David Keene: Full steam ahead for CPAC

posted at 2:55 pm on January 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier this afternoon, I spoke with David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, about the controversy surrounding the inclusion of GOProud at CPAC and the subsequent boycotts from a handful of social-conservativism organizations, most prominently the Family Research Council.  Keene discussed the controversy at length, as well as the revelation that the ACU had initiated a probe into possible embezzlement that got aired in part because of the boycott over GOProud’s inclusion as a participating group.

The FRC made a somewhat veiled mention of the embezzlement investigation in its statement on the boycott citing “the organization’s financial mismanagement” as one reason for its withdrawal.  WND wrote about the charge in more detail, noting that it involved Keene’s ex-wife, from whom Keene had been divorced for “about a dozen years.”  Keene acknowledged that the investigation took place based on indications first shown to him a year earlier that “a significant amount” of money had disappeared over several years.  Keene says that he immediately notified the board, arranged for an outside probe into the irregularities by hiring a former US attorney to consult and run the investigation, and then recused himself from any participation in it.  His only connection to the probe from that point was as a board member, and when the board chose to turn the matter over to law enforcement, he supported their decision.  The investigation has moved from state to federal authorities, Keene says, but he has no information on where the matter rests at the moment.

The departure of FRC from the conference doesn’t appear to have Keene worried or even resentful.  Keene says that Tony Perkins “has legitimate differences” in this situation, and that while he’d prefer that the FRC participate for obvious reasons, says that groups come and go from CPAC for many different reasons.  He noted that FRC has its own successful Values Voters Summit conference series, in which Keene has participated, and many other groups hold their own conferences as well.  The ACU encourages groups to do so, as Keene says, because “the real value [in conferences] is in networking,” and that more of it produces better results. Keene declined to criticize the FRC for its choice, and told me that “Tony Perkins has done a great job over there,”  and also noted that Perkins understood how difficult it can be to deal with unfair attacks, especially after “the crap from the Southern Poverty Law Center,” which infamously branded the FRC as a hate group.

I asked Keene about whether Heritage Foundation had decided to participate, having heard while in town that they may be backing out.  Keene has not heard one way or the other at this point, and believes they are still considering their participation.

The controversy has not dented the momentum for CPAC a bit, Keene says.  Attendance at last year’s CPAC broke records even with a similar boycott in place from GOProud’s initial inclusion as a participating group.  This year’s registrations are at the same level as last year’s at this point of days before the event, and last year CPAC had already announced Glenn Beck as their featured speaker and had experienced a big spike in registrations.  (Keene didn’t say when CPAC would announce this year’s speaker.)  Last year, CPAC had 103 participating groups and sponsors, and so far in 2011, CPAC has confirmed 117.  They have had no problem lining up speakers, Keene says, and predicts that this will break last year’s attendance records.

For the record, the FRC says that it is not “boycotting” CPAC, but simply have declined to participate, as Keene also characterizes it:

That said, we are not “boycotting” CPAC. We’re simply not participating. FRC has chosen not to partner with a “conservative” event that places the protection of marriage on the same plane as redefining it. Would CPAC team up with the Brady Campaign which fights to restrict–if not abolish–the Second Amendment? Would it collaborate with groups who promote doubling capital gains taxes? Regardless of what CPAC organizers may believe, conservatives and homosexual activists cannot coexist in a movement predicated on social values. This has nothing to do with whether individual homosexuals should be allowed to attend CPAC, or whether they are capable of holding conservative positions on some issues. We recognize that some organizations represented at CPAC are silent on the issue of homosexuality. But organizations whose whole reason for existence is to promote the forced public affirmation of homosexual conduct should not be welcomed at CPAC, because that is not-by any stretch of the imagination-a “conservative” agenda. By allying itself with liberal social organizations, ACU is abandoning at least a third of the conservative movement.

Our participation in CPAC–or lack of it–has absolutely no bearing on our ability to love and dialogue with people who disagree with us. As I’ve said before, we’ll debate the other side on issues like marriage anytime–anywhere. But the suggestion that conservatives should debate marriage on our own turf is demeaning and downright deceptive. This is a fundamental principle that shouldn’t be up for debate in any conservative gathering. If the policy is not up for discussion, why foster the impression? If it is, then make that clear upfront. This is a matter of basic integrity. Other coalition members, who question the wisdom of our stand, should realize that this is a fight for more than social values. If marriage is fair game at CPAC, which issues are not? Limited government? National security? Social, economic, and defense conservatism form an integrated and indivisible whole.

Reaching out to new allies is a worthy goal, but not at the cost of driving a deep wedge in the movement that was unified to bring change to Washington this fall. Some of our friends have criticized FRC’s decision by drawing the scriptural parallel of Jesus eating with sinners. But this isn’t Jesus eating with sinners–it’s Jesus partnering with them to open a restaurant! My friend, the late Adrian Rogers, said it best: ” It is not love and it is not friendship if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie… It is better to stand alone with the truth than to be wrong with a multitude.”


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I wonder how many communists with vision problems get excited at first when they see the word CPAC?

Badger40 on January 7, 2011 at 2:58 PM

I wonder how many communists with vision problems get excited at first when they see the word CPAC?

Badger40 on January 7, 2011 at 2:58 PM

LOL!!!

SHARPTOOTH on January 7, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Is it conservativism or conservatism?

steebo77 on January 7, 2011 at 3:08 PM

I don’t care about GOProud – my issues with CPAC stem from David Keene’s willingness to sell his opinion – or change his opinion, and that of his organization – for MONEY.

John Ziegler sooooooo owned this guy – I’m really surprised he still peaks his head above the weeds to be seen in public.

HondaV65 on January 7, 2011 at 3:11 PM

steebo77 on January 7, 2011 at 3:08 PM

The latter.

Fortunata on January 7, 2011 at 3:11 PM

I don’t care about GOProud – my issues with CPAC stem from David Keene’s willingness to sell his opinion – or change his opinion, and that of his organization – for MONEY.

John Ziegler sooooooo owned this guy – I’m really surprised he still peaks his head above the weeds to be seen in public.

HondaV65 on January 7, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Ditto.

steebo77 on January 7, 2011 at 3:12 PM

HondaV65 on January 7, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Whores of any type are despicable.

Badger40 on January 7, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Is Sarah Palin appearing at CPAC 2011? Her militant lesbian Christian-bashing retweets will go over well with the GOProud crowd.

boko fittleworth on January 7, 2011 at 3:19 PM

When is CPAC going to allow GO-S&M to put up a booth? NAMBLA?

I mean, how else will we ever benefit from their vast wisdom unless we, er, get in bed with them?

Akzed on January 7, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Is Sarah Palin appearing at CPAC 2011? Her militant lesbian ChristianLindsey Graham?-bashing retweets will go over well with the GOProud crowd.

boko fittleworth on January 7, 2011 at 3:19 PM

steebo77 on January 7, 2011 at 3:22 PM

Can I ask a question that’s only semirelated to this? I would ask somewhere else, but I’m not sure the best place. I’m planning on going to CPAC this year for the first time, and I don’t know what to expect. Is there anything I should know in advance? How late does it go every night? Is it worth the time and money?

WesternActor on January 7, 2011 at 3:27 PM

I’m planning on going to CPAC this year for the first time, and I don’t know what to expect. Is there anything I should know in advance? How late does it go every night? Is it worth the time and money? WesternActor on January 7, 2011 at 3:27 PM

If you’re gay there will be a lot more to do there this year than in years past.

Akzed on January 7, 2011 at 3:29 PM

IYNWIMAITYD

Akzed on January 7, 2011 at 3:29 PM

If you’re gay there will be a lot more to do there this year than in years past.

Akzed on January 7, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Aww you beat me to it.

Badger40 on January 7, 2011 at 3:32 PM

If you’re gay there will be a lot more to do there this year than in years past.

Akzed on January 7, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Well, I’m not, but thanks! Uh, I think. :)

WesternActor on January 7, 2011 at 3:34 PM

I’m through with CPAC. When an organization lets legitimate conservative groups walk so that a homosexual “conservative” group can participate, I’m done. If GOProud were actually conservative I would have no problem but they’re not. When you are pushing the leftist homosexual agenda (as GOProud does) then you are not a conservative group. When I look at an organization to support I’m looking for the whole package, fiscal AND social conservatism.

Lizzy on January 7, 2011 at 3:59 PM

I think the problem is that CPAC is made up of “groups”. Yes, gays could come as individuals and no one would know better. But CPAC encourages groups to attend. These folks are a group.

GOproud does not state a position on gay marriage or abortion. They are mostly a limited government, fiscally responsible platform. Just go to their website and see.

They are NOT “gay activists”

It clashes with our Christian Identity, I know. And isn’t easy to figure all this out and come to an agreement.

I guess it boils down to the chasm between the culture war and the political war. Heritage, the MRC and the FRC wants to win both and fight both battles on the same field.

It can’t be done.

Kick out, shun and exclude gays and you might win some battles in the culture war. But kicking out gays will turn independents, non-believers, secular “just shopping at the mall” Americans away. That, my friend is the recipe for losing an election.

If Heritage, FRC and the MRC want to win elections, they are going about it in the wrong way .

If they want to fight for a more pure culture in line with Christianity, fine.

Pick a fight, though.

Opposite Day on January 7, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Is Sarah Palin appearing at CPAC 2011? Her militant lesbian Christian-bashing retweets will go over well with the GOProud crowd.

boko fittleworth on January 7, 2011 at 3:19 PM

IDIOT.

T. Bruce essentially tweeted that Democrats were “HYPOCRITE” with regards to LGBT voters.

TheAlamos on January 7, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Bruce tweeted, and SP retweeted: “But this hypocrisy is just truly too much. Enuf already–the more someone complains about the homos the more we should look under their beds.”

In other words, Sarah tells us, criticism of the gay agenda is an indicator of perversion. Sarah Palin repeated gay agitprop meant to shut Christians up. She’ll fit right in at the new, fabulous CPAC.

boko fittleworth on January 7, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Is Sarah Palin appearing at CPAC 2011? Her militant lesbian Christian-bashing retweets will go over well with the GOProud crowd.

boko fittleworth on January 7, 2011 at 3:19 PM

By “Christian-bashing militant lesbian”, you mean Tammy Bruce. When Christine O’Donnell felt the need to reassure Delaware voters that she was person whom they could trust as Senator, she turned Tammy Bruce for help. If O’Donnell isn’t a true conservative, I’m wondering if you could name three politicians who are?

thuja on January 7, 2011 at 4:18 PM

Bruce is a militant lesbian. Bruce’s tweet was militant lesbian Christian-bashing. Palin’s retweet was also militant lesbian Christian-bashing.

SP is not a militant lesbian and she is a Christian. So why is she repeating a common anti-Christian (and anti-all people of goodwill) slur used by radical gays to shut Christians up?

I cannot understand why this story is not a bigger deal.

boko fittleworth on January 7, 2011 at 4:24 PM

Apparently, GOProud has publicly attacked FRC, and other social conservative groups in the past. They’re not completely innocent either. CPAC is maybe more libertarian, and that’s okay, but it’s a different group.

RBMN on January 7, 2011 at 4:27 PM

boko fittleworth on January 7, 2011 at 4:24 PM

Hypberbole. Tammy Bruce is a militant conservative – but not a militant lesbian. Her show has been very “chill” about discussing Homosexual issues at all.

She’s allowed to go overboard every now and then. And you can take that as an opinion from a guy who is PRO-DADT and ANTI-Gay Marriage.

As far as Palin’s retweets – what? Haven’t we been complaining that Sarah Palin doesn’t have enough appeal to the center to win a Presidential bid?

Palin is a smart cookie – she’ll have to take some soft positions like this in order to get elected. Let’s all be smart cookies too and realize that this is a reality.

HondaV65 on January 7, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Those who publicly stand against the gay movement are heroes who brave ridicule, defamation, and worse. Palin is standing with the militant homosexuals and insinuating that the opponents of the gay agenda are pervs. That’s not a smart cookie triangulating; that’s an attack on the base.

If not walked back, it should be as fatal to her presidential aspirations as was Haley Barbour’s recent unpleasantness fatal to his.

boko fittleworth on January 7, 2011 at 4:39 PM

CPAC is somewhat less useful than teats on a boar, for several years now.

It’s more of “happy happy joy joy time” for stealth progressive groups and libertarians trying to redefine conservatism, because they cannot get traction by presenting their ideology honestly.

Rebar on January 7, 2011 at 4:39 PM

I’ve listened to and read Tammy Bruce for more than a few ears now. I’d never label her as a militant lesbian. She’s a self-admitted lesbian, but I’ve never heard her go on a rant similar to the lefties.

She’s ok in my book. Don’t know enough about GOProud to make a call.

TugboatPhil on January 7, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Palin is a smart cookie – she’ll have to take some soft positions like this in order to get elected. Let’s all be smart cookies too and realize that this is a reality.

HondaV65 on January 7, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Retweeting Tammy Bruce’s tweet was very dumb on Sarah Palin’s part.

RedRobin145 on January 7, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Not a huge fan of Keene but CPAC will go on…and continue to get bigger and be successful…it’s much bigger than a few people or a few groups.

DCJeff on January 7, 2011 at 4:52 PM

In other words, Sarah tells us, criticism of the gay agenda is an indicator of perversion. Sarah Palin repeated gay agitprop meant to shut Christians up. She’ll fit right in at the new, fabulous CPAC.

boko fittleworth on January 7, 2011 at 4:16 PM

You actually could interpret the tweet to mean Democrats are the real hypocrites because, while they agitate for the “gay agenda,” they are, according to Tammy Bruce, just using homosexuals as political pawns. I actually do think that’s pretty consistent with other things I have heard Tammy say in the past.

steebo77 on January 7, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Could someone explain to me why the two elements of the “gay agenda” highlighted by GOProud (opposition to DOMA, repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell) are necessarily incompatible with the conservative agenda, as expounded by ACU’s “principles” page? And if they are, does this mean CPAC should expel religious groups that de-emphasize the importance of the free market, or libertarians who support drug legalization?

LockeFox on January 7, 2011 at 5:30 PM

LockeFox, opposition to DOMA and repeal of DADT are incompatible with the conservative agenda. Protection of traditional marriage and the military are fundamental to conservatism. The gay agenda includes undermining both traditional marriage and the military. Don’t kid yourself.

Traditional religious groups are typically very supportive of the free market, albeit not with respect to pornography or drugs. I don’t see a problem there.

Phil Byler on January 7, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Protection of traditional marriage and the military are fundamental to conservatism. The gay agenda includes undermining both traditional marriage and the military. Don’t kid yourself.
Phil Byler on January 7, 2011 at 10:05 PM

The Heritage Foundation has boycotted CPAC according to my understanding. They are one of the most respected conservative groups in the country.

We need to have a word with Allahpundit, if Hot Air starts going too libertarian and supporting this kind of agenda, we’ll vote with our feet here as well.

scotash on January 8, 2011 at 6:06 PM