Fun in the Sun with Ralph Reed(Ralph Reed's Luxurious Sojourn at the Key West Resort in Florida)

Church & State, February 1997 | Go to article overview

Fun in the Sun with Ralph Reed(Ralph Reed's Luxurious Sojourn at the Key West Resort in Florida)


News reports from Florida suggest that Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed may not be the dour, fun-hating theocrat many Americans have thought.

According to Solares Hill, a Key West, Fla., newspaper, Reed and two top Christian Coalition lieutenants spent a few days at a posh Key West resort in the warm Florida sunshine just after New Year's Day.

The newspaper said Reed, CC National Field Director D.J. Gribben and CC Voter Education Director Charles Cunningham were registered Jan. 2-5 at Casa Marina. Receipts from Gribben's Christian Coalition American Express Card reportedly showed expenses of $4,625.23 during the sojourn. (Cunningham and Gribben stayed in $308-a-night rooms, while Reed occupied a $360-a-night space.)

In response to the newspaper's initial inquiry, Gribben said the trio were in Key West on Christian Coalition business. He refused to accept or return follow-up calls seeking more information.

The pricey Coalition junket to Key West, a destination known more for its partying than its piety, suggests that Coalition receipts must be improving. A Nov. 18 fund-raising letter from the Coalition's Reed complained that the group's massive 1996 election effort had drained coffers.

"As you can imagine," Reed wrote, "the historic Christian Voter Mobilization Campaign we put together in 1996 took an enormous toll on our financial resources. We spent nearly every penny we had on our Voter Guide distribution and Get-Out-The-Vote efforts.... Will you send a contribution today to help us recover from a financially draining election year -- so that Christian Coalition can end the year free of debt and be in a strong position to fight the battle for the family in 1997?

"I must admit," he continued, "I'm not quite sure how we'll be strong enough to fight the battle for the family successfully if good friends like you don't answer this letter by sending a contribution.... I will anxiously wait for your reply to arrive in my mailbox in the next few days."

In other developments regarding the Religious Right:

* A Christian Coalition-backed political hopeful in South Carolina has pleaded guilty to accepting illegal campaign contributions. According to The State, a Columbia, S.C., newspaper, Van Hipp sought the Republican nomination for the 1st Congressional district of South Carolina in 1994 as the Christian Coalition's favored candidate. During the race, the former state GOP chairman accepted $5,500 from two donors who had already given the legally allowed limit and recorded the money as coming from other contributors.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop charges against Hipp stemming from his involvement in a phone sex scandal. …

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