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Gilmore to lead conservative group

Anita Kumar

Former governor Jim Gilmore (R) announced in a fundraising letter this week that he has been elected president and chief executive officer of the conservative Free Congress Foundation in Washington.

You may recognize Free Congress Foundation as the group founded by Paul Weyrich, the conservative activist who helped revive a once struggling Republican Party. Weyrich died in 2008 and the group has been searching for a leader.

A 2008 Post article about Weyrich's death said the Free Congress Foundation "virtually invented the use of grass-roots direct-mail fundraising campaigns for conservative politicians and social causes."

"There's no doubt that we need to aggressively respond to the liberal agenda currently dominating the political debate in our country. The Free Congress Foundation will do that,'' Gilmore wrote in his letter. "But it's not enough to focus solely on what we are against. It's not enough to say that government-run health care, cap-and-trade policies and higher taxes and deficits are the wrong approaches. We need to advocate a positive, conservative agenda that will expand freedom, protect our culture, and defend our country from terrorism and other threats."

Read Gilmore's full letter below:

December 27, 2009

An important message to members of the Patriots Committee and Friends

I hope you are enjoying the holidays with friends and family. Roxane, the boys, and I spent Christmas and the holidays at our home in Richmond. We were able to gather four generations of our family on Christmas Eve to celebrate our blessings and reflect on this special time of year.

I wanted to send you a message today to announce that the Board of Directors of the Free Congress Foundation has elected me to lead the organization as its new president and CEO. As you may know, the Free Congress Foundation is a well-established conservative policy organization in our nation's capital. The late Paul Weyrich, a good friend and historic figure in the conservative movement, founded the organization more than three decades ago to counter the liberal lurch of Congress during that time period. No one can fill Paul's shoes, but I do hope to continue along the same conservative path he followed.

You may be wondering why at this moment I would take on this new role. Importantly, I've been honored to serve on the Free Congress Foundation's board for several years and have great respect for the organization, its leadership and its historic contribution to the advancement of the conservative movement. I also believe that there is a real need and demand in the country right now for an organization that advances conservative solutions to the problems facing everyday Americans in a bipartisan fashion.

Why do I believe this? It's clear that the American people are rejecting the liberal policies that are currently coming out of Washington and some state capitals, whether it's government-run health care, cap-and-trade policies, or higher taxes and deficits that threaten our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity. But that doesn't mean that people don't want health care or energy and the environment or the economy addressed. They do. They just want responsible and effective solutions that empower them and their communities, not irresponsible and ineffective policies that expand the federal bureaucracy in Washington.

How can we do this? There's no doubt that we need to aggressively respond to the liberal agenda currently dominating the political debate in our country. The Free Congress Foundation will do that. But it's not enough to focus solely on what we are against. It's not enough to say that government-run health care, cap-and-trade policies and higher taxes and deficits are the wrong approaches. We need to advocate a positive, conservative agenda that will expand freedom, protect our culture, and defend our country from terrorism and other threats.

At the Free Congress Foundation, our goal will also go beyond solely moving the debate in the right direction. We need to move the country in the right direction. We need to put in place concrete steps that strengthen the capacity of everyday people to improve their own lives and the prospects for their communities and our country. In order to do that, we need an approach that appeals not just to Republicans, but also to Independents and even like-minded Democrats. This is in the tradition of the Free Congress Foundation. It is also something that I firmly believe the American people want. They want political leaders who can have a civil discussion and work together where they agree, regardless of whether they have a "R" or "D" next to their names. I believe we can do this while holding tight to our conservative principles.

Now you might find such an approach surprising coming from someone who so proudly served as chairman of the Republican National Committee and worked so hard to build historic Republican majorities in the Virginia General Assembly in the late 1990s. But I've also seen the benefit of working across party lines, having won bipartisan support for the historic car tax cut in Virginia and having led two bipartisan federal commissions to propose solutions to the problems of Internet taxation and defending our homeland against terrorist attack. I want to bring this experience to bear at the Free Congress Foundation.

I know you may have contributed to the Patriots' Committee in the past. I want to thank you for that. The work we've done together is a credit to your enthusiasm and support. The Patriots' Committee should and will continue to support good conservative candidates across the Commonwealth and the country.

Today, however, I am asking you to support through a financial contribution the Free Congress Foundation. I need your help to help reinvigorate the Foundation's efforts to develop conservative solutions to the problems we face. We must, as conservatives, propose solutions and positive alternatives to the problems of health care, energy and the environment, and the economy. We must continue the Free Congress Foundation's traditional efforts to protect and advance our American values and culture. And we should seek support from all parts of our communities without regard to partisan political affiliation.

The Free Congress Foundation has an established headquarters in our nation's capital and a good and loyal staff. More policy experts, however, will need to be engaged. I am asking you to contribute today by going to our web site: http://www.freecongress.org and find the "donate" button. You can also support us by writing a check and sending it to our headquarters at 1423 Powhatan Street #2, Alexandria, VA 22314. Our goals are significant, so our budget needs are likewise significant. Many of you will make charitable contributions before the end of this calendar year. Your contribution to the Free Congress Foundation is tax deductable. I am asking you to do all that you can.

Thank you for all the support you have given me in the past. I'm very excited about this new opportunity and what we can do together for the good of the conservative movement and, ultimately, for the country. As we look to the New Year and beyond, I assure you that better days are indeed ahead.

Sincerely,

James S. Gilmore

By Anita Kumar  |  December 29, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , James Gilmore III  
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