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Top Republicans Rub Shoulders With Extremists In Secretive Rightwing Groups

Top Republicans rub shoulders with extremists in secretive rightwing group, leak reveals

A leaked document has revealed the membership list of the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP), showing how it provides opportunities for elite Republicans, wealthy entrepreneurs, media proprietors and pillars of the US conservative movement to rub shoulders with anti-abortion and anti-Islamic extremists.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors rightwing hate groups, describes the CNP as “a shadowy and intensely secretive group [which] has operated behind the scenes” in its efforts to “build the conservative movement”.

The leaked membership list dates from September last year, and reveals the 40-year-old CNP put influential Trump administration figures alongside leaders of organizations that have been categorized as hate groups.

The group was founded in 1981 by activists influential in the Christian right, including Tim LaHaye, Howard Phillips and Paul Weyrich, who had also been involved in founding and leading the Moral Majority. Initially they were seeking to maximize their influence on the new Reagan administration. In subsequent years, CNP meetings have played host to presidential aspirants like George W Bush and 1999 and Mitt Romney in 2007, and sitting presidents including Donald Trump in 2020.

In videos obtained by the Washington Post in 2020, the CNP executive committee chairman, Bill Walton, told attendees of the upcoming election: “This is a spiritual battle we are in. This is good versus evil.”

The CNP is so secretive, according to reports, that its members are instructed not to reveal their affiliation or even name the group.

Heidi Beirich, of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said in an email that “this new CNP list makes clear that the group still serves as a key venue where mainstream conservatives and extremists mix”, adding that CNP “clearly remains a critical nexus for mainstreaming extremism from the far right into conservative circles”.

The document – which reveals email addresses and phone numbers for most members – shows that the CNP includes members of SPLC-listed hate groups.

They include leaders of organizations listed as anti-Muslim hate groups, including:

  • Frank Gaffney, founder and executive chairman of the Center for Security Policy (CSP)
  • Brigitte Gabriel, founder and chairman of Act For America (AFA)

They also include several founders or leaders of groups listed anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups, such as:

  • Michael P Farris, president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)
  • Brad Dacus, founder and president of the Pacific Justice Institute
  • Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council
  • Matthew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel
  • Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association

Also, there are members of organizations listed as anti-immigrant hate groups, including James and Amapola Hansberger, co-founders of Legal Immigrants For America (Lifa).

Additionally, the list includes members of groups that have been accused of extremist positions on abortion. They include Margaret H Hartshorn, chair of the board of Heartbeat International, which has reportedly spread misinformation worldwide to pregnant women.

Several high-profile figures associated with the Trump administration, or conspiracy-minded characters in Trump’s orbit, are also on the list, such as Jerome R Corsi, who has written conspiracy-minded books about John Kerry, Barack Obama and the September 11 attacks. Corsi is listed as a member of CNP’s board of governors.

Along with these representatives of extremist positions, the CNP rolls include members of ostensibly more mainstream conservative groups, and representatives of major American corporations. Other still come from the Republican party, a network of rightwing activist organizations, and the companies and foundations that back them.

A newcomer to the group since a previous version of the member list was exposed is Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a conservative youth organization.

Although TPUSA works hard to make inroads into mainstream culture with stunts and on-campus events, Kirk has recently staked out more hard-right positions, saying recently that Democratic immigration policies were aimed at “diminishing and decreasing white demographics in America”, a day after Tucker Carlson ventilated racist “great replacement” conspiracy theories on his Fox News program.

The CNP is so secretive, reports say, that members are told not to reveal their affiliation or name the group

Conservative movement heavyweights in the group include Lisa B Nelson, chief executive of the American Legislative Exchange Council; Eugene Mayer, president of the Federalist Society; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Return; Daniel Schneider, executive director of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the CPac conference; and L Brent Bozell III, the founder of the Media Research Center and a member of the Bozell and Buckley dynasties of conservative activists.

Other members include pillars of the Republican political establishment, including former GOP congressional majority leader, Tom DeLay; former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker; Reagan administration attorney general Edwin Meese III; and former RNC chair and Trump White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Their number also includes sitting congressmen such as Barry Loudermilk and influential operatives like David Trulio, who was the senior adviser and chief of staff to the under-secretary of defense in the Trump administration.

The member list also includes representatives of major US corporations, such as Marc Johansen, vice-president for the satellites and intelligence program for Boeing; Jeffrey Coors, of the Coors brewing family, who have extensively sponsored conservative groups; Lee Roy Mitchell, the founder and chairman of the board for movie chain owner Cinemark Holdings; Steve Forbes, the founder and chief executive of the Forbes business media empire; and Scott Brown, a senior vice-president at Morgan Stanley.

Other members of the group represent organizations that operate under a veil of secrecy, with conservative “dark money” organizations well represented.

One member, Lawson Bader, is the president of Donor’s Trust and Donors Capital Fund, non-profits that disguise the identities of their own donors, and whose largesse to rightwing causes has seen them described as “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement”.

Another member, Richard Graber, is the president and chief executive of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. The Bradley foundation has long bankrolled conservative movement causes, including Donors Trust, and has reportedly also sponsored widespread efforts to discredit the election of Joe Biden in 2020.

Conservative media figures are also on the list: Neil Patel, co-founder and publisher of the Daily Caller; Larry Beasley, chief executive of the rightwing newspaper the Washington Times; and Floyd Brown, the founder of the Arizona-based Western Journal and founder of the Citizens United Pac.

Pro-gun groups are also represented, with NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre and Gun Owners of America founder Tim Macy each listed as members.

The 220-page document – which includes a statement of principles and an indication of members’ policy interests alongside a complete member list – was leaked and provided to journalists via transparency organization, Distributed Denial of Secrets.

Emma Best from that group said in a messenger chat that CNP was “a secretive forum for ultra-wealthy and elite conservatives to strategize and form long-term plans that have national and international impact”. Therefore, she said, “any opportunity to shine a light on their members, activities and interests is clearly in the public interest”.

The Guardian repeatedly requested comment from CNP staff, including Executive Director Brad McEwen, and other groups mentioned in this story but received no immediate response.

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Ondo Govt reacts to court judgement declaring new LCDAs ‘illegal’

The Ondo State Government says necessary legal action will be taken on the judgement nullifying the creation of the 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state.

The government’s reaction is contained in a statement by the Attorney General of Ondo State, Mr Kayode Ajulo SAN, made available to  newsmen on Friday in Akure.

Justice A.O Adebusuoye of the state High Court had in a judgement on Thursday described the creation of the LCDAs as unlawful.

The court said it was illegal for a governor to sign a law outside the State.

The court said that the Local Government Creation Law 2023 signed by the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Ibadan was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The statement said the government has taken cognizance of Ondo State High Court’s judgement and had requested for a Certified True Copy of it.

Ajulo said after it was studied and analysed, a legal opinion would be presented to the state government.

“Subsequently, all necessary measures, in accordance with our laws, will be taken to safeguard the interests of our citizens, foster peaceful coexistence, and uphold the rule of law.

“The Attorney General remains steadfast in his commitment to prioritizing the well-being and welfare of our citizens, working tirelessly to ensure that justice and the law are served,” the statement said.

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LASTMA impounds 40 vehicles in Oyingbo, ijora, idumota axis

The  Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has impounded another 25 commercial and 15 private vehicles operating illegal garages and causing serious road obstructions around Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota areas of  Lagos.

Mr Taofiq Adebayo, Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, said this in a statement on Friday in Lagos.

Adebayo said impounding the vehicles at these areas was a decisive move by LASTMA to restore order and ensure the free flow of traffic.

He said the operation was led by LASTMA Head of Enforcement, Mr Kayode Odunuga, under the directives of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa.

Adebayo that they were specifically directed to target illegal garages that had been a persistent source of congestion and inconvenience for residents and commuters.

He said the impoundment, which began in recent weeks, was part of a broader initiative by the  Lagos State Government to enhance the efficiency of the city’s transportation network.

He quoted Giwa as emphasising that government is committed to maintaining law and order on the roads, ensuring that all traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

“illegal garages have been a significant challenge in our quest to maintain a seamless traffic flow in Lagos.

“These impoundments send a strong message to all offenders that the state will not tolerate activities that disrupt public order and endanger the lives of our citizens.

“Our goal is to create a safe and orderly environment for all road users and this action is a crucial step in that direction,” Giwa said.

He noted that the targeted areas, Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota, are known hotspots for traffic congestion due to unauthorised parking and the establishment of makeshift garages.

He said that these activities not only obstruct the free movement of vehicles but also pose safety risks to pedestrians.

“LASTMA’s intervention aims to clear these bottlenecks and enhance the overall traffic situation in these critical areas.

“Residents and business owners have expressed their support for the government’s action, noting the positive impact it will have on their daily activities.

“LASTMA has also assured the public that the operation will be sustained and extended to other parts of the city where illegal garages and related activities are prevalent,” he quoted Giwa as saying.

He urged all vehicle owners and operators to adhere to the state’s traffic regulations and cooperate with authorities to avoid sanctions.

He reiterated that the government’s primary objective was to create a better and more livable Lagos for everyone.

He also urged motorists to take ownership of the roads and to promptly inform LASTMA of any broken down or abandoned trailers or trucks via the Agency’s hotlines: 0810056586008129928503.

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Emir of Ilorin commiserates with Saraki over mother’s death

Nigeria in very bad shape, only PDP can rebuild it —Saraki

Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, has commiserated with a former Senate President,  Dr Bukola Saraki, over the death of his mother, Mrs Florence Saraki.

This is contained in a condolence message issued by the emir’s Spokesman, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, on Wednesday in Ilorin.

Mrs Saraki died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

Sulu-Gambari described the deceased as a wonderful mother, great philanthropist and virtuous wife to  Dr Olusola Saraki, the late Waziri of Ilorin, whose contributions to humanity would forever be remembered.

According to him, the deceased lived a fulfilled life, with numerous accomplishments.

The royal father urged Saraki, a two-term governor of Kwara, and his siblings to be strong in heart over the demise of their beloved mother.

Sulu-Gambari, who is also the Chairman of Kwara Traditional Rulers’ Council, extended his condolences to both the immediate and extended family members of the Saraki dynasty.

“I pray that Almighty Allah grants the family and friends the fortitude to bear the great loss,” he said.

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