Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) lambasted anti-tax activist Grover Norquist on the House floor today, accusing the powerful conservative of corruption and having ties to terrorist organizations.
Wolf attacked Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, during a morning floor speech that raised eyebrows across the Capitol.
“My conscience has compelled me to come to the floor today to voice concerns I have with the influence Grover Norquist ... has on the political process in Washington,” Wolf said, adding that his concern is not with the Americans for Tax Reform’s work on taxes but instead “with the other individuals, groups and causes with whom Mr. Norquist is associated that have nothing to do with keeping taxes low.”
Wolf went on to list a litany of complaints against Norquist, from his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff — who Wolf said “essentially laundered money through ATR and Mr. Norquist knew it” — to his connections to Islamic charities and religious figures.
He accused Norquist of associating with Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2004 on charges related to his activities with nations and organizations tied to terrorism; and with Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty under a plea deal in 2006 to aiding associates of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad with nonviolent immigration needs.
“Simply put, I believe Mr. Norquist is connected with or has profited from a number of unsavory people and groups out of the mainstream,” Wolf said, adding that “Mr. Norquist has used the ATR ‘pledge’ as leverage to advance other issues many Americans would find inappropriate and, when taken as a whole, should give people pause.”
In an interview, Norquist dismissed Wolf’s attack, saying, “There’s no there there.”
Norquist alleged that Wolf’s attack stemmed from his efforts several years ago to create a commission to address the deficit and debt.
“Two years ago he lobbied me to support his legislation to set up a commission, like the Obama commission [or] the Simpson-Bowles commission” on deficit reduction, Norquist said. But Americans for Tax Reform opposed the plan, and Norquist said Wolf was unhappy because lawmakers refused to sign on because of his group’s position.
“He wanted to talk to me because a lot of Congressmen” had refused to back it because the panel did not include an explicit rejection of the possibility of raising taxes to reduce the debt.
Norquist rejected Wolf’s entreaties, saying that in both 1983 and 1991, conservatives agreed to leave tax cuts on the table as part of deficit talks and ended up not getting any significant spending cuts in return.
“We’ve done it his way twice, and we got the opposite of what he said would happen. And then we did it the Reagan Republican way” and got cuts, Norquist said.
“He’s not mad at me, he’s mad at Boehner, he’s mad at all the rest of the Republicans around him, minus five guys who haven’t signed the pledge,” Norquist said, referring to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
“I’m sorry he’s flustered. I’m sorry he’s mad. He’s embarrassed himself,” Norquist said, adding, “I assume it was written by a staffer unaware of the number of Muslims who live in his district. He doesn’t want to get into this gutter.”
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.