Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
The event, organized by the American Conservative Union, is one of the largest conferences for conservatives held anywhere in the United States each year.
But it had faced the loss of some participants over the past several years specifically because of its inclusion of GOProud. Some of the organizations whose leaders have raised concerns in recent years have included heavyweights such as the Heritage Foundation, Media Research Center, Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America.
But word of the change came today when WND obtained access to letters mailed to GOProud as well as the John Birch Society, which also was left on the chopping block by the new procedures that Al Cardenas, the chief of the organization, announced he would implement when he took over.
In a letter dated today and addressed to Jimmy LaSalvia at GOProud, Gregg Keller, national executive director for the ACU, said, “The American Conservative Union is preparing to open registration and announce sponsorship opportunities for our Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) 2012. As a courtesy to your organization, a previous co-sponsor of CPAC, this letter serves to inform you GOProud will not be invited to participate in a formal role for CPAC events scheduled during the 2012 election cycle.”
The letter noted that GOProud “members” are welcomed and encouraged to attend “as individual registrants.”
Another letter to Arthur R. Thompson, of The John Birch Society, was similar.
The ACU in recent months had shaken up its staff, with longtime chairman David Keene leaving and Cardenas replacing him. It was when Cardenas took over he promised a “comprehensive vetting process on each CPAC participant.”
He said at the time 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.”
The move that had added GOProud to the activities in recent years 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.
In a note to ACU board members, Cardenas suggested the decision on the groups was made collectively by the board.
“Thank you very much for your quick responses to our survey of the board this week regarding the participation of several entities in upcoming CPAC events,” he wrote. “As a result of the votes submitted, GOProud and The John Birch Society will not be invited to take on a formal role with CPAC events during the 2012 election cycle.”
Tom McClusky, senior vice president for FRC Action, had said when the issue with GOProud arose that, “We will no longer be involved with CPAC because of the organization’s financial mismanagement and movement away from conservative principles.”
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.”
Barber had objected to GOProud’s endorsement of “gay marriage” as well as its demand that homosexuality be promoted in the U.S. military through the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” practice.
GOProud had taken pride in its participation, stating on its own website, “GOProud, the only national organization for gay conservatives and their allies, announced they are a cosponsor of CPAC 2010.” 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.
He said what will be important moving forward is whether a group promotes ideas “counter to a conservative movement.”
WND also 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.