Richard A Viguerie

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Richard A Viguerie was a southern religious conservative, and supposedly (according to his own later radio interviews) the organiser behind the Jerry Falwell-fronted Moral Majority which enrolled many anti-Communists (Catholics, Jews and evangelical Protestants) to vote in support of Ronald Reagan in 1980. These conservative groups were also free-market supporters who backed the various Libertarian think-tanks that were funded to support the tobacco industry,

Viguerie, as chairman of American Target Advertising, pioneered ideological and political direct mail and has been called "the funding father of the conservative movement" for his role in forming dozens of conservative organizations. He is the author of four books, including "America's Right Turn," (Bonus Books, 2004).

He was involved in the creation and direction of many political front groups for the right, and the tobacco industry was a financial supporter of many of them.

Documents & Timeline

1950s Young Americans for Freedom ....Was the training ground or scores of conservative leaders including Rep Robert Bauman, fund-raiser Richard Viguerie, Pat Buchanan, and Howard Phillips, cofounder of the Conservative Caucus.

1961 Viguerie was executive secretary of the conservative youth group, Young Americans for Freedom.

1965, He was the owner of direct marketing/advertising companies such as American Target Advertising.

1965 Richard Viguerie is listed as a political/campaign strategist, activist and conservative spokesman

1972 Senator Jesse Helms ended up with a campaign debt of more than $100,000 and hired Viguerie to do a test mailing. This project was built into a highly sophisticated direct-mail fund-raising operation.

1975 Viguerie founded Conservative Digest magazine in 1975 and served as its publisher for ten years.

1976 The New Republic (later) reports that

[Ed] McAteer left the C.F.F. for a more promising job as field director of the Conservative Caucus, a new group that was part of the burgeoning New Right nexus.

At its helm was Richard A Viguerie, who had parlayed the George Wallace contributions list into a huge computerized direct-mail operation, building a movement on single issue causes, such as opposition to the Panama Canal Treaty. Viguerie's right-hand man is Howard Phillips, Conservative Caucus head, who hired (Ed) McAteer as his right hand.

"Ed was the most important person in making the religious right happen," says Phillips. "He took me around to meet a lot of people. His role was that of Johnny Appleseed."

"I was crossbreeding," says McAteer.

In 1978 McAteer took Phillips to lunch at a motel outside Lynchhurg, Virginia, to meet an unknown pastor, Jerry Falwell. They proposed a plan. Falwell should be the head of a new movement group that would draw in the religious minded. Phillips even had a name: the Moral Majority. Falwell wasn't fully convinced. "There was skepticism from his people that there wasn't enough money," says Phillips. At the next meeting, however, Falwell was converted.

"McAteer didn't stop there," says Phillips. "There were more meetings." "I introduced everyone to everyone," crows McAteer. "I was introducing Phillips, I was introducing Viguerie."

There were meetings, for example, with Pat Robertson, the oleaginous prophet of God, owner of the Christian Broadcasting Network, and chief of his own political outfit, the Freedom Council. Links were established with Christian Voice, a new group which pushed legislation to declare America a "Christian nation" and issued a "Biblical Scorecard" rating legislators on "Christian issues," such as funding for the Department of Education and support tor a balanced budget amendment

1978-82 Frank Gannon (later Paul Dietrich's associate and Philip Morris's editor of the Saturday Review and Philip Morris magazine) worked for Viguerie. He was then embracing the New Right faction of the Republicans, and became a conservative fund-raiser at Viguerie & Associates.

At this time Viguerie was working for the Republican National Committee with Senator Bob Dole. He had also become the leader of the New Right with its support for populist themes like protectionism, immigration control, national voter initiatives, popular reconfirmation of Judges, and political control of the Federal Reserve -- all with an anti-centralist/Federal slant

In his 1980 book, "The New Right: We're Ready to Lead" Viguerie had written that there was an alternative to the "liberal monopoly of the mainstream media".

"It's not that the media presents the news in a partisan way, it's that they present the positive side of liberal causes, liberal issues, liberal personalities and, for the most part, ignore conservative causes, conservative issues, and conservative personalities, or present them in an unfavorable manner," Viguerie wrote. "However, there is one method of mass commercial communication that the liberals do not control - direct mail .... You can think of direct mail as our TV, radio, daily newspaper and weekly newsmagazine."

Of course it helped enormously that he was known as the "king of direct-mail fundraising", and also published the Conservative Digest with its extensive mailing lists.

1978 ...Mood of America survey (Type-in Bates Number) 500639478 says: " ... in contrast to the specialized appeal of, say. a Viguerie operation or the macho conservatism of a Committee for a Free Congress. This is the conservatism of the Bryant variety, rather than the political activism of traditional conservative causes."

1978 The Viguerie fund-raising for Jesse Helms raised $7 million, but he ended up with a debt of $250,000, most of it owed to Viguerie.

[Note: Helms was also an open supporter of the tobacco industry which gave him many hefty donations and consultant's fees.]

1981(Quote from article in tobacco documents: Ultimate source not recorded)

How much support is there in the New Right for a return to the investigative techniques of the McCarthyite 1950s? Tyson merely echoes the 1981 Heritage Foundation report to President Reagan, Mandate for Leadership, which urged the reactivation of internal security probes by the FBI, and Congress, and noted, "Individual liberties are secondary to the requirement of national security and internal civil order."

Moral compunctions will not inhibit a new McCarthyism. Richard Viguerie, the genius of New Right direct-mail politics and the publisher of Conservative Digest, recalls that during his student days his heroes were "the two Macs" — Gen Douglas MacArthur and Senator Joseph McCarthy.

And Kevin Phillips, in his 1982 book Post-Conservative America, blandly projects an America in which "increased surveillance would crack down on . . . extreme political dissidents."

1981 Feb 2 Newsweek article on the GOP establishment: A New Beginning.

Viguerie predicts. "But we're the ones building a power base. We've just got to get a bigger stick to get the donkey's attention - or, rather, the elephant's."
Distinguishing between the strains of conservatism is not always easy ... (It goes on to list and explain the various strains:)
  • The GOP establishment
  • The Old Right
  • The New Right
  • The Religious Right
  • Neoconservatives.

The Moral Majority appears to have been a collaboation of the New Right and the Religious Right. (Type-in Bates Number) 2042348620/8621

1981 Oct In 1994, court orders turned up a proposal for a new TV series of thirty nine 30-minute programs, to be hosted by Mark Shields: the series was an extension of his "Inside Washington". This original document is in a tobacco industry (Lorillard) file, and the programs are supposedly to be made by the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting.

Viguerie has already been a guest for a recent Inside Washington PBS program, and he tops the list as a guest on the new series. This document may just be publicity, or the producers are seeking funding for a new series.

[Note: the industry valued exposure on PBS far more than the commercial networks.][2]

1981 Nov 19 Congressional Record-Senate UP Amendment The Washington Post article on Sept 17 1980 discussing low-cost tax-free loans approved under special Virginian regulations )p5)

"In Northern Virginia, the most controversial project to date was the Fairfax Economic Development Authority's recent approval of a $7 million office building to be built by direct-mail wizard Richard Viguerie who has been a longtime champion of the free enterpise system. After his loan application was approved by the agency, Viguerie said he saw no reason why he should let his philosophical attitudes stand in the way of his using a program that could save him money." (industrial development bonds). [They were] also used to build a golf course, and private airports for two companies executive jets.

(Type-in Bates Number) 2074122129/2135

1982 Aug 4 The following individuals attended a meeting August A, 1982 in Washington, D.C. and issued this statement.

In the present weak economic climate, and during a time in which the Congress refuses to support the spending cuts required by the budget resolution, we friends and supporters of Ronald Reagan oppose the tax increase now before the House-Senate conference. We believe that to restore the health of the economy and put Americans back to work, America should follow a course against high taxes and high federal spending. We pledge our best efforts to reduce spending and to oppose the tax bill now before Congress.

The List includes: Lyn Nofziger,   Mike McKevitt,   Martin Anderson,   Rep. Ed Bethune,   Rep. Jack Kemp,   Rep. Bob Walker,   Dr. Norman Ture,   Dick Lesher,   Irving Kristol,   Jude Wanniski,   Bill Timmons,   Rep. Dan Lungren,   Sen. Bob Kasten,   Lloyd Unsell,   Rep. Newt Gingrich,   Bill Anderson,   Jeff Bell,   Sen. Mack Mattingly,   Dr. Paul Craig Roberts,   Mark Bragg,   Dick Fox,   Richard Viguerie,   Neil Blair,   Howard Phillips

1985 The Tobacco Institute files keep track of the genius of New Right direct-mail politics, and publisher of Conservative Digest who promotes a new McCarthyism" THE RIGHTS ATTACK ON THE PRESS.

Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of American Target Advertising, pioneered ideological and direct mail and has been called "the funding father of the conservative movement" for his role in helping build dozens of conservative organizations. Often dubbed "the direct mail titan of the right."

He is the author of a book to be released in late Spring "The Betrayal of Conservatism: How Big-Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause and Sold Out the People Who Got Them Elected (Bonus Books, 2006).


The Washington Times has published an article written by Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of, in opposition of the attempt of some members of Congress to regulate grassroots lobbying.

Only a Congress addicted to power would try to blame its internal corruption problems on too much citizen participation in politics, Viguerie wrote.

In response to Congress's own recent scandals involving money and gifts for legislative favors, several so-called ethics and lobbying reform bills have been introduced that would also regulate many grassroots lobbying efforts. S. 2128 is already out of committee in the Senate, and bills such as H.R. 4575 and H.R. 2412 are making their way through the House ofRepresentatives.

Any efforts to regulate the grassroots would lead to censorship and other unconstitutional controls over political speech, petitioning, and rights of association. No matter how Congress tries to disguise it, the regulation of grassroots lobbying is the same as blaming the People for corruption in Congress." added Viguerie.

"Any member of Congress who votes to regulate the grassroots is voting to protect corruption inside the Beltway by silencing some of the many critics outside the Beltway," concluded Viguerie's additional comments."

(Type-in Bates Number) TI11331529/1540

[Note: The complete article is available on The Washington Times website at]

1985 Mar The Conservative Digest announced to its readers that its

publisher, Richard A Viguerie, is running for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Richard Viguerie is campaigning as a concerned private citizen, not as a professional office-holder. He brings with him the broad knowledge and sound experience gained in 25 years as a successful businessman and conservative leader.

He has written also to his "Fellow Virginian" conservatives with a Virginia Voter Opinion Poll (also asking for money), and sent a copy to the Tobacco Institute. He has the support of Howard Phillips, Paul Weyrich and Newt Gingrich.

1985 May (Spring) Campaigns & Elections magazine reports that: On the conservative side, the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress (CSFC) was formed in 1974 by political strategist Paul Weyrich with assistance from direct-mail fundraiser Richard Viguerie. And in 1975, Roger Stone, Charles Black and Terry Dolan formed the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC).

Almost half of the nonconnected committees are ideological in nature. Their primary aim is to shape the orientation of Congress by helping to elect individuals who agree with their political philosophy.

1985 May 29 Donald Rumsfeld, as chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has written to Samuel D Chilcote as president of the Tobacco Institute seeking support. He encloses a favourable article on ALEC by Viguerie's Conservative Digest. [3]

1989 Oct 26 News Bites (a city paper) records that the Rev Sun Myung Moon has spent and estimated $300 million on influence money in his master plan to establish a theocratic world government with himself on top.

His US Property Development Corporation subsidiary had (in 1987) purchased direct-mail cretin Richard A Viguerie's 7777 Leesburg Pike office building in Falls Church for over $10 million.

Viguerie's operation still exists at this site along with Moon's American Constitution Committee and the Washington Times

Wes Prudem was the Time's Managing editor, and Arnaud de Borchgrave was editor. Rev Ralph David Abernathy (ex civil rights leader) was now a Moon stooge, and Bo Hi Pak was his 'right-hand man'.

[Note: The Moonies took over the Washington Times newspaper at this time. It proved to be an important supporter of the tobacco industry.]

1991 The Conservative Caucus' were now engaged in trying to work out whether to attack C Evertt Koop, the 64 year old conservative evangelical Christian nominee as Reagan's Surgeon General of the USA. He proved to be a mixed bag for the New Right and Tobacco:

  • A pediatrician "uniquely unqualified for the position"
  • He opposed abortion
  • Maintained that smoking was an addiction
  • Said they show ban cigarette advertising
  • Despite being opposed by Teddy Kennedy and the Democrats he was confirmed.
  • Wanted new labelling regulations on tobacco, set by HEW.


1992 /E Another unrecorded source about the problems of an organisaton known as USA lists:

In 1989, Richard Viguerie, president of the financially strapped direct-mail firm Viguerie & Associates, began creating organizations presumably dedicated to protecting Social Security and Medicare. While he continued to receive payment from contracts with his first organization, the Seniors Coalition, he founded a for-profit advocacy group called "The Retired Americans Legislative Lobby, Inc." To head this group, Viguerie appointed former Sen. George Murphy (R-Calif.), despite the fact that Murphy had voted against the creation of Medicare.

In just over a year, Retired Americans fell more than $1.1 million into debt. Viguerie then created the non-profit United Seniors Association to take over Retired Americans’ assets and liabilities.

Like Viguerie’s other non-profit groups, his direct mail firm was a direct beneficiary of USA’s activities. Although USA’s members were told that contributions were for issue advocacy, in reality USA’s staff was made up of direct-mail and fundraising experts (mostly former employees of Viguerie) and included no lobbyists or experts on aging issues.(58) The majority of the group’s income was funneled back into direct-mail fundraising - and into Viguerie’s business. Facing Viguerie on Larry King Live, Trish Butler, the Social Security Administration associate commissioner for public affairs under President George H. W. Bush said, "I want some accountability for the millions of dollars he’s (Viguerie) already raised for an organization that hasn’t done anything."


1992 Sep 10 The Leadership Institute and International Policy Forum are running a $175 by-invitation-only 'School' for businesses and politicians on how to use Direct Mail. Viguerie is teaching. This copy was sent to the Tobacco institute.

1997 Viguerie's company, American Target Advertising was locking into a legal battle with the Attorney General for Utah. [6] [7] [8]

1998 Mar 24 Eric K Knox, President and CEO of American Target Resources has written another "Dear Sam" letter to the Tobacco Institute. He is an old golfing buddy and has just left the Republican National Committee to work for Viguerie. [9]

1998 July 1 Samuel D Chilcote, the president of the Tobacco Institute, gets aDear Sam letter from

Viguerie's CEO at American Target Advertising inviting him to a meeting

"to discuss a strategy for dealing with the potentially unlawful activities of the state attorneys general With the defeat of the recent tobacco legislation, the A.G's are certainly girding up again." (He wanted to) ... discuss ways to take proactive measures to protect ourselves against those unlawful activities.

His list of attendees includes Viguerie, te top lobbyists from all the cigarette, beer, wine, and hard liquor companies, and the heads of the national food stores, drug stores, and business organisations. + Microsoft.[10]

1998 July 27 The Tobacco Institute is sent the list of those who will be in attendance at the meeting.

1998 July 30 The Viguerie meeting plans are outlined: the matters to be discussed, and decisions which need to be taken (A 9 page letter to all participants). They suggest joint action (a formal coalition) to initiate court cases against the state officials, and to run major media campaigns. They want to quash the idea that the A-Gs are acting on grounds of consumer protection -- and they identify tobacco, sweepstake mailers, and Microsoft as companies/industries under attack.

Their evidence was knowledge that a group of lawyers were planning to sue the tobacco companies. They believed the A[Gs are "conspiring with each other" ... in their own "self-interest", and they plan to litigate under the Civil Rights Act because they have "knowingly deprived various companies and industries of their constitutional rights". [11]

2005 Dec Rick Perlstein article in the Huffington Post.

This past year, I interviewed Richard Viguerie about conservatives and the presidential campaign. I showed him an infamous flier the Republican National Committee had willingly taken credit for, featuring a crossed-out Bible and the legend, "This will be Arkansas if you don't vote." "To do this," Viguerie told me, "it reminds me of Bush the 41st, and not just him, but other non-conservative Republicans."

Republicans are different from conservatives: that was one of the first lessons I learned when I started interviewing YAFers. I learned it making small talk with conservative publisher Jameson Campaigne, in Ottawa, Illinois, when I asked him if he golfed. He said something like: "Are you kidding? I'm a conservative, not a Republican." But back to Viguerie's expression of same. With a couple of hours' research I was able to find a mailer from an organization that was then one of his direct-mail clients that said "babies are being harvested and sold on the black market by Planned Parenthood."