Legend has it that ancient Rome was spared a devastating invasion by the courage and skill of a great warrior named Horatius, whose singlehanded defense of a bridge kept the enemy hordes at bay. From time to time, a contemporary figure exhibits similar heroic qualities, earning this column’s “Horatius at the Bridge” award. With his “statement of conscience” on the floor of the House of Representatives last week, Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) has become the latest recipient of that distinction.
On October 4, Rep. Wolf summarized in five-minutes a long insert he placed that day in the Congressional Record. The immediate impetus for this address was the sixteen-term legislator’s concern about Washington’s current inability to have a constructive conversation about tax reform. The Congressman made clear that he was not in favor of raising taxes but warned that, “We sit here today shackled in ideological gridlock. Some insist that any discussion of tax policy is off the table. Others reject any change in entitlement programs…. Powerful special interests continue to hold this institution hostage and undermine every good faith effort to change course.”
After noting the role played by such Democratic special interests as MoveOn.org, Mr. Wolf observed that “On the Republican side, Grover Norquist holds up the Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge to block even the mention of putting tax reform on the table for discussion as part of a deficit reduction agreement.” Then, the congressman asked:
Have we really reached a point where one person’s demand for ideological purity is paralyzing Congress to the point that even a discussion of tax reform is viewed as breaking a no-tax pledge? It is curious that Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, yet his purist pledge has no mention of working to reform the tax code to make it simpler and fairer to average American taxpayers.
Horatius Wolf then added:
Numerous federal investigations, reports and public documents point to Grover Norquist using his network of organizations– Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), his former and now defunct lobbying firm Janus-Merritt Strategies, and the Islamic Free Market Institute– in questionable ways, raising money in business activities with people who have been in serious criminal trouble…. My concern arises when the appearances of impropriety are raised over and over again with a person who has such influence over public policy. That, I believe, should give any fair-minded person pause.
The Congressman proceeded to give examples of Norquist’s troubling associations and agendas. These include: deep involvement with convicted felon Jack Abramoff and a record of ignoring congressional subpoenas concerning same; lobbying on behalf of the very mortgage lending practices at Fannie Mae that helped crater thehousing market and economy; promoting the proliferation of internet gambling and casinos; and taking $4.3 million from trial lawyer-turned-convicted felon Dickie Scruggs.
What makes Frank Wolf’s bill of particulars heroic, however, is not just his taking on a prominent and influential Republican operative. It is the documentation of the parts of Norquist’s advocacy and activities that are inimical to the national security. These include:
- Norquist’s ties to Muslim Brotherhood operatives, including three who were also convicted of felonies – terrorist financier Abdurahman Alamoudi, Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami al-Arian and Islamist activist Mahdi Bray – and Alamoudi’s longtime deputy Khalid Saffuri. Saffuri became the executive director of a Brotherhood front, the Islamic Free Market Institute, started with funding from Alamoudi; its founding chairman was Grover Norquist.
- Norquist’s efforts to block the government’s occasional discreet use of classified information indeportation and other terrorism-related proceedings. For his efforts, Norquist which received in July 2001 an award from a group of radical leftists and Islamists, the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedoms, led at the time by none other than Sami al-Arian.
- Norquist’s close collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union, and other leftist and Islamist organizations, to repeal or dismantle the Patriot Act. Norquist has joined them as well in championing the closure of Guantanamo Bay, the relocation of its detainees to the United States, civilian trials for the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero.
It took considerable courage for Frank Wolf to lay out this bill of particulars. While the factual basis for much of his statement has been known for years, until now, no prominent official of the U.S. government has been willing publicly to address – let alone criticize – such behavior and its ominous implications for the conservative movement, the Republican Party and the nation.
Congressman Wolf is correct in his warning about the insidious nature of Grover Norquist’s various problematic associations and agendas. It is past time that Americans of every political persuasion and affiliation in every city, community and region in this country join him in standing up to Norquist. The alternative is to allow Norquist associates and their influence operations to continue to infiltrate, divide and, inevitably, weaken our country and cause.
Frank Wolf is standing up for the rest of us against such a prospect like a true Horatius at the bridge. Now, we must stand with him.