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More Than 13,000 Letters Delivered To "Gridlock Grover" Norquist; Pledge Signers Questioned About Current Support For Norquist’s Pledge

CAC President Doug Kendall: “It should be a total no-brainer for Members of Congress – and even Grover Norquist himself – to simply declare that the Constitution comes first.”

                WASHINGTON –  Today, after months of criticism by Members of the House and Senate from both parties about the undue influence that tax lobbyist Grover Norquist is having over the debt ceiling and the Super-Committee – and less than a week until the Super-Committee reaches its November 23 deadline –  Constitutional Accountability Center delivered messages from more than 13,000 people across America, calling on Norquist to affirm that the Constitution trumps his Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) pledge.  In addition, CAC sent a letter to the Chief of Staff for every Member of Congress listed as signers of the Norquist pledge in the 112th Congress, asking if they believe they are still bound by the ATR pledge, and if they believe the oath they swore to the U.S. Constitution trumps Norquist’s pledge, and any other special interest pledge.

                CAC President Doug Kendall said, “It should be a total no-brainer for Members of Congress – and even Grover Norquist himself – to simply declare that the Constitution comes first.” Kendall continued, “Some Norquist pledge signers have already seen the light and that’s a good start. But it isn’t nearly enough. If America’s elected officials can't make a simple declaration that the Constitution trumps an unelected tax lobbyist, then the Republic itself is in jeopardy.”

Packed into canvas mail bags, the letters of 13,256 people from every section of America who had signed a message to “Gridlock Grover” Norquist as of yesterday at www.gridlockgrover.com, were hand-delivered this morning to the Washington, DC offices of Americans for Tax Reform. A photo of the letters inside the ATR office is here: http://theusconstitution.org/blog.history/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/gridlockgrover-mail.jpg

                In CAC’s letter to the Chiefs of Staff of every Member of Congress listed on Norquist’s roster of 112th Congress pledge signers, CAC asked these two questions:

(1) Do you currently feel bound by the anti-tax pledge held and enforced by Grover Norquist's organization, Americans for Tax Reform?

(2) Do you believe that your Oath of Office to support the Constitution trumps Mr. Norquist's pledge and any other special interest pledge?

CAC expects to release the results of this survey to the public, and also welcomes the efforts of citizens and the media to further question Members as to where they currently stand on the Norquist pledge.

                Elected officials across the ideological spectrum have affirmed their oath to the Constitution over the Norquist pledge, including Oklahoma GOP U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, Idaho GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, and New Jersey Democratic U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews.  As President Obama made clear in September, “the last time I checked, the only pledge that really matters is the pledge we take to uphold the Constitution.”

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Resources:

* Video: CAC delivers more than 13,000 letters to "Gridlock Grover" Norquist:

*  CAC President Doug Kendall, “Questions for ‘Gridlock Grover’ Norquist and His Shrinking Flock,” Huffington Post, November 17, 2011: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/doug-kendall/questions-for-gridlock-gr_b_1099593.html

*  CAC President Doug Kendall, “Blame Norquist, not Founders,” POLITICO, October 22, 2011: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/66626.html

*  Norquist pledge signer roster, 112th Congress: http://s3.amazonaws.com/atrfiles/files/files/Federal%20Pledge%20Signers%20112th%20Congress.pdf

*  Text of message to Norquist, with over 13,000 signatures, also available at www.gridlockgrover.com:

Dear Mr. Norquist:

We are writing to urge you to affirm that every public official in the United States should put his or her constitutional oath to serve the interests of "We the People" over any pledge to a special interest, including your no-tax pledge.

 Over the past several months, politicians across the political spectrum have argued that your demand for ideological purity and your strong-arm enforcement tactics are paralyzing Congress and preventing Congress from solving the problems of the American people.

 Whatever our policy disagreements, we should all recognize that public servants must put their oath to support the Constitution over any special interest pledge.

 Join us in urging public officials to put their oath to the Constitution first.

 

*  Text of message sent by email to all Congressional offices listed as Norquist pledge signers in the 112th Congress:

SUBJECT: Do Special Interest Pledges Trump the Constitution?                                                                          

Dear _________,

I am writing to inquire whether Senator/Representative ________ puts the constitutional oath to serve “We the People” over special interest pledges.

Over the past several months, with the debt ceiling crisis and now the debate over the work of the Super-Committee, there has been growing public concern about the outsized role that special interests -- and in particular Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge -- appear to be playing in preventing members of Congress from coming together and reaching an agreement that could make America solvent and get Americans back to work.

In response to this public concern, Members of Congress from both political parties have declared their independence from special interest pledges, either by saying that a pledge signed as part of an election campaign long ago is no longer binding upon them or by recognizing that their oath of office to support the U.S. Constitution is paramount over any special interest pledge. 

I run an organization called Constitutional Accountability Center. Given our name, you will not be surprised that it is our position that every public official's oath to support the Constitution and serve "We the People" must trump any commitment made to any special interest.  Given the questions raised about the propriety of special interest pledges and, in particular, the questions raised recently by Members of Congress about whether Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is accurately listing Members as currently bound by the ATR pledge, we ask that you provide yes or no answers to the following two questions on behalf of Senator/Representative ___________:

 

Do you currently feel bound by the anti-tax pledge held and enforced by Grover Norquist’s organization, Americans for Tax Reform?

 

Do you believe that your Oath of Office to support the Constitution trumps the ATR pledge and any other special interest pledge?

 

Answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated.  Please send responses to this email address. 

 

Thank you for your time,

 

Doug Kendall

Founder and President

Constitutional Accountability Center

*  Oklahoma GOP U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (4/24/2011): “Which pledge is most important ... the pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States or a pledge from a special interest group who claims to speak for all American conservatives when, in fact, they really don't?” http://www.politico.com/blogs/politicolive/0411/Coburn_takes_on_Norquist.html

*  Idaho GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (11/03/2011):  “The only pledge I take anymore is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. That's the pledge every member takes when he gets sworn in and that's the pledge you oughtta be concerned about.”  http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2011/11/03/idahopolitics/idahos_simpson_warns_if_deficit_reform_fails_theres_going_be_hel

*  New Jersey Democratic U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (11/15/2011): "[Via Twitter] @GroverNorquist wants us 2read fine print. I say - read the Constitution! lets uphold the national interest, not his agenda." http://articles.philly.com/2011-11-15/news/30401764_1_pledge-grover-norquist-antitax-groups/2

*  President Barack Obama (9/19/2011):  “Anybody who says we can’t change the tax code to correct that, anyone who has signed some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out…. They ought to have to answer for it.  And if they’re pledged to keep that kind of unfairness in place, they should remember, the last time I checked the only pledge that really matters is the pledge we take to uphold the Constitution.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/09/19/remarks-president-economic-growth-and-deficit-reduction

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Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution's text and history.

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