This post has been updated
In what is becoming an annual tradition, the American Conservative Union has accepted the sponsorship of an organization led by a white nationalist.
Metro Weekly reported yesterday that the Log Cabin Republicans attempted to sponsor the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference, but were rejected. Although the ACU disputes the story, in the past it has repeatedly excluded the now defunct gay conservative group GOProud. [UPDATE: Log Cabin Republicans report that they have been offered a speaking slot at CPAC, while they will “continue working toward full sponsorship of future CPACs.”]
At the same time, the ACU has repeatedly allowed white nationalists to present at and sponsor CPAC. In 2010, CPAC welcomed the sponsorship of the John Birch Society. In 2012, it hosted a panel on the “failure of multiculturalism” featuring John Derbyshire, Peter Brimelow and Robert Vandervoort, three of the most unabashedly racist voices on the Right, who were joined by Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa. Vandervoort shared the stage on another panel with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the GOP’s most influential anti-immigrant strategists. Then, in 2013 and 2014, Vandervoort’s group ProEnglish was a sponsor of the conference.
This year, it appears that ProEnglish is once again sponsoring CPAC. Although the group is not listed on the event’s website, it is included on a longer list of sponsors on the event’s mobile phone app.
UPDATE: Here is a screenshot showing that ProEnglish will be sponsoring a booth at CPAC’s exhibit hall, at a cost of $4,000:
Along with leading ProEnglish — a nativist group founded by John Tanton that seeks to establish English as the official language of the U.S. — Vandervoort has a background as a white nationalist leader. The Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights reported in 2012 that Vandervoort was “the organizer of the white nationalist group, Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, while he lived in Illinois”:
During that period Vandervoort was at the center of much of the white nationalist activity in the region. While he was in charge, Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance often held joint meetings with the local chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens. He also made appearances at white nationalist events outside Illinois, for instance participating in the 2009 Preserving Western Civilization Conference.
Vandervoort’s position at ProEnglish is not surprising, given his familiarity with the Nativist Establishment. He and several Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance members attended a March 22, 2005 Federation for American Immigration Reform meeting at the Lincoln Restaurant in Chicago. At a November 13, 2004 FAIR “Midwest Immigration Reform Summit” in Rosemont, Illinois, Vandervoort attended and passed out leaflets to the crowd announcing a local American Renaissance event.
IREHR has more on Vandervoort here.
Although ProEnglish stays away from the outright white nationalism of Vandervoort’s past, it thrives on nativist fear-mongering. In 2013, ProEnglish ran a nasty anti-immigrant ad against South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, which featured the voice of a woman “translating” a message from an “illegal immigrant”:
In addition to ProEnglish, CPAC has welcomed the sponsorship of anti-gay groups including the Family Research Council, theNational Organization for Marriage, Eagle Forum and Tradition, Family and Property, which at last year’s CPAC distributed a pamphlet depicting GOProud as a rainbow-colored beaver gnawing through the social issues leg of the conservative movement.