Grover Norquist is not stressed about Glenn Beck harboring suspicions that he’s a secret mole for the Muslim Brotherhood. But the NRA seems to be.
As reported last week, the Fox News host-turned-media mogul had noted conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney on his show to talk about the allegedly nefarious ways of Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. For more than a decade, Gaffney—who helms the benignly named Center for Security Policy—has peddled a host of big-if-true charges about the conservative anti-tax activist. Mainstream news outlets and organizations have rarely if ever given these theories any credence. But now, thanks to Beck, he seems to have gotten the powerful gun rights organization to take the charge that Norquist is actually a member of the Muslim Brotherhood seriously.
On his show, Beck said he was “concerned that [Norquist] is a very bad influence and a very bad man,” and said he would cancel his NRA membership if Norquist gets re-elected to the Second Amendment group’s board. On Friday the website for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action posted an item from Beck saying that the group would investigate Norquist’s alleged ties. The letter didn’t mention Norquist by name, but it’s obvious that’s who it’s about.
“Wayne assured me and asked me to convey to you, that he and the NRA are taking this very seriously,” wrote Beck. “They are beginning an open and transparent investigation into these alleged ties and relationships and will provide the results to me, my audience and NRA Members.”
By press time, the NRA hadn’t returned a follow-up call about the nature of this investigation. If it gets back to us, we’ll update this story.
A representative for Norquist said the NRA investigation is great news.
“This is wonderful,” emailed Americans for Tax Reform spokesman John Kartch. “The NRA would be the fourth national conservative group to investigate Gaffney’s charges, and the fourth group to point out that Gaffney’s conspiracy theory is without merit.”
Norquist also said he’s bullish about Beck eventually seeing the light.
“I’m not sure that Beck understands that he’s the fifty-seven hundredth person who’s been breathlessly presented this as if it was true,” he said. “Upon reflection, I think that that’s not where Beck is. He is not going to want to damage the NRA or the modern conservative movement on behalf of a fantasist.”
Gaffney has a long and remarkable history of slinging conspiratorial charges at Norquist, and it’s resulted in his being purged from most mainstream conservative venues and events. As Dave Weigel reported here in 2012, Gaffney was disinvited from the influential Weyrich Lunch meetings (weekly confabs on the Hill for conservative lawmakers, think tankers, and activists) after putting together an 8.5-hour documentary on Norquist’s supposed subversion. But Gaffney had been raising eyebrows even before that. Back in 2004, George Landrith of the conservative think tank Frontiers of Freedom wrote a letter to the host of the Weyrich Lunch bemoaning Gaffney’s intransigence.
He wrote that Gaffney told him Norquist was paying one of Landrith’s female employees to pretend to be his girlfriend in an effort to hide his alleged homosexuality. (Norquist has since married a woman.) Here’s the whole letter.
I emailed Gaffney’s representative and asked if he had charged that Norquist is secretly gay and had paid a woman to pretend to be his girlfriend. Through his spokesman, he emailed back that this question was “a transparent deflection from a really newsworthy story” regarding Norquist’s supposed Islamist ties. Gaffney also said that he has investigated only Norquist’s professional life, and not his personal life, but did not specifically deny the claims in the 2004 letter.
Gaffney has floated creative theories on many subjects other than Norquist, including that a redesign of the Missile Defense Agency logo had a secret image of a crescent as an “act of submission to Shariah.” He also wrote in the Washington Times in 2008 that “[t]here is evidence Mr. Obama was born in Kenya rather than, as he claims, Hawaii.”
The fact that Gaffney is touting curious theories is not news. The fact, however, that the country’s most influential gun rights organization appears to be taking those theories seriously is an interesting little development.