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Friday, June 23, 2006

TPMmuckraker - Grover Faces Ruin, But No Jail Time

TPMmuckraker June 23, 2006 05:36 PM: "By Paul Kiel - June 23, 2006, 5:36 PM

As I mentioned yesterday, Grover Norquist, the cold-blooded anti-tax bogeyman of the right, got hit hard yesterday in the McCain report.

It's now clear to anyone who's paid attention that Norquist used his non-profit, Americans for Tax Reform, as a money-washing business and lobbying firm. He took a 'management fee' for laundering gaming money through to Ralph Reed. He has a long list of corporate donors that seek his help; and like any other lobbyist, his advocacy is for sale -- even to Democrats.

So what? Is there even a chance that he's going to jail?

I called up Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor and the Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Her group filed a IRS complaint against ATR back in March.

The answer, it turns out, is no. The worst that could happen to Norquist, according to Sloan, would be for the IRS to crack down on ATR. His group would lose its 501(c)3 status. That would result in hefty fines, and his donors would be mighty upset, since their contributions would suddenly become taxable. One of the pillars of the modern conservative movement would be disgraced. Pretty bad. But there's not really a criminal case to make against Norquist. No jail time.

The same, it seems, would go for Ralph Reed, who's been publicly and indisputably exposed as a calculating hypocrite. But that might be his only penalty. If so, he's really on trial right now down in Georgia, where he's running for lieutenant governor."


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