquist is one of the leaders of the contemporary conservative movement, and the Ocean State Policy Research Institute (, a newish right-leaning think tank, has scored quite a coup by attracting him for a fundraiser on the evening of Wednesday, December 12.
While the Bush administration has attracted the criticism of many conservatives for its profligate spending, Norquist remains an icon for many on the right.
As his bio on the Web site of Americans for Tax Reform notes, “In the words of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist is ‘the person who I regard as the most innovative, creative, courageous and entrepreneurial leader of the anti-tax efforts and of conservative grassroots activism in America . . . He has truly made a difference and truly changed American history.’
The ATR bio also quotes P.J. O’Rourke as having said, “Grover Norquist is Tom Paine crossed with Lee Atwater plus just a soupcon of Madame Defarge.”
Bill Felkner, director of the Ocean State Policy Research Institute, appeared with former Republican Congressional candidate Jon Scott on Norquist’s Leave Us Alone radio program not long after OSPRI was launched in July.
Felkner, a member of the Chariho Regional School Committee, spoke of how, as he put it, “Rhode Island is very much in the socialist mind-camp of our advocacy groups.” The activist told Norquist that OSPRI, whose board members include Sue Carcieri, hopes to promote free market ideas, “the American culture,” and individual liberties.
Liberals regard Norquist with considerably less favor, although his influence is undeniable.
According to Sourcewatch, “Shortly after Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States in 1992, Norquist began hosting a weekly 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.
“The ‘Wednesday Meeting’ of Norquist’s Leave Us Alone Coalition has become an important hub of conservative political organizing. Presi¬dent Bush began sending a representative to the Wednesday Meeting even before he formally announced his candidacy for president. ‘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.’ ”

A version of this story was posted November 15 on

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