On Friday, the Center held our first inaugural fundraising banquet –the 2017 Ocean State Freedom Banquet. At the banquet, a capacity crowd of 200 people were on hand to hear the keynote address by Grover Norquist, famed DC anti-tax warrior and President of Americans for Tax Reform. Conservatives in Rhode Island should be encouraged by the great turnout and enthusiasm at our Freedom Banquet. With the left engaged in open warfare among Kennedy moderates and radical progressives, if the right can unify behind principled leadership, the failed status quo in our state can be defeated next year.
At the banquet, we awarded our first-ever Middendorf Pillar of Freedom Award to Warren Galkin and Robert Galkin, brothers, for their support of the Center, their prolific business career, and their enormously generous philanthropy to area nonprofits. The award is named in honor of Ambassador J. William Middendorf, former Secretary of the Navy and current Heritage Foundation board member, who was also in attendance, and who is perhaps Rhode Island’s greatest living defender of freedom.
We also recognized over a dozen aligned center-right coalition groups in attendance! I further challenged would-be state and federal officeholders to boldly oppose the progressive agenda and take leadership of the many conservative and libertarian grassroots organizations in the state.
Norquist, a close adviser to the President and Congress, spoke in detail about the substance and politics of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, President Trump’s proposed tax reform plan that is currently working its way through the US House and Senate. The event, held at the Providence Hilton Hotel, included multiple political VIPs in attendance: 11 bipartisan Senators and Representatives of the General Assembly, a sitting Mayor, current and former Republican party officials, and all announced and presumed GOP candidates for Governor and US Senator in 2018. With a growing coalition of principled champions of freedom, Rhode Islanders have reason to be hopeful again.