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Written by: Lisa Sylvester
Posted: July 14, 2011
At the heart of the contentious talks between the White House and congressional Republicans on whether to raise the debt ceiling is a simple, one-sentence document many conservative lawmakers have signed, pledging not to increase taxes.
“I _____ pledge to the taxpayers of the state of _____ and all the people of this state, that I will oppose and vote against all efforts to increase taxes,” reads the version of the pledge signed by Republican lawmakers.
The driving force behind that pledge — and perhaps the most powerful man in Washington that you’ve never heard about — is a bearded, unassuming conservative activist who has never been elected to a public office.
Grover Norquist, president and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, is both respected and feared in the inner circles of Washington.
He has worked under Ronald Reagan, is close friends with Karl Rove and has been connected to scandals involving onetime Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
His group, funded through both individual donations and major corporate dollars, has the grass-roots power — and has used it — to raise money, run TV ads and campaign against politicians who violate that pledge. He proudly points to trophies of those who have been brought down, defeated in subsequent elections after voting to raise taxes.