EXCLUSIVE -- Secret Emails: Pro-Immigration Reform Consultants, Think Tanks Testify Through Grover Norquist
In addition to the emails showing Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) working with the libertarian Cato Institute and pro-Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) to shape pro-immigraiton reform messages in the wake of the Boston terror attack, additional emails obtained exclusively by Breitbart News suggest the two think tank groups are working closely together to push the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration bill through Congress.
On Thursday afternoon at 5:19 p.m., Josh Culling, the state government affairs manager at ATR, wrote to consultant Peggy Ellis, the former director of government affairs at the Cato Institute, asking for help in crafting Norquist’s congressional testimony on immigration on Monday.
“I need to push on this…this is the one question GGN [Grover Glenn Norquist] may get when testifying that I don't have a strong answer to,” Culling wrote to Ellis in an email headlined “Social security.” “Can you see if your old boss at Cato can help?”
Norquist is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday as part of a marathon of at least 20 witnesses that the committee’s chairman, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), is rushing in one day. Leahy declined to hear the witnesses over several hearings, which might have allowed the public, the press and the members of the committee more time to debate their testimony.
On Thursday evening, Ellis responded to Culling that she would be pleased to help craft Norquist’s testimony before Congress. “Will do--please send the AEI guy’s piece,” Ellis wrote. “And DeMint’s if you have it handy. And I’m happy to help w Grover’s testimony. Around this weekend and available--will work on n [sic] the SS stuff first.”
Culling wrote back to Ellis with the information she requested. “Thank you, Peggy. Social security stuff below,” Culling wrote with links to a piece from American Enterprise Institute’s Andrew Biggs arguing that the Gang of Eight immigration bill may have a more disparate impact on Social Security than some think, and a piece from Heritage Foundation president former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and Heritage’s vice president for domestic and economic policy Derrick Morgan in USA Today that argued against the bill on the grounds it costs too much.
Culling singled out what he considered a “Relevant DeMint excerpt” for Ellis:
Delaying eligibility for federal benefits to newly legalized immigrants merely puts off the day of reckoning. The truly enormous costs come when unauthorized immigrants start collecting retirement benefits. Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and other entitlement programs already impose huge, unfunded liabilities on taxpayers; adding more recipients only makes the fiscal hole we find ourselves in much deeper. An amnesty of more than 10 million unauthorized immigrants will add significant costs to taxpayers because of the simple fact that, on average, today's unauthorized immigrants have the equivalent of a 10th-grade education. Those with that education level, whatever their background, tend to collect much more in benefits than they pay in taxes. And that means that the fiscal burden on Americans only gets heavier with amnesty. We cannot afford a policy that will add trillions of dollars to our long-term fiscal deficit.
Less than an hour later, Ellis wrote to her former colleague Mike Tanner, Cato’s Social Security analyst, copying Alex Nowrasteh, the group’s immigration analyst, who has contested some of the Heritage Foundation’s work on immigration. “I’m hoping I might tempt you to respond to Jim DeMint’s USAToday piece on immigration & Social Security--in which he also tosses welfare benefits,” Ellis wrote. “Needless to say, it’s complete garbage since he uses Rector’s discredited garbage study from 2006 (our ‘06 response attached).”
“Alex has done a tremendous job taking Rector--and all of Heritage--on re: direct immigration policy (also attaching his work in case you haven’t seen it),” Ellis continued. “This seems more naturally up your alley. Besides, I know you can bang this out in an hour J [sic]”.
Ellis added that she was almost certain she could get many in the mainstream media to push anything Tanner would say in response to DeMint. “Pretty sure I can get Roll Call coverage--poss [sic] other (also attaching Roll Call coverage of Alex’s work & ATR’s pile-on.),” she wrote. “Your thoughts?”
Tanner forwarded the email internally the next morning to Cato communications staffers Khristine Brooks and Chris Kennedy. “This is really Alex and not me, but you may want to coordinate with Peggy about getting him coverage,” Tanner wrote.
Early Friday afternoon, Brooks responded to Ellis on Tanner’s and Cato’s behalf, declining Ellis’s request for Tanner to attack DeMint. In the response, Brooks noted that Cato has rounded up several former Heritage Foundation staffers to attack DeMint and Robert Rector, the analyst who is currently conducting the research that will argue that immigration reform costs trillions in increased entitlement spending. “Peggy - thanks for your interest, but we already have a response strategy in place that includes not just Alex, but some former heritage staffers who know rector's work as well,” Brooks wrote.
Later, Nowrasteh wrote to indicate that he thought the Boston terror attacks could torpedo the Gang of Eight immigration bill. “Peggy, I’m meeting with Josh [Culling of ATR] later today about this and already sent him a memo pertaining to it,” Nowrasteh responded to Ellis at 2:53 p.m. “The Boston thing could derail this big time so I’m spending most of today on that. Sorry, gotta run and focus on that.”
None of the groups involved in any of these emails have responded to Breitbart News’ request for comment.