'Funding Fathers' Who Propelled Reagan Overlooked in History, YAF Director Says

October 29th, 2008 9:46 AM

Three men brought together by their love for American freedom and opposition to communism played a critical, though largely unheralded role, in introducing Ronald Reagan to a national audience, a new book on the conservative movement explains.

Holmes Tuttle, the owner of a Ford dealership in Los Angeles; Henry Salvatori, the founder of Western Geophysical Company; and A.C. "Cy" Rubel of Union Oil Company formed the original "Kitchen Cabinet" of allies and friends to Reagan.

Their story is told in a new book entitled: "Funding Fathers: The Unsung Heroes of the Conservative Movement." Ron Robinson, executive director of Young America's Foundation (YAF) and his co-author Nicole Holpin, point out that behind the scenes key individuals made strategically important financial contributions to that conservative cause.

Unfortunately, the contributions of enterprising figures like Tuttle, Salvatori, and Rubel have not been reported in way that does justice to their role in history, Robinson pointed out in an interview. The YAF director also said current generation of conservatives should be mindful of example set by "funding fathers" if they expect to compete with the left over the long term.

"We're not getting feedback on these great gifts and it robs the movement of an opportunity to evaluate what has been successful and what has not," he said. "We're not finding other people willing to step forward because the impact of these financial donations has not been championed. We're probably losing other gifts that would help this country in a great way.

It was the "Kitchen Cabinet" members who organized and financed Reagan's "Time for Choosing" Speech delivered on October 27, 1964 on behalf of Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party nominee that year.

The strong statement of conservatism resonated throughout the country and set the stage for future political victories, Robinson observed. When the speech aired it included a trailer tagged at the bottom that showed where campaign contributions for Goldwater could be sent. This innovation was the handiwork of Salvatori, the book explains.

However, the format used for Reagan's speech in 1964 would be illegal as a result of today's campaign finance laws, Robinson laments. For starters Salvatori, who was the finance director for the Goldwater effort in California, would have in effect been involved in expenditures on behalf of the Reagan speech that are not permitted under current law.

"The whole underlying premise of the modern day, free speech restrictions that some people call campaign finance reform are really belied by this wonderful example of dedicated individuals who presented the country with a compelling messenger of freedom in the form of Ronald Reagan," Robinson said.

The premise of campaign finance laws is to avoid corruption and even the appearance of corruption but the "Kitchen Cabinet" team did not seek out any special favors and had no interest other than good government, he added.

"These were businessmen who felt they heard a good speech and wanted the rest of the country to hear it," Robinson said. "And it was this speech that changed the future course of the country."

The mainstream media has handled conservative philanthropy in three basic ways, according to the book: The press will either ignores the gift, vilifies the gift, or misrepresents the gift.

It is vitally important for contemporary conservatives to become better acquainted with dynamic lives of contributors so negative media reports are not unchecked, Robinson argues.

The contrasting coverage of George Soros on the left and Richard Scaife on the right is explored in the book. Soros has been described as "mover of markets," "a guru," and a "philosopher" in the media.

For his efforts on behalf of conservative and libertarian causes Scaife has been described as "the sugardaddy of the new right," "a reclusive heir," and "the right's daddy morebucks."

This mistreatment in the press has probably dissuaded at least some prospective donors from becoming involved, Robinson speculated. Conservative by nature are part of the "leave me alone coalition" and are more interested in raising their families than they are in becoming activist, he explained.

Even so, the ingenuity and generosity that helped fuel the Reagan Revolution is very much in need at the present time, Robinson said.