Sad CPAC Can't Sell Tickets To Loser Prom Without The King Of Sore Losers At The Top Of The Bill
Matt Schlapp speaking with attendees at the 2… | Flickr

Sucks to be CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference! They put all their chips on a would-be tinpot dictator, and he can't even bothered to get off his ass and show up at their party. No, not even when the pandemic he invited in to ravage the country forces them to abandon DC for the hinterlands of Orlando, just down the road from his diaspora White House. And with the main attraction MIA, it's hard to get sponsors and A-listers (or what passes for such in the wingnutosphere) to show up.

But don't worry. American Conservative Union head Matt Schlapp, a consummate media professional, knows who is to blame. And it is ... Politico.

ACU chairman Matt Schlapp said he is convinced this year's conference will be no different from past years. "CPAC is going great," he told POLITICO on Tuesday, before then saying that his quote needed to be attributed without his name. Schlapp did not address questions about why some sponsors were not continuing their CPAC sponsorship. But after those questions were posed and additional questions were sent to CPAC sponsors — including whether the Jan. 6 Capitol riots impacted their thinking about sponsoring again this year — ACU General Counsel David Safavian accused POLITICO of "tortious interference with business relationships" and attempting "to 'cancel' both CPAC and the American Conservative Union itself." The group then tweeted a copy of a letter from Safavian that included a litigation threat.

"In pushing a misleading narrative to our supporters using corporate resources, Politico is attempting to chill sponsorship of CPAC and harm the American Conservative Union," ACU General Counsel David Safavian said in a letter he sent to Politico's CEO and editor in chief and then immediately tweeted. "This effort amounts to tortious interference with business relationships. And whether you realize it or not, you are demonstrating to our sponsors and supporters your political bias. Fortunately, most see this effort for what it is: 'fake news.'"

BIG TALK from a conservative gathering whose main attractions so far are Ric Grenell and Kristi Noem.

The trouble started when Politico reporters Gabby Orr and Daniel Lippman started calling around to see who would be showing up for the February 25-28 GOP White Grievance Jamboree. DC and Maryland's COVID restrictions forced the gathering to decamp for Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis's two-step pandemic strategy (pretend everything's normal, lock up data scientists) allows the ACU to host the superspreader events they prefer.

But unlike last year when he delivered a 90-minute stemwinder, the former president hasn't committed to making an appearance at the Hyatt Orlando. Mike Pence is problematic, what with half the base wanting to murder him for failing to shitcan the Electoral College. Even Don Jr., the second choice for MAGAts everywhere, is still on the fence. Will these bowtied kids have to make do with the lesser Trumps? Eric, or Lara, or even Tiffany?

Cripes! Who's going to pony up cash for that? Shit, you might as well tack up a wall of Trump signs and hold it in the Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot. Maybe the dildo shop will let 'em use its coffee room for breakout sessions.

CPAC says it will post a full list of the stars from the conservative firmament gracing its podium in two or three weeks. But Politico reports that sponsors are skeptical about the value of forking over cash to post banners in an empty hall.

As for this year's sponsors, some of whom spent as much as $250,000 in past years for exclusive benefits and branding opportunities, several said they were still evaluating the benefits or had decided not to sponsor at all due to mediocre returns on the investment or changes to the conference structure. Gryphon Editions operations manager Michael Hawkins said his company did not plan to sponsor the conference this year after being informed that the CPAC bookstore, which has been set up for attendees in past years, would no longer be available due to Covid-19 precautions.

"They don't want everybody huddling around," Hawkins said.

Laura Merriott, president of the anti-abortion nonprofit Save Unborn Life, said her group "didn't get much response [from] donors last time" after paying between $1,000-$3,000 for a sponsorship and creating a pop-up exhibition.

"It doesn't pay for itself when you go and set up and you don't get" enough new donors to make it worthwhile, she said.

Turning Points USA, the Heartland Institute, and the Washington Examiner were still mulling it over, while the head of WinRed (the GOP's ActBlue knockoff) texted, "I didn't even know they were having a CPAC this year."

Even the RNC hasn't committed to kick up cash yet. Et tu Rona?

This is obviously Politico's fault, because asking questions about the event is exactly the same as initiating a Sleeping Giants-style boycott campaign. Which would be entirely legal, BTW! Just like it's legal to collect a $750,000 fee to lobby the White House for a pardon, even if that pardon never comes through. Just ask Matt Schlapp.

"There was a time when the American Conservative Union and Politico had a professional relationship — one in which your reporters actually covered CPAC rather than worked to sabotage it," Safavian wrote. "Although the American Conservative Union would rather find a solution that results in 'accurate, non-partisan' reporting again, we fully intend to explore our legal rights to hold Politico fully accountable for what we see is tortious conduct." [Emphasis original.]

Ooooooh, you know Politico is a-shakin' in their boots!


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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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