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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: cpac

Male Aide Accuses CPAC Chief Schlapp Of Unwanted Sexual 'Groping'

More details have emerged in the sexual misconduct allegations against Matt Schlapp, the ultra-conservative longtime Republican operative and lobbyist, chair of the American Conservative Union, the organization that produces the highly-influential Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and a Trump ally whose wife worked for for the ex-president.

A mid-level aide to the Herschel Walker campaign is accusing Schlapp of groping and fondling his genitals after taking him to two bars as he chauffeured him around Atlanta. The Daily Beast was the first to report the allegations.

Last October, Schlapp allegedly invited the staffer “to meet for drinks that night at the Capital Grille restaurant in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, the staffer said,” according to NBC News. “He believed the extra face-to-face time could help him solidify a professional connection with one of the party’s most influential figures.”

“Schlapp, who drank Tito’s vodka during the night, began ‘intruding into my personal space’ at the second bar, the staffer said. At one point, Schlapp bumped into the staffer’s gun while their legs touched, the staffer said, prompting Schlapp to ask what he was carrying.”

“‘Sig Sauer,’ the aide said, surprised to find that Schlapp seemed unfamiliar with the name of the gun given CPAC’s emphasis on Second Amendment rights.”

In audio recorded by the staffer that NBC posted in its report, the aide says Schlapp “put his hands on me in a sustained and unsolicited and unwanted manner.”

The aide alleges at one point Schlapp asked him, “Are you uncomfortable looking at me?”

That made “the aide even more uncomfortable than he already was, he said. In short order, he told Schlapp that they had an early morning and it was best to call it a night.”

In the car, “Schlapp began fondling his leg, he said. That progressed, the staffer said, as the two men made their way toward the Hilton Garden Inn at the Atlanta airport, a ride of about 15 minutes with little traffic.”

Schlapp “‘literally had his hands on me,’ the staffer said in a video he recorded early in the morning of October 20, just a couple of hours after the alleged incident. ‘Matt Schlapp of the CPAC grabbed my junk and pummeled it at length.’ The staffer did not post the video publicly but shared it with NBC News.”

“To my shame, I did not say ‘no’ or ‘stop,'” the staffer also said.

“God knows it was not a wanted advance.”

The aide says had Schlapp just made a “polite pass” he would never had said anything.

“‘If he had made a polite pass at me and left it that,’ the staffer said, ‘only me, Matt and God would know about that.'”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Right-Wing Propagandists For Putin Bring Disgrace On 'Conservatism'

At the moment when freedom-loving people around the world are elated (if on tenterhooks) at the progress of Ukrainian forces in pushing back the Russian invaders, Heritage Action, the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, has joined with other self-styled conservative groups to oppose helping Ukraine fight for its life. I know, I know, the Trumpification of the GOP has been a fact for six years, and yet this heel turn is remarkable. It's as if People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced that they support puppy mills for medical research.

The pro-Putin, pro-authoritarian voices in the GOP are not yet a majority — about a quarter of House Republicans and 11 of 50 Senators voted against the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine in May — but they're not a small minority either, and the wind is at their backs. The Conservative Political Action Conference has all but canonized Hungary's strongman Viktor Orban, and in the first hours after Putin rolled into Ukraine, Trump reveled in the murderer's "savvy" and "genius." The 2022 election could bring more authoritarian-friendly Republicans to Congress, and meanwhile, hatcheries of conservative orthodoxy like Fox News and The Federalist are doing the spade work of persuading the base that Kremlin propaganda is more trustworthy — pravda, if you will — than The New York Times.

Just two weeks ago, Tucker Carlson, Putin's favorite American broadcaster (clips from his show are routinely featured on Russian state TV), told viewers that Biden's steadfast support of Ukraine was absurd: "Biden is calling for an unconditional surrender from Vladimir Putin. Here's the weird thing: By any actual reality-based measure, Vladimir Putin is not losing the war in Ukraine."

Poor timing. But that's the least of it. It was bad enough to excuse Putin before February 24 on the risible grounds that he represented some sort of Christian champion and scourge of wokeness. But after? That a spokesman for a so-called conservative TV network can cheer the rape of a free country (Carlson has said he "roots" for Russia to win) is not just morally depraved, it violates the basic tenets of what used to be conservatism. American conservatives once believed that freedom was our most precious inheritance. We were friends to all freedom-loving people and foes of all tyrants. Speaking on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, Ronald Reagan said this to the aging soldiers who had scaled the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc:

"You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt. You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man."

Now it's goodbye to all that apparently. J.D. Vance, Trump's hand-picked candidate for an Ohio Senate seat has said he doesn't care one way or the other what happens to Ukraine. The Federalist denounces Mitch McConnell (who traveled to Ukraine to show support) and other "swamp creatures" for putting Ukraine's security needs ahead of America's. The vapidity of this new "conservatism" is bottomless. They haven't bothered to consider that brutal aggression by a larger against a smaller state invites a Hobbesian international disorder in which no one is safe.

A number of Republicans have seized on the talking point that Biden is more concerned with Ukraine's border than with our southern border. Blake Masters, the Peter Thiel-conjured Republican nominee for US Senate in Arizona, sneered that America's leaders are "buffoons who hate you so ... they'll keep defending Ukraine's borders while turning their backs on ours." Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) and her ilk found this irresistibly witty and repeated it.

As if thousands of would-be immigrants attempting to cross the Rio Grande for work represent a comparable threat to tanks and missiles destroying cities, murdering men, women, and children, creating millions of refugees, and cutting off food and electricity. This talk of "invasion" of our southern border was always hyperbolic, but to cling to it at a time when our screens are full of images of a true invasion becomes vile.

These supposed conservatives are strangers to the most important themes of traditional conservatism. They dishonor the name. Conservatism was a worldview intimately bound up with opposition to tyranny. Of course we fell short of our aspirations from time to time, but love of freedom was in our DNA — or so it seemed. Our hearts were with oppressed peoples from Lithuania to Tibet to Tehran. We cheered the fall of the Berlin Wall because the USSR was a comprehensive, seven-decade assault on human dignity. We hated it for its repression of speech, thought, religion, movement, and enterprise. We hated it for its torrent of lies.

Putin's Russia differs from the USSR in ideology, but in repression and rapacity, it is comparable. And it's scarcely believable that the "useful idiots" who make excuses for it today — who actually root for its success — are "conservatives."

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Viktor Orban Is A Racist Bully — And A Failed Leader

Nobody should still pretend to be shocked that the Conservative Political Action Conference, an entity no longer "conservative" in any meaningful sense, would feature an appearance by an authoritarian leader like Viktor Orban. The Hungarian autocrat is the idol of the international far Right. He has repeatedly enjoyed the bootlicking attentions of Tucker Carlson on Fox News and indeed, CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp led his gang to celebrate Orban in Budapest earlier this year.

What makes Orban so alluring to the American far rightists is his example as an illiberal politician who, unlike their idol former President Donald Trump, has managed to corrupt Hungarian democracy so thoroughly as to guarantee his own continuing rule.

Trump attempted to steal the 2020 election by an assortment of tactics that included mob violence but failed (although he and his followers are poised to try again). Trump complains about the news media, while Orban seized control of media outlets in Hungary and ruthlessly suppressed his critics. Trump blurts out racist and anti-Semitic allusions, but Orban openly encourages bigotry against Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians along with state action against the vulnerable targets of his Christian nationalist dogma — which echoes the fascist ideology that once ruled his homeland. Both of these pseudo-populists decry "globalism," whatever that means (and what it means can change instantly according to political convenience).


In short, the Orban regime is just what Republicans like Schlapp and Carlson envision for America's future, with or without Trump himself.

Behind the aggressive rhetoric of the Budapest boss, however, lies a less imposing reality. In Dallas, Orban exhorted the boisterous CPAC crowd to join his angry movement against "the globalists." That conspiratorial rubric includes the European Union, of course, despite the inconvenient fact that Hungary is an EU member state. "We must take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels," he thundered.

To the cowboy fascists, Orban must sound like one tough hombre — except that he is currently on his knees before the European authorities, ten-gallon hat in hand, as he pleads for their financial assistance. Years of his incompetent rule have inflicted fiscal and monetary disaster on Hungary, and he is begging the "globalists" to bail him out. But his admirers in the West are much too polite (and dishonest) to mention these embarrassing realities.

Consider inflation, the rallying issue that Republicans hope will create a "red wave" in midterm elections. Nearly every day, outfits like CPAC issue broadsides against President Joe Biden that blame him and Democrats for rising prices. They won't acknowledge the real inflationary pressures caused by pandemic disruptions and the Russian assault on Ukraine.

And what CPAC won't ever mention is that inflation in many other nations is higher than here — including Hungary, where year-on-year prices have spiked by almost 12 percent so far and are expected to keep going up. Orban recently made matters worse for the average Hungarian family by ending a price cap on household utilities, but his mismanagement left no other choice. The same inexorable forces led him to raise taxes on small business, which will be passed on to consumers.

The Hungarian currency is plunging to new lows, along with its stock market, while the country's deep budget deficit has yet to reach bottom. Naturally, the middle-class and working-class voters who voted to back Orban are infuriated by his failures - and thousands of them have taken to the streets in protest. They didn't mention that in Dallas either.

In Brussels, meanwhile, the European Union leaders have given Hungary's finance ministry a long list of demands that Orban must meet before any bailout funds will be released. The conditions include restoring the rule of law, curbing the government's dictatorial tendencies and dealing more transparently with Hungary's rampant corruption. Rather than defying the EU as he suggested in Dallas, Orban meekly stopped baiting Brussels over LGBTQ issues — and has instead proclaimed his eagerness to make a deal.

Yes, like most bullies, he retreats when anyone his own size hits back.

Americans should beware the populist temptation offered by thuggish politicians of Orban's stripe. They promise to lift up the "forgotten man," whom they invariably betray in favor of plutocratic cronies and corrupt plunderers. And they consistently seek to shift public anger toward minorities, immigrants, feminists, gays, transsexuals, public school teachers and any other scapegoats perceived as too weak to resist.

Not long before his CPAC appearance, Orban spoke on immigration in Romania, declaring that Europeans "do not want to become peoples of mixed race." So horrified was one of his closest advisers that she resigned publicly, denouncing the speech as "a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels."

That sickening incident didn't disturb Orban's CPAC fans at all, of course. Everyone knows that's what they like about him.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

CPAC Meeting In Hungary Promotes Assault On Liberal Democracy

During a speech at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference in Hungary, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson his “friend” and told his audience that Carlson’s show should be “broadcasted day and night.”

Orban is a self-identified supporter of what he calls “illiberal” democracy and has rapidly consolidated power for his far-right party, Fidesz.

According to Orban, the secret to his political success was controlling the media, and he endorsed Carlson as the model to follow. “Have your own media,” said Orban, also noting: “Only friend Tucker Carlson places himself on the line without wavering.”

The nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders has labeled Orban a “predator” to press freedom for his censoring of critics and his successful consolidation of previously independent media outlets under the control of friendly oligarchs. Fidesz now controls 80 percent of the country’s media landscape, and any remaining independent outlets are denied access to official government information and labeled “fake news.”

Carlson returned the strongman’s praise in his prerecorded keynote address, celebrating Hungary as a “signpost to a better way” for America, a dog whistle to Hungary’s racist, anti-immigrant politics.

Since his election in 2010, Orban has worked to silence free speech, banned LGBTQ content in schools, and enforced harsh immigration rules. Because of these policies, the nonprofit Freedom House downgraded the country from “free” to “partly free,” making it one of the least free countries in Europe.

Orban’s far-right politics are thinly veiled applications of the same “great replacement” conspiracy theory that has become front-page news in the United States. “Hungarians are an endangered species,” he said as he stoked fears over immigrants to curtail and prevent further immigration. In 2015, the country built a wall along its border with Serbia to keep out mostly Muslim asylum-seekers, whom he characterized as “invaders” and a threat to national security, Christian identity, and Hungarian society. (Orban’s smears of migrants should sound very familiar to anyone accustomed to Fox News’ portrayals of the southern U.S. border.)

Human Rights Watch described people in Hungary’s detention centers as being “kept in pens like animals, out in the sun without food and water, without any medical assistance." According to Vox, “this is all by design: Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said his goal is to discourage refugees from crossing into Hungary, even at the cost of treating them inhumanely.”

Orban’s “great replacement” rhetoric is uncannily similar to segments from Carlson’s prime-time show. In fact, Carlson’s video appearance at the convention comes on the heels of intense media focus regarding his role mainstreaming the great replacement theory in America, which motivated a shooter to massacre 10 people in Buffalo, New York, on May 14. His praise for Hungary under Orban’s leadership is just another example of his support for the racist theory.

Orban wants to turn this ideology into a movement, and he sees Carlson’s show as a model for right-wing media outlets. During his speech at CPAC, Orban urged conservatives in America and Europe to “find allies in one another and coordinate the movements of our troops” and to “take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels.”

Carlson seems eager to help in these efforts. He praised the country’s anti-immigration policies in 2019, saying that "Hungary's leaders actually care about making sure their own people thrive” and praised Hungary for “using tax dollars to uplift their own people” instead of “every illegal immigrant from the third world.”

Despite broad international criticism for Orban’s draconian policies, Fox News greenlit a special episode of Carlson’s show last year that broadcast from Budapest, during which Carlson proclaimed, “If you care about Western civilization and democracy and families, and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by the leaders of our global institutions, you should know what is happening here right now.”

Republicans chose to hold CPAC in Orban’s Hungary, one of the world’s most repressive right-wing countries. By Orban’s own admission, a loyal media was key to his party’s takeover and overhaul of Hungary’s democracy. With midterm elections approaching, audiences should take Orban’s endorsement of his “friend” Tucker Carlson as a warning.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

CPAC Taking Overseas Donations Without Foreign Agent Registration

A Republican political action committee is now under fire for accepting foreign donations while violating an act enforcing foreign agent registration.

According to HuffPost, the American Conservative Union and the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) do not appear to be properly registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

A copy of the complaint was reportedly given to HuffPost by a conservative activist under the condition or anonymity. The circumstances surrounding the violation led to a complaint that was brought to the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

“There is sufficient evidence of alleged violations to support a federal criminal or civil investigation,” the complaint reads, according to a copy obtained by HuffPost.

The complaint reportedly names Matt Schlapp and his consulting firm Cove Strategies along with "wife, Mercedes Schlapp, a former Trump White House official and prominent player at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the American Conservative Union, the ACU Foundation."

It was also noted that a number of foreign groups participated at the conference. They include: "New Direction, a conservative think tank in Europe, CPAC Hungary, the Japanese Conservative Union, and CPAC Korea."

In a brief statement about the circumstances, the Department of Justice's FARA unit said it "does not comment on any activities the staff conducts in its efforts to enforce the Act, nor does it comment on compliance matters related to registered agents or other parties.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Never Trumpers Bombard CPAC With Billboard Attack

Fifteen months after Donald Trump was voted out of office, countless Republican entities — from the Republican National Committee (RNC) to the Conservative Political Action Conference — continue to promote unquestioning loyalty to the former president. And a decidedly MAGA lineup dominates CPAC 2022, which commenced in Orlando, Florida on Thursday, February 24 and continues through this Sunday, February 27. But an anti-Trump conservative group, the Republican Accountability Project (formerly Republican Voters Against Trump) is reminding CPAC 2022 attendees that not all conservatives are Trump loyalists.

In Orlando, RAP has paid for more than 100 anti-MAGA billboards during CPAC 2022. One of them shows an Arizona-based Republican voter named Nancy, who is quoted as saying, “I’m disgusted by today’s GOP. No integrity. It’s all about power.” And in another RAP billboard, a Colorado-based ex-Republican, also named Nancy, complains, “I don’t recognize today’s GOP. Reagan wouldn’t either.”

A billboard featuring Washington State-based ex-Republican Daniel quotes him as saying, “I’m a Cheney conservative, not a Trump Republican.”

Arch-conservative Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, blames Trump for the January 6, 2021 insurrection and voted for his second impeachment later that month. Because Cheney has been so vocal in condemning the ex-president, she is facing aggressive GOP primary challenges from several Trump loyal loyalists in her deep-red state.

In an official statement on its website, RAP said, “Making excuses for the January 6 insurrection has become commonplace. The lies about the 2020 election grow louder every day. MAGA candidates are falling over themselves to prove how Trump-loyal and Trump-like they are, and they’re driving away key parts of their base in the process. We will be running over 100 billboards in Orlando, FL, throughout this year’s CPAC conference.”

RAP has often been compared to The Lincoln Project, another right-wing anti-Trump group. RAP and The Lincoln Project both supported Democratic now-President Joe Biden in 2020’s presidential election, and members of both groups can often be found on MSNBC and CNN bashing Trump and the far-right MAGA movement.

CPAC 2022’s uber-MAGA lineup ranges from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri to Trump himself. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who was among the many candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, is featured as well.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

CPAC Features Former Leader Of Anti-Muslim Hate Group

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Conservative activist Scott Presler, who has a background as an organizer for an anti-Muslim hate group, is set to speak at this week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

"Hey, mom & dad. Your baby boy was invited to speak at @CPAC," Presler tweeted on Feb. 14.

Many of the CPAC panels are slated to discuss the topic of "voter fraud," the code language du jour used by the right to promote voter suppression. Presler has been touting his activism on the issue of "election integrity reform."

Presler also spoke at CPAC in 2020.

From 2017 to 2018, Presler worked as a lead organizer for Act for America, which the Associated Press described as a "hate group."

Act for America is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "the largest anti-Muslim group in America." The Anti-Defamation League describes Act for America similarly and notes that the group "stokes irrational fear of Muslims via a number of false claims" and "propagates the hateful conspiracy theory that Muslims are infiltrating US institutions in order to impose Sharia law."

Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of Act for America, has previously claimed that a Muslim "cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America."

During his time with Act for America, Presler was deeply involved in organizing the group's anti-Muslim "March Against Sharia" events, serving as the national coordinator for them.

NPR reported in June 2017 that the marches were "attracting many far-right sympathizers, including several who decorate their posts with Confederate flags."

White supremacist Billy Roper discussed the rallies on his podcast, saying, "We want to send a message to Muslims that they are not welcome in our communities." He also said, "We want to send a message to Muslims that they're not welcome in our nation and, of course, endgame, on our planet."

At the same time he made those comments, emails between Presler and Roper regarding the protests showed Presler writing, "You are approved and ready to go."

Presler was also involved in the "Stop the Steal" protest at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. In a Twitter post about the event, Presler described the pro-Trump assembly as a "civil rights protest." Many of the people who attacked the Capitol were a part of the protest.

Other scheduled CPAC speakers, most notably Donald Trump, have spoken favorably of the January 6 insurrection and promote extremist conspiracy theories.

Since leaving Act for America, Presler has worked for the Republican Party of Virginia and independently to promote Donald Trump.

In January 2019, Presler was temporarily suspended from Twitter after writing "Black lives murdered by criminal illegal aliens don't matter."

In March of 2020, as part of a campaign that sought to downplay fears of COVID-19, Presler posted video from outside a hospital in Virginia, noting, "I didn't see a lot of cars, a lot of people, or hardly any activity." At the time, some conservatives were claiming that images of "empty" hospitals purportedly proved that the virus was a hoax.

Over 7,300 people in Virginia have died from COVID-19.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

At CPAC, Insurrectionist Crowd Gives Sen. Hawley Standing Ovation

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Conservatives continue to reward Republicans who fought to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was one of the most prominent proponents of the "Big Lie" that Donald Trump actually won the presidential election. Hawley refused to accept the outcome of the election even after the Electoral College voted to confirm Joe Biden's victory in December.

Hawley continued his efforts to overturn the election even after the fatal January. 6th insurrection by supporters of Trump who believed Hawley's misinformation.

While the senator has been harshly criticized in Missouri, he was cheered on Friday when he bragged about siding with the insurrectionists while speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.

Many in the crowed even gave him a standing ovation.