The Company Grimes Keeps

Photo of Phil Kerpen and Jim Martin
Phil Kerpen and Jim Martin
President, American Commitment; Chairman, 60 Plus Association
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      Phil Kerpen and Jim Martin

      Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a nationally syndicated columnist, a contributor to Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the book Democracy Denied. American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s commitment to free markets and individual freedom. Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their three children.

      James L. Martin joined the Marine Corps in 1953 at age 17 as the Korean “conflict” concluded and served on active duty until 1958. In 1955, his Battalion Commander awarded Jim a meritorious citation for “exemplary conduct and leadership qualities exhibited in the performance of duties.” In 1956 Sergeant Jim Martin began a two-year tour of duty as an elite Marine Security Guard at the American Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Jim entered the University of Florida in 1959 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism in 1962, where he received the William Randolph Hearst reporting award for creative writing. Jim came to Washington in 1962 where he covered Congress and the White House for two years during the Kennedy-Johnson administration as a newspaper reporter and radio/TV broadcaster for 3 dozen media outlets in the South. Jim served for six years as Chief of Staff to Congressman, then Senator, the late Edward J. Gurney (R-FL), 1964-69. He has helped to organize and direct several advocacy groups including the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) and the Public Service Research Council (PSRC) (Americans Against Union Control of Government), which opposes public sector compulsory unionism as a threat to elected representation.

      Now Mr. Martin serves as the Chairman of the 60 Plus Association, which has been called an “increasingly influential lobbying group for the elderly–often viewed as the conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons.”

      60 Plus is a hard hitting organization dedicated to protecting the tax rights of seniors, and to repealing the most confiscatory of all taxes–the inheritance or estate (death) tax. Jim Martin has been quoted as saying that while there are two certainties in life, taxes and death, now, thanks to the death tax, Jim adds a third certainty–taxes after death. 60 Plus presents a Benjamin Franklin Award to Members of Congress in both parties who sponsor legislation to abolish the third certainty, taxes after death. Original sponsors are Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ).

      60 Plus, founded in 1992, has grown to over 7.2 million citizen lobbyists nationally. 60 Plus is the only conservative senior citizens group to publish a Congressional Rating System, and routinely presents the non-partisan GUARDIAN OF SENIORS’ RIGHTS AWARD to federal and state elected officials, Republicans and Democrats — but focuses those awards generally to members of the U.S. Congress.

      Mr. Martin has also been a vocal critic of taxpayer subsidized political advocacy groups. In 1995, he testified four times before Congress on this volatile issue where he spotlighted the fact that more than 40 seniors’ organizations receive hundreds of millions of tax dollars and, as Jim puts it, “politick openly and blatantly with said dollars.” Jim correctly pointed out that this was “just the tip of the iceberg” and subsequent Congressional investigations substantiated the charge that there is at least a $39 billion dirty little secret’ in Washington, to wit your “tax dollars at work in all sorts of illegal ways and for political activities for which you may not be in agreement.”

      Mr. Martin is married to Mary Lou, and they have 7 children, 15 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.

From Lexington to Louisville, Paducah to Pikeville, and Hima to Hazard Alison Lundergan Grimes has gone to great lengths to portray herself to Kentuckians as a moderate Democrat willing to take on liberal special interests. It is ironic then that she was recently in Chicago being celebrated by an elite who’s who of liberal billionaires and political insiders. In fact, Grimes was a prime guest at the off-the record Democracy Alliance forum where she raised money not just for her own campaign, but also for a broad array of major liberal interest groups and Super PACs that she hopes will help propel her to the United States Senate, keeping it under the iron-fisted liberal control of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

To be sure, this was no confab of centrist or moderate political operatives.  Democracy Alliance is the most extreme of the liberal left. For example, Tom Steyer, the San Francisco hedge fund billionaire whose $100 million pledge stalled the Keystone XL pipeline – the same jobs program Grimes claims to support – was there. So was George Soros’s son Jonathan, who now takes the lead on that hedge fund billionaire’s political engagement, which has historically funneled literally billions of dollars to radical left-wing causes.

Other attendees have included other iconic liberals like Nancy Pelosi, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.

Why is a self-described moderate Democrat like Alison Lundergan Grimes welcomed by such a group? Because they know Democrats must pose as conservatives to win in states like Kentucky that overwhelmingly oppose the president’s liberal policies.  And to do so they need people like Grimes who, once elected, can be counted on to keep the reliably liberal and ruthlessly controlling Harry Reid in charge of the Senate to thwart any threats to President Obama’s agenda.

First Lady Michelle Obama made this clear at a fundraiser for Grimes in New York City last year. “Barack hasn’t done any of this alone,” she said in reference to the president’s policy agenda of stimulus, Obamacare, and other liberal priorities. “That all happened because of who we had in Congress.”

“And let’s not forget about that commonsense gun legislation,” Mrs. Obama continued, using president’s draconian proposed restrictions on lawful gun owners as an example.  “So it is critical that we elect Michelle Nunn, Alison Grimes, Natalie Tennant.”

The Grimes pitch to liberal Chicago donors is no doubt the same as Mrs. Obama’s pitch to New York donors: whenever her vote is really needed, Grimes will be called upon to rubber-stamp the president’s agenda, and she will oblige.

One Democracy Alliance member, Credo Action, has said the only Grimes vote they care about is the one keeping Reid in power. Although Credo has hired up lots of Obama campaign operatives for a huge national effort to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, they had no problem with Grimes claiming to support the pipeline. Indeed, the same day Grimes made her statement, Credo announced it would spend $500,000 dollars supporting her campaign. Asked about the pipeline, they said: “The most important vote for us is the vote cast for majority leader.”

Grimes is applauded in Chicago because everyone there knows what Credo knows: no matter what conservative-sounding promises she makes on the campaign trail, her race is really all about keeping liberals in charge of the United States Senate – and moving the country even further to the left.

“I anticipate the Democracy Alliance becoming both more progressive and more aggressive in the coming years,” said Erica Payne, one of the group’s founders. “That will disturb centrist Democrats.”