Ralph Reed is a truly unique American success story, perhaps about to become an American tragedy. From modest roots he rose to be one of the countrys most influential politicians never to hold office, via his stewardship of the Christian Coalition, which in the early to mid-nineties boasted some 1.2 million members. His role in mobilizing that base to effect the 1994 Republican take-over of Congress is largely uncredited, but remains one of the most significant events of the last quarter of the twentieth century in American politics. Now on the brink of establishing a beachhead in politics proper, his prior shady dealings and no-holds-barred, combative campaign style have returned to haunt him, seemingly swamping his campaign just as he is nearing his goal of the Lieutenant-Governorship of Georgia, a springboard to bigger things.
Reed was born 24 June 1961 in Portsmouth, Virginia. Reeds family moved frequently throughout the south in his youth; he spent most of his early years in Florida, but graduated from a Georgia High School in 1979, and claims that state as his current residence, returning to what he terms his roots after almost two decades in Washington DC and its environs.
An early plagiarism scandal at the University of Georgia is revealing, not so much of Ralphs shortcomings as a writer, but for his reaction to the charges. While admitting their merit, he claimed the accusations were motivated by personal antipathy on the part of the student who exposed him.
In 1981 Reeds friendship with noted, now infamous, GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff began when he moved to DC to intern for him as Chairman of the College Republican National Committee (CRNC). The third member of what would become known as the triumvirate, Grover Norquist, would also go on to national fame and influence. Between them, the triumvirate covered the bases of GOP power. Norquist focused on conservative think tank work and amending tax policy; Abramoff on corporate lobbying and peddling congressional influence; and Reed on motivating and organizing the GOPs most populous voter bloc, the Religious Right.
Reeds experience with the CRNC also whetted his appetite for voter fraud; in 1983 he was accused of rigging the election for president of the University of Georgia College Republicans, picking political ally Sam Harbren as his successor, an allegation Harbren later admitted.
Also in 1983, Reed had a religious conversion experience at a most improbable localeBullfeathers Bar in Washington DC. Reed relates that the Holy Spirit simply demanded me to come to Jesus. Reed left the bar, thumbed up the church listings in the yellow pages of the phone booth on the corner, and the next morning visited an Assemblies of God Church in Camp Springs, Maryland, where he shortly became a born-again Christian. In 1984 he formed Students for America in North Carolina, a conservative activist group focused on the re-election of Senator Jesse Helms and anti-abortion protest. In 1985 he was arrested after bursting into the waiting room of an abortion clinic in Raleigh; the groups tactics included staging mock baby funerals outside the facility and aggressive verbal confrontation with patients entering the building.
Reeds political rise began in earnest in 1989, following televangelist Pat Robertsons failed 1988 bid to capture the GOP presidential nomination from incumbent Vice President George H. W. Bush. Robertson built on the organizational structure of his campaign to develop the Christian Coalition, the more politicized successor to Jerry Falwells earlier Moral Majority, and chose Reed as the organizations first Executive Director.
Based in Virginia Beach, VA, Reed captained the Christian Coalition during its years of prominence, from 1989 through 1997, when an incipient financial scandal sparked Reeds resignation and return to Georgia, where he founded Century Strategies, a political consulting and lobbying firm. While Director of the Christian Coalition, Reed helped to motivate the Religious Right vote which was so critical in the GOP take-over of Congress in 1994. He even appeared in a May 15, 1995 cover story in Time magazine with the caption The Right Hand of God.
Reeds first move upon his return to Georgia was to act as General Consultant for Mitch Skandalakiss campaign for Lieutenant Governor, ironically the same office for which Reed himself is currently running. Oddly, Skandalakis was a moderate, and there was already a candidate in the primary race with close ties to the Religious Right, namely State Senator Clint Day, heir to the Days Inn fortune, a devout Christian whom conservative activists initially supported. Reeds Christian Coalition credentials caused Georgias Religious Right voting bloc to split its vote between the two candidates, and with three other challengers in the field, no one got a clear majority in the primary. A further run-off between Skandalakis and Day was required, in which Skandalakis negative campaigning reached truly Olympian heights; one televised ad even accused Day of desecrating Indian burial grounds. Skandalakis edged out Day in the run-off, and the negative attacks against his Democratic challenger in the general election, State Senator Mark Taylor, began. Skandalakis offended black and urban white voters by calling Atlantas black mayor a buffoon and stating he would kick Atlantas ass, and even went so far as to accuse Taylor of drug abuse (for which Skandalakis later paid a $50,000 libel settlement). Taylor trounced Skandalakis in a general election landslide, and Reed quickly distanced himself from his candidate, saying he had not been responsible for the negative attacks and that all his actions had been legal.
Other primary victories for Reeds Republican candidates in Alabama, Kentucky and Indiana were followed by general election defeats to Democrats, which Reed characteristically blamed on the GOP Congress failed attempt to impeach Clinton, and not on his own negative campaign style, which caused his candidates races to be described as some of the most vicious and racist campaigns of the election season. With such disappointing results at the ballot box in 1998, Reeds Century Strategies morphed from a GOP-accented political consulting firm into advocacy and lobbying. In an email sent to old friend Jack Abramoff, Reed called in some favors: Hey, now that Im done with the electoral politics, I need to start humping in corporate accounts! Im counting on you to help me with some contacts.
Abramoff arranged a 1999 consultant contract with Preston Gates & Ellis, a large law firm founded by Microsofts Bill Gates father; in the same year Bushs chief political consultant Karl Rove set up a $30,000 per month contract with now-infamous Enron. The assistance may have been an assurance that Reed, noted for his negative campaigning, would not work for other conservative candidates against George W. Bush in the 2000 primary. Reed is now credited with the attacks in South Carolina against Bush challenger John McCain, where the use of push polling smeared the Arizona Senator with insinuations that his wife was insane, that he had collaborated with his Vietnamese captors to receive preferential treatment during his POW years, and that he had fathered an illegitimate black child (McCain and his wife adopted a dark-skinned daughter from Bangladesh).
Abramoffs true worth as a financial facilitator became apparent with the $4.2 million Century Strategies gleaned from Abramoffs Native American tribe clients. Reeds firm was paid to organize opposition to the opening of new Indian casinos in Texas and Alabama; Abramoffs clients already owned casinos in these locations, and didnt want the competition. Reed solicited funds and on-the-ground support from fundamentalist Christian contacts in those states, opposed to all gambling, without telling them that his clients were in fact also part of the casino business. Abramoff and Reed were actually taking money from both sides in this struggle, and soliciting the support of a rather gullible conservative constituency that was ultimately opposed to both.
Another scandal, which now threatens to overwhelm Reeds current campaign for Lieutenant Governor, involves his work with Abramoff on the Marianas Islands legislation. In 1999 Century Strategies sent a mailer to Alabama evangelicals asking them to contact their Representative and urge his support for defeating a measure which would guarantee federal wage and worker safety laws to the US-controlled commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Current regulations allowed companies to establish sweatshop conditions and import foreign workers to the Marianas, while marketing their products as Made in the USA. The US Department of the Interior reported on severe worker exploitation, extending to forced abortion and forced prostitution, but these conditions never made it into the Century Strategies mailer.
Instead, Alabama Christians were encouraged to block the move to impose US mainland standards of employment: The radical left, the Big Labor Union Bosses, and Bill Clinton want to pass a law preventing Chinese from coming to work on the Marianas Islands, where they would be exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ, converted to the Christian faith and afterward return to China with Bibles in hand. The spectacle of a supposed born-again Right to Life champion condoning and even aggressively supporting forced abortion, prostitution and substandard wages and working conditions has not been an easy one to square with Reeds image.
In 2001, Reed was chosen as State Chairman for the Georgia Republican Party, and was instrumental in the GOP upsets that ensued in the 2002 mid-term elections. These deserve some attention in their own right, as setting the stage for Reeds current beleaguered bid for Lieutenant Governor.
After the 2000 vote debacle in Florida, Georgia was among the first states to convert almost exclusively to electronic voting methods, mostly without paper trail for audits; 2002 was the first year they were in use across the Peach State. Principal among that years stunning upsets were the races for US Senator and state Governor, both offices held by popular Democratic incumbents. Reed focused on the Senate race, which featured Saxby Chambliss (who had used a medical deferment to avoid service in Vietnam) attempting to portray incumbent Max Cleland (a Vietnam veteran who had lost three limbs in a grenade explosion) as unpatriotic, principally due to his objection to certain measures of the USA PATRIOT Act and the powers granted to the Department of Homeland Security.
On the Sunday before the election, polls showed Cleland maintaining a 49%-44% lead on Chambliss, and incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Barnes ahead of Sonny Perdue, his GOP challenger, at 48%-39%. But on the morning after Election Day, Georgians woke to the startling news that these races had unaccountably flippedChambliss won the senate race 53%-46%, and Perdue ousted Barnes by 52%-45%. Much like Floridas Katherine Harris, Reed has experience of the magical benefits to GOP candidates from paperless voting systems, which may speak volumes to his determination to remain in a race that has significantly soured for him of late.
Things started out well. When Reed announced his candidacy on 17 February 2005, one of his potential challengers dropped out of the race on the spot. The previous lead candidate, who had been campaigning for over a year, withdrew two weeks later. Reed seemed to suck up all the oxygen, and all the contributions, in the state. Until late summer 2005 Reed led significantly in fundraising (setting a record for Lieutenant Governor races in Georgia), among GOP nomination challengers and likely Democratic opponents as well, but by early autumn the Jack Abramoff scandal had begun to grow, bringing to light Reeds associations with the Indian casinos and Marianas sweatshops campaigns. By the end of the year, Reeds contributor base had all but dried up, with likely Democratic opponent State Senator Casey Cagle taking in almost twice the funds in the last half of 2005.
By February 2006 Reeds plummeting poll numbers and concern over his chilling effect on the entire GOP ticket prompted 21 state senators to issue a letter calling on Reed to withdraw; one went even further, formally requesting the return of his $4000 contribution. Several members of Reeds campaign steering committee have resigned their posts and endorsed Cagle, including Reeds State Co-Chairman. Bush has explicitly refused to endorse his candidacy, and while Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue (whom Reed may have helped into office with the 2002 e-vote fraud) and Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson remain officially neutral, many of their top aides have endorsed Reeds primary opponent. Georgias Republican primary will be held July 18.
Not surprisingly, Ralph Reeds chart is one focused on power and deception. The Sun at 2 Cancer is part of a Galactic T-Square involving an opposition from Black Holes at 4 Cancer and Capricorn, and a square to the supermassive Black Hole center of Galaxy M-87 at 1 Libra, the largest anomaly of its type of which we are aware. Contacts with this point often reveal an insatiable hunger for energy and power, while the Sun conjunct a Black Hole is the archetype of the confidence man, one who is able to appear wholly different from what he truly is, and prove convincing and persuasive in the role he adopts. Reeds true colors come through in his lobbying work for the Marianas Islands business community and the Indian casinos, and that image is at particular variance with the squeaky-clean, baby-faced facade presented by Reed as head of the Christian Coalition. His goal is power, whether via political or economic means, and he can be ruthless or unscrupulous in how he gets it.
Saturn, representative of executive power, corporate business and career, and ones place in society or the world, is appropriately conjunct two Pulsars, informational Deep Space anomalies often linked to powerful PR or media types. Reed has always had a knack for getting himself heard and making his points in the media, and his specialty in political consultation and advocacy feeds directly into these energies as well. From 28 Capricorn, Saturn lies within the strongest network of Deep Space anomalies there isit opposes one Black Hole and squares another, and no less than seven anomalies in all appear at the 28th degree of various Signs, all aspecting Reeds career planet.
Mercury at 7 Cancer is retrograde, conjunct both a Quasar and a Black Hole, sextile natal Pluto at 5 Virgo, trine natal Neptune at 8 Scorpio and inconjunct natal Jupiter at 8 Aquarius. Reed excels in communicating a message (Quasar), which is powerful and persuasive (Black Hole), but nonetheless deceptive (Neptune); he casts his net widely, easily disseminating his message, and has the ability to influence political philosophy (all Jupiter). He stands out in a crowd (Quasar) and can be a transformative force in the world (Pluto), particularly as he affects religion (Jupiter), but there is always something dark and compelling, a behind-the-scenes manipulation of reality for his own ends (Black Hole), and he rarely shows his true face, preferring the mask (Neptune). Mercury retrograde in Cancer indicates a retentive memory and a tendency to brood on past hurts. With Mercury and the Sun conjunct, the man and the message are virtually indistinguishable.
Having both Neptune and the Moon in Scorpio, and with Neptune trine Sun/Mercury, the deceptive or misleading traits are emphasized, and there is a tendency toward martyrdom or victimhood, especially when pressed about his own ethics lapses. A Mars/Uranus conjunction in late Leo indicates a somewhat uncertain temperament, likely to tend toward volatility when frustrated in his ends. Venus conjunct a Black Hole in Taurus speaks to a pecuniary covetousness which ill beseems a supposedly righteous leader, and could indicate radically shifting values (will we see Reed as Grand Marshall of a Gay Pride parade someday?). Unlikely, but with Black Hole Venus, anything is possible. Black Hole Venus natives often deal with exorbitantly large sums of money.
In 1989, the year of his ascendancy in the Christian Coalition, Reed was hit with a trifecta of celestial energies Uranus in early Libra was in square to natal Sun/Mercury, Neptune in Capricorn was finishing its opposition to natal Mercury, and Pluto in mid-Scorpio opposed natal Venus. The sudden prominence is easy to see in Sun/Uranus, and the glib, boyish facade which became his trademark image emanates from Mercury/Neptune, but the real powerhouse here is Venus/Pluto, bringing dominion and control together with advocacy and big finance.
On Election Day 2006, a Scorpio stellium straddles his Neptune and Moon, with transit Mars and Sun still within orb of natal Neptune. This could indicate a major disappointment, a time of disillusion, or be a signature of massive fraud and deception. Transit Saturn at 24 Leo is highlighting the natal Uranus/Mars conjunction at 23 and 27, possibly frustrating (Saturn) ambition (Mars), but again a potential indicator of success or attainment (Saturn) via electronic or high-tech means (Uranus). Transit Neptune at 17 Aquarius is exactly square natal Venus, while the transit Venus/Mercury conjunction at 17 and 18 Scorpio opposes it, creating a temporary T-Squarewomens votes could prove pivotal in Reeds race for Lieutenant Governor, and they will be very hard to pin down. Transit Uranus at 10 Pisces retrograde fills in the natal Mercury/Neptune trine to create a temporary Grand Trine, perhaps the clearest indicator of probable high-tech (Uranus) vote (Mercury) fraud (Neptune).
Reed may well win his race, but if so, it will likely be thanks to e-vote technologies, and not the will of the people.