Our nation’s capitol is over-run with superannuated geeks, most of whom are Republican, but among these guys there is no greater nerd than Grover Norquist, right, head of Americans for Tax Refom, a group that promotes abolishing taxation and the government it funds.
Middle-aged, bearded and paunchy, Norquist is obsessed with an intense loathing of taxation in any form or amount. Not surprisingly, he has ascended during the Bush-Rove era to become one of the leading lights on the conservative Right – in part because of his efforts to strong-arm the city’s lobbying industry into hiring Republicans.
Word comes in today’s New York Times that Norquist and his anti-tax organization have been snared in the investigation of Jack Abramoff, the $750 per hour lobbyist who is accused of defrauding his clients – a roster that includes Indian tribes – and of illegally making gifts to members of Congress, including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
A Congressional committee investigating whether Mr. Abramoff defrauded Indian tribes has subpoenaed records from Mr. Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform, after he refused for six months to turn them over voluntarily.
As the investigation widened to include Norquist, it has also snared the Bush cabinet secretary mandated with giving corporate interests unfettered access to the natural resources of the United States:
The Justice Department is reviewing records of an advocacy group Mr. Norquist started with Gale A. Norton, now secretary of the interior, after reports that Mr. Abramoff instructed Indian tribes to give it $250,000.
Forcing native people to give money to a group whose mandate is the destruction of the land they revere is another prime example of the death of irony in these times.
If he did commit a crime, Norquist, like Abramoff and certainly Norton, will never face charges from the Bush Justice Department. These are the same folks, after all, whose non-investigation into the source of White House leaks that led to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame has produced no results after umpteen years.
Norquist has an interesting take on why he’s being investigated:
In interviews, Mr. Norquist dismissed any suggestion of wrongdoing on his part and said that the only reason he is “getting dragged into this” is because Senator John McCain, the head of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which is investigating Mr. Abramoff, holds a grudge against Mr. Norquist for campaigning for President Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries.
“McCain hates me,” he said.