On Tuesday, July 12, 2016, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation joined the American Legislative Exchange Council and 20 other free-market public policy organizations in a letter to U.S. Senate Democrats after internal emails revealed that 19 U.S. Senate Democrats planned a coordinated attack to intimidate and silence conservative and free market groups. The letter is reprinted below. [Download the Coalition Letter Here]
July 12, 2016
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Senator Al Franken (D-MN)
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE)
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Senator Edward Markey (D-MA)
Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)
We, the undersigned, have long since known that you have a list—an enemies list of intellectual foes you wish to isolate. But our policy differences are not why we write. We write today with grave concern over political leadership in a time of deep national division. We write at a time when free speech and association are more important than ever in our national experiment. How will we, together, solve problems if we cannot speak? How can you lead when you refuse to listen?
You were elected by the people to build consensus and find compromise—to fiercely debate the most pressing issues of our day. Often, these debates are meant to be contentious and without a clear solution because innovation comes from great challenge. Sadly, our democracy and our freedom hangs in the balance as you use your office to bully and single out groups to blame rather than ideas to debate.
Just as you do, our civil society organizations represent many, many millions of Americans and a wide array of perspectives and interests. They deserve and increasingly demand healthy and respectful political dialogue, and well-informed, well-debated public policies. To support the debate our founders intended, all Americans have the right to support causes they believe in without fear of threats from overzealous government officials—threats paraded and perpetrated by you on the Senate floor.
The delicate balance of our democracy is preserved when all groups are free to speak in the public square, and ALL Americans should be concerned when agents of the government use their official offices to marginalize political foes.
Your enemies list groups together organizations that themselves maintain differing perspectives. While you have singled us out, labeling us as the enemy, we don’t even always agree with one another. And that’s the point: disagreement breeds solutions.
We hear you. Your threat is clear: There is a heavy and inconvenient cost to disagreeing with you. Calls for debate will be met with political retribution. That’s called tyranny. And, we reject it.
At the birth of our nation, patriots asserted their right to speech and broke British law in doing so. King George used the full force of the British crown to suppress the rebellion—to suppress speech. In spite of the tyrant’s commands and because they had put their lives on the line to defend their rights, the patriots enshrined free speech in our founding documents; the same documents that gave you your job.
In a country where you should be the patriots leading us into a great future, sadly today you are the tyrants.
Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
Lisa B. Nelson, American Legislative Exchange Council
John A. Charles, Jr., Cascade Policy Institute
David Rothbard, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
Kent Lassman, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Nicole Neily, Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
Benita Dodd, Georgia Public Policy Foundation
Bridgett Wagner, The Heritage Foundation
Fred Birnbaum, Idaho Freedom Foundation
Joseph Bast, The Heartland Institute
Robert McClure III, James Madison Institute
Brett Healy, The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy
Kory Swanson, John Locke Foundation
Dave Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute
Jason Hayes, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Brent Mead, Montana Policy Institute
Sharon J. Rossie, Nevada Policy Research Institute
Sally Pipes, Pacific Research Institute
Kevin Kane, Pelican Institute for Public Policy
Paul J. Gessing, Rio Grande Foundation
Lynn Taylor, Virginia Institute for Public Policy
Carol Platt Liebau, Yankee Institute for Public Policy