Back in December, I heard rumors that the Heritage Foundation was passing on participation in CPAC because of the participation of the gay Republican group GOProud. I asked Heritage spokespeople, who said it was a pure financial decision. CPAC director Lisa De Pasquale told me that "they haven't registered for CPAC, but have not communicated any reason why."
But the rumor hasn't died. The Washington Times reported yesterday on what WorldNetDaily has been reporting for two months -- an effort by social conservatives to stage showy boycotts of CPAC, to protest GOProud. The goal, in part, was to get the media to cover a "rift," and it's working. The Times lists "social-issues groups opting to avoid the conference" and includes "the Heritage Foundation, the Family Research Council, the Center for Military Readiness, the American Family Association, the American Principles Project, the Liberty Counsel and the National Organization for Marriage." As I've reported before, the FRC didn't actually participate in CPAC last year, nor did the AFA, and they run their own social conservative conference.
It's wrong, though, to add Heritage to the list of GOProud-squeamish groups. They told me in December that the decision was financial, and they say the same thing today. The trick that social conservatives are able to play is that there has long been unease among conservatives about the American Conservative Union in general and David Keene in particular. In December, the ACU didn't comment on an IRS investigation of a "material diversion" of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Before that, Sarah Palin passed on the conference, in part, because the ACU hinted that it could take money for its support to Fed Ex in a legislative battle with UPS (you've probably heard of the "brown bailout" by now). That's why some D.C. conservative groups balk at the ACU, and some social conservatives are exploiting that to make there seem like there's more outrage over GOProud than there is. (There is some outrage, definitely.)
Case in point: the e-mail from Tony Perkins and the FRC , explaining why they're not going to CPAC.
For the last few years, the conference -- which used to embody the core of the conservative movement -- has pulled up a chair at the family table for people working to advance the policy goals of the radical Left. Lobbyists for amnesty, the ACLU, legalized marijuana, same-sex "marriage," and Internet gambling have called CPAC home for the last several years.
didn't participate in CPAC last year
-- something unmentioned here, as the impression is given that FRC is taking a new stand. The e-mail was sent after the Washington Times story, so it's clearly capitalizing on that.