The national Conservative Political Action Conference bestowed its 2011 Ronald Reagan Award on Tom McCabe of Olympia over the weekend.
The award, announced by CPAC chairman David A. Keene in Washington, D.C., recognizes each year “a conservative leader fighting in the trenches for the principles embodied by Ronald Reagan,” the group said in a news release after its yearly Reagan banquet.
In a sign of the hard-right yen of the group, attendees also voted in a presidential straw poll for libertarian-leaning Texas Congressman Ron Paul, giving him 30 percent of the vote. Runner-up was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 23 percent.
McCabe, known around Olympia for his bare-knuckle political tactics that earned him purported death threats from a Republican state senator, resigned as executive vice president of the Olympia-based Building Industry Association of Washington in December after building it over 20 years into a formidable political and lobbying force in Olympia.
CPAC said in its news release that:
In presenting the award, Chairman Keene said, "Tom McCabe, during his tenure as the Executive Director of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) for more than 20 years, built the organization into a force for free enterprise and conservative principles. Unlike most business associations across the nation, BIAW has been, under Tom's leadership, steadfast in its dedication to the defense of small business and entrepreneurship against the onslaught of the labor unions, trial lawyers, liberals and environmental extremists."McCabe worked in the Department of Veterans Affairs during the Reagan Administration. In 1989, he and his wife Susan moved to her home state of Washington. In 1990, McCabe was named Executive Director of the BIAW and, over the next 21 years, created the premier business trade association in the state by adhering to the simple truths of promoting freedom, free enterprise, lower taxes and less regulation."Tom's strength of character and dedication to conservatism made him a target of the liberals and the Democratic left who always oppose conservatives and even some Republicans who have attacked Tom and BIAW to please the left in furtherance of their own political ambitions. The Ronald Reagan award is given each year to a conservative warrior and we are proud to present this year's prize to such a warrior -- Tom McCabe," Keene concluded.
If McCabe was a target, he and BIAW sure knew how to dish it out – with BIAW at one time depicting Democratic nemesis and two-term Gov. Chris Gregoire as a she-wolf. Others at the BIAW once found an obscure rationale to claim Nazi roots for the environmental movement.
A new group of more moderate, corporate-oriented builders took over BIAW's board in the late fall, and McCabe received a $1.25 million settlement and other consideration when he left.McCabe and BIAW had played prominent roles in promoting Dino Rossi's campaigns for governor, which drew scrutiny of critics and state campaign finance regulators. Last year, but ran afoul of state campaign finance regulators, agreeing last year to pay a $242,000 fine to the Public Disclosure Commission and to restructure his group's handling of funds.
McCabe's BIAW also passed Initiative 841 in 2003 that repealed the state's ergonomics rules, and they helped elect conservative, constitutional rights advocate Jim Johnson to the state Supreme Court. But BIAW's measure to privatize the state's workers compensation system last November failed.
UPDATE adds detail on the ergonomics measure and clarifies it was an initiative.