Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist says he's going back to Burning Man -- with a surprising guest

RTR3HLYAReuters/Jonathan ErnstGrover Norquist.

Grover Norquist is going back to Burning Man — and he said he’s set to take Rep. Mark Sanford (R-South Carolina) with him this time.

The influential founder of Americans for Tax Reform visited Business Insider’s office on Thursday. Amid a discussion of ride-hailing apps and the free market, Norquist mentioned that he’s renting a recreational vehicle to return to the week-long annual desert festival.

“Uber works very well and you can see lots of people renting … all sorts of stuff. I’m renting an RV to go to Burning Man,” he said. “I don’t want to buy an RV. I don’t particularly want to rent a new one.”

Burning Man is relatively surprising place for a conservative policy leader to how up. The festival is famous for its embrace of psychedelic drugs and hippie-like atmosphere, culminating with the burning of a huge wooden effigy.

However, more Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and tech executives are increasingly attending the festival as well. Norquist said Burning Man’s founders invited him three years ago while they were feuding with the Bureau of Land Management, which reportedly wants money for a VIP compound in the desert.

“They were in DC because the Bureau of Land Management was screwing with them. They were charging them $US2 million; now it’s $US5 million. Because all the BLM staff like to go and hang out and pretend they’re running it or protecting the ground or the desert or something,” Norquist said. “The only thing living on the playa out there is some crustacean, some shrimp that when it rains sufficiently every three years there’s a huge rain that lasts long enough for these things hydrate, have babies, and dry up again.”

Asked if he planned to take anyone anyone with him, Norquist said Sanford would “crash” with him.

“My wife’s going to come. And Congressman Sanford, I believe, is going to come as well and crash with us,” he said.

RTR44DVKREUTERS/Jim UrquhartDillon Bracken attends the Burning Man 2014

Sanford — whose office did not return requests for comment Thursday and Friday — was briefly a national figure in 2009, when, as South Carolina’s governor, he disappeared for multiple days before admitting an extramarital affair and ultimately resigning. He successfully ran for his former congressional seat in 2013 and returned to the House. 

For his part, Norquist discussed his first Burning Man trip in a Guardian op-ed last year. The government reform activist — who gets presidential candidates and vast swaths of Congress to sign his pledge to never raise taxes — praised the festival for its culture of self-reliance.

“Burning Man is greater than I had ever imagined,” he wrote. “Some day, I want to live 52 weeks a year in a state or city that acts like this. I want to attend a national political convention that advocates the wisdom of Burning Man.” 

Here are some photos of his 2014 trip:

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