October 15, 2020

In a jaw-dropping article, The Post reported on videos “covering dozens of hours” of meetings of the Council for National Policy, a little-known group of extremely influential conservative activists and donors.

The “white people have lost their voice” quote came from Carol Swain, a Black author and former professor. She also likened Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan.

As horrifying as her remarks were, they were not as potentially consequential as some of the others reported on by The Post:

[A] fresh-faced Republican activist named Charlie Kirk stepped into the spotlight at a closed-door gathering of leading conservatives and shared his delight about an impact of the coronavirus pandemic: the disruption of America’s universities. So many campuses had closed, he said, that up to a half-million left-leaning students probably would not vote.
“So, please keep the campuses closed,” Kirk, 26, said in August as the audience cheered, according to video of the event obtained by The Washington Post. “Like, it’s a great thing.”

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, told attendees that same day that the left is “war-gaming” a plan to delay the election tally until Jan. 20, 2021, and enable House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to become acting president. “This is kind of like crazy talk” among political people, Fitton said. But he added: “This is not an insignificant concern.”

Expressing concern about voter fraud and disenfranchisement, Fitton called on the audience to find a way to prevent mail-in ballots from being sent to voters. “We need to stop those ballots from going out, and I want the lawyers here to tell us what to do,” said Fitton, whose organization is a tax-exempt charity. “But this is a crisis that we’re not prepared for. I mean, our side is not prepared for.”

These are no fringers, but powerful people at the heart of today's conservative movement. Their members include Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a ringleader of a Trump loyalty operation known as “Groundswell” and Leonard Leo, the right-wing's SCOTUS picker.

In February, during three days of meetings in Southern California, a CNP member named Rachel Bovard described the Conservative Action Project’s influence in helping the Trump administration select political appointees for the executive branch. She said the Conservative Action Project coordinated closely on these and other efforts with CNP members and the Conservative Partnership Institute, a tax-exempt charity run by former senator and tea party leader Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

“We work very closely — CAP does and then we at CPI also — with the Office of Presidential Personnel at the White House to try and get good conservatives in the positions because we see what happens when we don’t vet these people,” she said.

The Post also noted that the “partisan commentary and election-related discussions” involved members of tax-exempt charities, which are not allowed to support political candidates.

Two tax law specialists who viewed hours of video at The Post’s request said some of the remarks and planning on the videos could be improper for the groups that are registered with the IRS as charities.

“What was jarring was that it was pretty clear to any reasonable observer that the entire purpose of the panel was to help the Republican Party win in November, up and down the ticket,” said Roger Colinvaux, director of law and public policy at Catholic University’s law school, referring to a panel about health care.

Marcus Owens, a lawyer who led the Exempt Organizations Division at the IRS from 1990 to 2000, told The Post that participants’ comments on the videos raise potential issues of compliance with election laws and charity rules. “I’ve never seen anything like it on videotape and live,” Owens said, referring to the overt partisan coordination among the nonprofit leaders. “It’s almost like a movie.”

Oh, and many of them violated the state’s mask mandate, too.

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