Commentary Magazine


Norquist Now Giving Fundraising Advice to Top Democratic Donors? UPDATE: Norquist responds

This is one story that seemed hard to believe at first. But the left-leaning Democracy Alliance confirmed to me that Grover Norquist did in fact speak at its invite-only conference for top Democratic donors last night. Norquist was reportedly there to advise influential progressives — including an adviser to George Soros — about how to create a successful political organizing strategy.

The L.A. Times first reported the story:

Reporting from Washington– The Democratic Party’s wealthiest donors, mindful of the overwhelming cash advantage conservative groups have in next year’s elections, gather behind closed doors in Washington this week to make plans for dealing with the coming “tsunami” of right-leaning money and electoral enthusiasm.

The donors — including an adviser to investor George Soros and San Francisco-based philanthropist Rob McKay — will hear from Vice President Joe Biden and from one of the movement’s most influential strategists, Rob Stein, who urges a strategy of state-based organizing. The donors will even get a lesson in building a movement from one of the most influential organizers on the right, Grover Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform.

The Democracy Alliance, whose board is comprised of some of the most influential and well-known left-wing fundraisers, describes its goals as the following: “We play a leadership role in building the movement infrastructure needed to execute and advance a progressive agenda. Our network helps form a more integrated and cohesive progressive community creating greater impact as a result of our collaborative giving strategy.”

Norquist does lean left on a lot of issues outside of tax cuts, most notably foreign policy and social issues. But why would he agree to advise some of the most powerful Democratic donors on how to counter the conservative movement’s fundraising and organization strategy? I posed the same question to his office, and I’m waiting to hear back. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Norquist’s spokesperson emailed to say Norquist attended the conference, but did not give political advice. Here’s his description of what took place:

No.  At one point Grover joined David Brock in a mock radio interview on the tax pledge.  Grover then took questions from Brock’s liberal donors that Grover described as “bloodless bear baiting”.

Grover didn’t do any advising of any kind. It was just the usual argument with liberals.