ATR's Norquist Suggests ATR Wastes Donor Money

June 21, 2011 12:47 pm ET — Jamison Foser

Grover Norquist

Roll Call's report on the difficulties facing Washington lobbyists features Grover Norquist, one of the nation's most famous lobbyists, saying the practice has become futile:

"It used to be that elections were interesting and then you go and lobby the people that got elected," says Grover Norquist, president of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform. "But now because the two parties each have more cohesion in terms of their policies and principles, now the key question is elections."

Norquist contends it's essentially a waste of time to trudge up to Capitol Hill to lobby on such matters as tax policy because most senators and House members have made up their minds irreversibly — and did so before they were first sworn in. "It really has moved 'lobbying' out into the districts because that's where you talk to people. That's where you elect people," he says.

Americans for Tax Reform was so fond of that passage, the organization posted it in its "Daily Media Spotlight," not far below a big red "Donate" button. Clicking on that button takes ATR visitors to a page noting that "Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) [is] a 501(c)4 nonprofit lobbying organization."

Wait, what? Americans for Tax Reform is a lobbying organization?

Indeed, it is — and ATR spent nearly a million dollars lobbying last year. More than a million each of the three previous years. And a whopping $1.5 million in each of 2004, 2005, and 2006. So far this year, ATR has disclosed lobbying on more than 40 bills. (Norquist himself is one of Americans for Tax Reform's seven lobbyists.)

Norquist might think it's a waste of time to trudge up to Capitol Hill to lobby — but he happily solicits contributions so he can spend a million dollars a year of donors' money doing it:

Americans for Tax Reform relies solely on contributions from taxpayers who believe in our mission of a single rate tax and a smaller, more accountable government.

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