Dateline 2.10.09 by AzBlueMeanie
(War correspondent AzBlueMeanie is embedded with the Freedom Fighters of the Arizona Democratic Resistance in the occupied state of Arizona. This dispatch is filed from an undisclosed location within the liberated territories of Baja Arizona)
All officers and employees of the state of Arizona are required to take a loyalty oath of office (A.R.S. Section 38-231(E)):
I, _____________________ (name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of ______________________ (name of office) according to the best of my ability, so help me God (or so I do affirm).
But many of our Republican state legislators recently took their oath of office with their fingers crossed behind their backs. You see, they had already sworn an oath to something far more near and dear to their hearts than either the Constitution of their state or their country – they swore an oath to a political and economic ideology.
Many of our Arizona Republican politicians have taken the Taxpayer Protection Pledge promoted by Americans for Tax Reform, solemnly binding themselves to this pledge:
I, ____________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _____ district of the State of _________ and to all the people of this state, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.
That's right, a pledge to a simplistic solution for simple minds: just say no to taxes. No need to bother knowing or understanding anything about economics or fiscal policy. No need to consider the best interests of the citizens of Arizona or fiscal responsibility. Just say it loud and say it proud – "no new taxes!" It's no wonder why the Arizona legislature has so many members entirely ignorant of economics.
Since its inception with the endorsement of President Reagan in 1986, the pledge has become de rigeur for Republicans seeking office.
Grover Norquist is the leader of this anti-tax and anti-government movement. Norquist is best known for his desire "to reduce government to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub."
Of course, any politician who has sworn allegiance to an ideology which desires the destruction of government has no interest in making government more cost effective or making government work more efficiently and effectively. Their only desire is to destroy government, and Arizona Republicans are well on their way to succeeding. These are dangerous people who have no business being anywhere near the levers of power in government.
Ask yourself what would happen to a Democratic politician who publicly swore allegiance to an individual and an ideology committed to the destruction of government. The media would brand them "treasonous" and a "traitor" in a 24/7 media frenzy until the public was moved to violence and stoned the politician to death.
Republican politicians routinely swear allegiance to a man and an ideology committed to the destruction of government, but the media barely manages a yawn. Republicans are so emboldened by this lack of public outrage over their sabotage of government that they proudly display their names on the web site of Americans for Tax Reform.
In another place and time Grover Norquist and his acolytes would be on the FBI watch list of subversive political organizations. Norquist's stated desire to destroy the government would be viewed (correctly) as sedition and insurrection against the government. But his subversive ideology has managed to infiltrate and infect the Republican Party, one of America's two major political parties. His acolytes have clothed themselves in the legitimacy and respectability of a major political party. So the media reports their every pronouncement as legitimate, credible and reasonable (even when they know it is not) in a misguided attempt to be "fair and balanced" in political coverage of the two major political parties.
This is how subversive organizations succeed, by coopting another established organization. It is comparable to a malignant cancer that metastasizes and destroys its host.
So who are the Arizona Republicans who have sworn their allegiance to this political and economic ideology?
Sen. John McCain
Sen. Jon Kyl
Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-2)
Rep. John Shadegg (AZ-3)
Rep. Jeff Flake (AZ-6)
State Treasurer Dean Martin
Sen. Bob Burns (LD-9)
Sen. Pamela Gorman (LD-6)
Sen. Ron Gould (LD-3)
Sen. Linda Gray (LD-10)
Sen. Jack Harper (LD-4)
Sen. John Huppenthal (LD-20)
Sen. Barbara Leff (LD-11) (Taxpayer Protection Caucus Chair)
Sen. Jay Tibshraeny (LD-21)
Sen. Thayer Verschoor (LD-22)
Rep. Kirk Adams (LD-19)
Rep. Frank Antenori (LD-30)
Rep. Ray Barnes (LD-7)
Rep. Nancy K. Barto (LD-7)
Rep. Andy Biggs (LD-22)
Rep.Tom Boone (LD-4)
Rep. Judy Burges (LD-4)
Rep. Sam Crump (LD-6)
Rep. Adam Driggs (LD-11)
Rep. David Gowan (LD-30)
Rep. John Kavanagh (LD-8)
Rep. Bill Konopnicki (LD-5)
Rep. Debbie Lesko (LD-9)
Rep. Steve Montenegro (LD-12)
Rep. Rick Murphy (LD-9)
Rep. Warde V. Nichols (LD-21)
Rep. David Stevens (LD-25)
Rep. Andrew M. Tobin (LD-1)
Rep. Jerry Weiers (LD-12)
Rep. Jim Weiers (LD-10)
Rep. Steve Yarbrough (LD-21)
And who is the man to whom these Arizona Republicans have sworn their allegiance? Grover Norquist is a former Republican Party operative and is a corrupt K-Street lobbyist embroiled in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Here is a brief synopsis from SourceWatch:
Americans for Tax Reform and Jack Abramoff are connected through Grover Norquist, the "[g]uru of the anti-tax, neo-con movement, best known for his desire to reduce government to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub," Geov Parrish reported December 12, 2005, in Working for Change.
History of the relationship between Norquist and Abramoff
"Norquist," Parrish wrote, "met Abramoff through the College Republicans in the early '80s; he managed Abramoff's successful campaign to become chair of that group. Norquist co-authored Newt Gingrich's 1994 'Contract with America', and gained influence as a close ally of Gingrich. He worked with Abramoff to lobby for the Northern Mariannas Islands sweatshops."
The backround of the questionable funneling of money
Ralph E. Reed, Jr. and Norquist are "implicated in the questionable funneling by Abramoff of more than $4 million of Preston Gates Ellis Native American client funds to back antigambling campaigns run by Reed from 1999 to 2003," Parrish wrote. "In one case involving funds from an Indian casino client, as much as $1.3 million in client funds may have been used to launch a campaign.
Involvement of Americans for Tax Reform
At least some of the Preston Gates money was allegedly laundered through Norquist's anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform, which took a cut. The point was for Abramoff's Native American casino clients to pay for campaigns that would shut out potential competition from state lotteries or new casinos. Americans for Tax Reform also laundered Reed money from Abramoff client eLottery to help defeat the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act in 2000.
"Norquist accompanied Abramoff, Ralph Reed, General Services Administration head David Safavian, and Ohio Rep. Robert Ney on a 2002 golf trip to Scotland in which Abramoff allegedly illegally picked up the costs for Ney and for Safavian, a former Norquist business partner in the firm Janus Merritt Strategies.
Congressman Robert Ney was later convicted and sentenced to prison. The Abramoff investigation is ongoing and may yet snare all of the above corrupt individuals.
I will address how Norquist's ideological extremist "no tax" pledge lies at the heart of Arizona's current financial crisis in a later report.