CPAC Organizer Discloses Embezzlement

David Keene at CPAC/ Flickr /<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/4392532959/">Gage Skidmore</a>

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Someone this week leaked a juicy story to WorldNetDaily indicating that $400,000 in donor funds had been embezzled from the American Conservative Union, an old-line conservative advocacy group that organizes the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The premiere Republican political convention, CPAC is the testing ground for GOP presidential contenders that has been addressed by everyone from Ronald Reagan to Dick Cheney. ACU apparently disclosed the theft in its recent tax filings, noting that it had referred the case to the authorities. WND points out that the nonprofit group’s bookkeeper was the ex-wife of ACU chairman David Keene, and that she had been fired earlier this year.

The story is an especially nasty hit on ACU by an organization that would normally be considered a friend. But not only did the conservative website best known for its regular “birther” updates break the news of the ACU scandal, but WND also took the opportunity to pile on Keene. WND dragged up a host of other scandals from the ACU’s past, including the fact that Keene’s son is serving a 10-year prison sentence for a road rage incident in Virginia in which he fired a gun at another motorist, narrowly missing his head. At the time, David Michael Keene was apparently working for his father at ACU. According to WND, the incident proved even more embarrassing for the elder Keene, who is a high ranking member of the National Rifle Association and currently poised to become its next president. 

It’s unusual for conservatives to air their dirty laundry like this, and it came during a serious internecine ideological battle in the conservative movement that’s largely about gays. Over the past few weeks, CPAC organizers have been fighting over whether or not the gay conservative group GOProud should be allowed to participate in the conference. Last year, CPAC allowed GOProud a table in the exhibit hall, and social conservative groups went bezerk, threatening to boycott. During the conference, a speaker from the California Young Americans for Freedom gave a homophobic rant attacking CPAC for allowing GOProud a spot at the conference. This year, GOProud is looking to be more involved, and again the evangelicals are in a tizzy, threatening to boycott the conference and generally throwing bombs at ACU, which has been putting on the show since the early 1970s.

WND has been right in the middle of that fight. Joseph Farah, WND’s founder, has been raising warning flags about homosexuals infiltrating the conservative movement for a while now, penning outraged editorials about GOProud’s “real agenda.” He organized a counterweight conference to CPAC this fall because of “the conservative movement’s capitulation to the radical homosexual agenda,” from which he disinvited Ann Coulter after she agreed to speak at GOProud’s convention, dubbed “Homocon,” in September. Farah has chastised Keene for promoting Homocon as well. 

WND’s attack on ACU suggests that gay rights are the emerging fault line in the conservative movement, as more libertarian and tea party types accept gays into their ranks and abandon longstanding opposition to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and other elements of that particular culture war. It wouldn’t be surprising if WND’s scoop about the embezzlement came gift-wrapped from an anti-gay movement insider.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate