Charlie Crist Bows To Grover

May 14, 2009 12:50 pm ET — Ari Rabin-Havt

Florida Governor Charlie Crist signs pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group tied to the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Grover Norquist's American's for Tax Reform announced:

"Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican running to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). The Pledge commits signers to 'oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses ... and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.'"

Before he hugs ATR too tightly, perhaps Governor Crist should be reminded that the group and Grover Norquist have been tied to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. According to the Associated Press, Jack Abramoff used Americans for Tax Reform as a conduit to transfer money Ralph Reed:

In Jack Abramoff's world, prominent Washington tax-cut advocate Grover Norquist was a godsend.

Moving money from a casino-operating Indian tribe to Ralph Reed, the Christian Coalition founder and professed gambling opponent, was a problem. Lobbyist Abramoff turned to his longtime friend Norquist, apparently to provide a buffer for Reed.

The result, according to evidence gathered by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, was that Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform became a conduit for more than a million dollars from the Mississippi Choctaw to Reed's operation, while Norquist, a close White House ally, took a cut.


Norquist's office says its tax-cut mission is the same as that of the Choctaws, who were bankrolling a grass-roots campaign by Reed's organization to block potential competitors.

In an e-mail to The Associated Press responding to earlier requests for comment, Americans for Tax Reform spokesman John Kartch said, "As the Choctaws have testified in open hearings before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, they have been regular, general contributors to ATR due to our commonality of policy goals."

Nell Rogers, a planner for the Choctaws, told the Senate that the arrangement was never intended as a contribution to support ATR's general anti-tax work.

Rogers said she understood from Abramoff that ATR was willing to serve as a conduit, provided it received a fee.

In an e-mail obtained by the committee, Abramoff told Reed that 'I need to give Grover something for helping, so the first transfer will be a bit lighter.'

Asked about Abramoff's e-mail, Kartch told the AP that Americans for Tax Reform has 'no way of knowing what Abramoff meant in any e-mail to any third party, particularly when testimony has shown that he misrepresented things - intentionally or unintentionally - in his e-mails.'

Relying on an e-mail by Abramoff, the Senate report said 'Norquist kept' $25,000 from each of two transfers from the Choctaw to Reed. The report provided evidence about four transfers for about $1.2 million in all.

Norquist is part of a large cast of characters in the scandal.

[emphasis added]