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William T

Jan 22, 2022, 3:16:18 PMJan 22

Top Republicans rub shoulders with extremists in secretive rightwing
group, leak reveals

Then president Donald Trump arrives to speak to the 2020 Council for
National Policy meeting in Arlington, Virginia, in August last year. The
group was founded in 1981 by activists influential in the Christian right.
Then president Donald Trump arrives to speak to the 2020 Council for
National Policy meeting in Arlington, Virginia, in August last year. The
group was founded in 1981 by activists influential in the Christian right.
Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Wealthy entrepreneurs and media moguls also named on membership list for
influential Council for National Policy Jason Wilson

A leaked document has revealed the membership list of the secretive
Council for National Policy (CNP), showing how it provides opportunities
for elite Republicans, wealthy entrepreneurs, media proprietors and
pillars of the US conservative movement to rub shoulders with
anti-abortion and anti-Islamic extremists. The historic coal city of
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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors rightwing hate
groups, describes the CNP as “a shadowy and intensely secretive group
[which] has operated behind the scenes” in its efforts to “build the
conservative movement”.

The leaked membership list dates from September last year, and reveals the
40-year-old CNP put influential Trump administration figures alongside
leaders of organizations that have been categorized as hate groups.

The group was founded in 1981 by activists influential in the Christian
right, including Tim LaHaye, Howard Phillips and Paul Weyrich, who had
also been involved in founding and leading the Moral Majority. Initially
they were seeking to maximize their influence on the new Reagan
administration. In subsequent years, CNP meetings have played host to
presidential aspirants like George W Bush in 1999 and Mitt Romney in 2007,
and sitting presidents including Donald Trump in 2020.

In videos obtained by the Washington Post in 2020, the CNP executive
committee chairman, Bill Walton, told attendees of the upcoming election:
“This is a spiritual battle we are in. This is good versus evil.”

The CNP is so secretive, according to reports, that its members are
instructed not to reveal their affiliation or even name the group.

Heidi Beirich, of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said in
an email that “this new CNP list makes clear that the group still serves
as a key venue where mainstream conservatives and extremists mix”, adding
that CNP “clearly remains a critical nexus for mainstreaming extremism
from the far right into conservative circles”.

The document – which reveals email addresses and phone numbers for most
members – shows that the CNP includes members of SPLC-listed hate groups.

They include leaders of organizations listed as anti-Muslim hate groups,

Frank Gaffney, founder and executive chairman of the Center for
Security Policy (CSP)

Brigitte Gabriel, founder and chairman of Act For America (AFA)


They also include several founders or leaders of groups listed as
anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups, such as:

Michael P Farris, president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom

Brad Dacus, founder and president of the Pacific Justice Institute

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council

Matthew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel

Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association

Also, there are members of organizations listed as anti-immigrant hate
groups, including James and Amapola Hansberger, co-founders of Legal
Immigrants For America (Lifa).

Additionally, the list includes members of groups that have been accused
of extremist positions on abortion. They include Margaret H Hartshorn,
chair of the board of Heartbeat International, which has reportedly spread
misinformation worldwide to pregnant women.

Several high-profile figures associated with the Trump administration, or
conspiracy-minded characters in Trump’s orbit, are also on the list, such
as Jerome R Corsi, who has written conspiracy-minded books about John
Kerry, Barack Obama and the September 11 attacks. Corsi is listed as a
member of CNP’s board of governors.

Along with these representatives of extremist positions, the CNP rolls
include members of ostensibly more mainstream conservative groups, and
representatives of major American corporations. Still others come from the
Republican party, a network of rightwing activist organizations, and the
companies and foundations that back them.

A newcomer to the group since a previous version of the member list was
exposed is Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point USA
(TPUSA), a conservative youth organization.

Although TPUSA works hard to make inroads into mainstream culture with
stunts and on-campus events, Kirk has recently staked out more hard-right
positions, saying last week that Democratic immigration policies were
aimed at “diminishing and decreasing white demographics in America”, a day
after Tucker Carlson ventilated racist “great replacement” conspiracy
theories on his Fox News program.

The CNP is so secretive, reports say, that members are told not to
reveal their affiliation or name the group


Conservative movement heavyweights in the group include Lisa B Nelson,
chief executive of the American Legislative Exchange Council; Eugene
Mayer, president of the Federalist Society; Grover Norquist, president of
Americans for Tax Reform; Daniel Schneider, executive director of the
American Conservative Union, which organizes the CPac conference; and L
Brent Bozell III, the founder of the Media Research Center and a member of
the Bozell and Buckley dynasties of conservative activists.

Other members include pillars of the Republican political establishment,
including former GOP congressional majority leader Tom DeLay; former
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker; Reagan administration attorney general
Edwin Meese III; and former RNC chair and Trump White House chief of staff
Reince Priebus.

Their number also includes sitting congressmen such as Barry Loudermilk
and influential operatives like David Trulio, who was the senior adviser
and chief of staff to the under-secretary of defense in the Trump

The member list also includes representatives of major US corporations,
such as Marc Johansen, vice-president for the satellites and intelligence
program for Boeing; Jeffrey Coors, of the Coors brewing family, who have
extensively sponsored conservative groups; Lee Roy Mitchell, the founder
and chairman of the board for movie chain owner Cinemark Holdings; Steve
Forbes, the founder and chief executive of the Forbes business media
empire; and Scott Brown, a senior vice-president at Morgan Stanley.

Other members of the group represent organizations that operate under a
veil of secrecy, with conservative “dark money” organizations well

One member, Lawson Bader, is the president of Donor’s Trust and Donors
Capital Fund, nonprofits that disguise the identities of their own donors,
and whose largesse to rightwing causes has earned them the reputation as
“the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement”.

Another member, Richard Graber, is the president and chief executive of
the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. The Bradley foundation has long
bankrolled conservative movement causes, including Donors Trust, and has
reportedly sponsored widespread efforts to discredit the election of Joe
Biden in 2020. Pelosi speaks on the Build Back Better Act from US
Capitol<br>epa09493760 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (R), along with
other Democratic lawmakers, prepares to hold a news conference to discuss
critical provisions in the 'Build Back Better Act' that tackle the climate
crisis outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 28 September 2021.

Conservative media figures are also on the list: Neil Patel, co-founder
and publisher of the Daily Caller; Larry Beasley, chief executive of the
rightwing newspaper the Washington Times; and Floyd Brown, the founder of
the Arizona-based Western Journal and founder of the Citizens United Pac.

Pro-gun groups are also represented, with NRA chief executive Wayne
LaPierre and Gun Owners of America founder Tim Macy each listed as

The 220-page document – which includes a statement of principles and an
indication of members’ policy interests alongside a complete member list –
was leaked and provided to journalists via a transparency organization,
Distributed Denial of Secrets.

An earlier, redacted version of the list was published along with
reporting by the Center for Media and Democracy in late 2020. DDOSecret’s
publication restored personal information, which allowed further reporting
and verification of the list’s contents.

Emma Best from that group said in a messenger chat that CNP was “a
secretive forum for ultra-wealthy and elite conservatives to strategize
and form long-term plans that have national and international impact”.
Therefore, she said, “any opportunity to shine a light on their members,
activities and interests is clearly in the public interest”.

The Guardian repeatedly requested comment from CNP staff, including
executive director Bob McEwen, and other groups mentioned in this story
but received no immediate response.

William T

Jan 23, 2022, 2:34:33 PMJan 23
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