Al Cardenas

WASHINGTON – The homosexual activist group GOProud, whose inclusion in the Conservative Political Action Conference here last year and last week stirred controversy within the largest annual conservative gathering, will not be welcomed back next year, sources tell WND.

Some of the nation’s biggest conservative organizations withdrew from participation over the inclusion of GOProud and other factors. Those groups include the Heritage Foundation, Media Research Center, Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America.

In addition, the board of American Conservative Union, CPAC’s host organization, shook up the leadership and staff of the event for next year. David Keene, longtime chairman of the group, is moving on, to be replaced by Al Cardenas, who promised days ago a “comprehensive vetting process on each CPAC participant.”

He said he wanted to make certain that longtime supporters of the conservative movement, such as those at the Heritage Foundation, are brought “back into the fold.”

Now a source has confirmed that a board vote has been taken that will realign plans for those who participate next year to exclude homosexual advocacy, although details had not been released.

A spokeswoman at the ACU promised WND a statement regarding the new position, but it had not arrived yet.

The event’s move to include homosexual advocacy had raised the ire of those whose support is directed to conservative financial management of the nation, conservative security policy, conservative social goals and the like.

“We will no longer be involved with CPAC because of the organization’s financial mismanagement and movement away from conservative principles,” Tom McClusky, senior vice president for FRC Action, said earlier.

CWA President Penny Nancy said her organization withdrew “in part because of GOProud.”

Others who made similar decisions included the American Principles Project, American Values, the Center for Military Readiness, Liberty Counsel, and the National Organization for Marriage.

WND also reported on a campaign assembled by Americans for Truth’s Peter LaBarbera and Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber to object to GOProud’s participation.

Barber had objected, “Among other things, GOProud advocates in favor of both ‘gay marriage’ and ‘civil unions,’ against pro-marriage constitutional amendments; is pushing for the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and advocates in favor of federal ‘partnership benefits’ for homosexuals.”

“This group is pushing a radical leftist agenda that is an affront to the GOP platform, conservatism and, most importantly, the Word of God,” he said.

GOProud’s own website said, “GOProud, the only national organization for gay conservatives and their allies, announced they are a cosponsor of CPAC 2010. Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud’s executive director, said, ‘GOProud is thrilled to be a cosponsor of the single most important conservative gathering in the country.'”

Founded in 1964, ACU explains it “represents the views of Americans who are concerned with economic growth through lower taxes and reduced government spending and the issues of liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values and national security.”

Its CPAC is “the nation’s largest gathering of conservatives annually.”

According to a blogger at the FrumForum, Cardenas had warned it was “going to be difficult” to work with GOProud going forward.

He had cited the “behavior and attitude” of the homosexuality advocates, in light of the description by their leader, Chris Barron, of ACU Foundation chairman Cleta Mitchell as “a nasty bigot.”

Barron later apologized, saying he reached his breaking point because of “unfair and untrue attacks” on him, his friends, his organization and others.

“I shouldn’t have used the language that I did to describe Cleta Mitchell,” he said.

Cardenas reported that while being inclusive – and he believes that was Keene’s goal in inviting GOProud – is good, “having friends of ours leaving … presents difficulties to me.”

Cardenas told On Call that the organization’s definition of “inclusivity” was going to be revisited.

He said what will be important moving forward is whether a group promotes ideas “counter to a conservative movement.”

WND previously reported when CPAC came under criticism for allowing Suhail Khan, a Washington attorney and political activist, to serve on its board.

After serving as a Republican congressional aide in the late 1990s, Khan joined the White House staff of the George W. Bush administration as a liaison to conservative and veterans groups. He was transferred to the Department of Transportation after the Sept. 11 al-Qaida terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, when it was reported that Khan’s father, Mahboob Khan, leader of a large mosque in Santa Clara, Calif., had allowed Osama bin Laden’s No. 2 man, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, to raise money there.

WND also broke the story when the ACU reported to the Internal Revenue Service a “material diversion of the organization’s assets” totaling over $400,000. The group has an annual operating budget of about $1.5 million.

On its 2009 tax return, signed Nov. 8, 2010, by Executive Vice President Dennis E. Whitfield, the American Conservative Union disclosed the apparent embezzlement.

“The organization became aware in May 2010 of a diversion of assets for the year [ending] December 31, 2009,” the ACU disclosed on its 990 reports filed with the IRS. “The authorities were notified and the issue is now in the hands of the assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.”

Authorities in that office responded to WND inquiries with confirmation that there have been no charges or indictments that have resulted to date.

WND also had reported when Keene’s departure plans were made, when the ACU website’s listing for GOProud was changed from “sponsor” to “affiliate,” and when it first became apparent that CPAC was allowing its “Big Tent” to allow a GOProud sponsorship of its events.

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