A Rare Peek Inside the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy - 2022-08-26
For more than four decades, the Council for National Policy, or CNP, has functioned as the secret hub of the radical right, coordinating the activities of right-wing strategists, donors, media platforms, and activists. Its membership and meetings have long been undisclosed, but over the past two years, a number of them have been brought to light. It has spawned generations of offshoots, which appear, disappear, alter URLs, and change names with astonishing frequency. Now two watchdog organizations have obtained new materials on the group's current operations.
The Center for Media and Democracy has published the agenda for a recent CNP meeting, held February 22 to 24 at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, California. In addition, Documented, an investigative watchdog and journalism project based in Washington, D.C., has obtained the membership roster and most recent 990 tax filings required of nonprofit organizations. Together, the materials shed new light on the CNP's role in disrupting the democratic process. CNP archives illustrate the extensive planning its members undertook to discredit the 2020 election results, undermine local election officials, and incite the protest on January 6, 2021. The House select committee on January 6 has subpoenaed CNP election expert Cleta Mitchell, and the panel is also examining 29 texts exchanged between then–White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Supreme Court spouse Ginni Thomas (a board member of the CNP's lobbying arm) in support of Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the election. The Conservative Partnership Institute, which has attracted ample attention for its role in election subversion, is closely tied to the CNP, though few reporters have made the connection. The CPI's chairman, president and CEO, senior legal partner, and senior director of policy are all prominent members of the CNP (see below), and the CPI has served as a public face for CNP tactics developed behind closed doors.
Until now, the most recent CNP membership roster that was publicly available was dated October 2020. One can observe significant turnover from meeting to meeting, while various core donors and leaders remain constant. Reading the tea leaves, this shift suggests several possibilities. First, the rosters may indicate only the attendees of a particular meeting, while the broader membership might be much larger. Second, the new names on the February 2022 agenda may represent new approaches for the organization's strategy. Below, I draw attention to some of the more striking developments in CNP's leadership and membership, in the agenda, and in CNP's funding.