Another indicator of the changing of the guard in Washington came yesterday as dozens of representatives and leaders from conservative groups convened for a private meeting in the suburbs of Virginia. Representatives of a wide variety of Tea Party groups, mainstream conservative think tanks and right-wing media outlets came together to talk about the future of the conservative movement, TPMmuckraker has learned.
The agenda indicates that they attempted to hash out some of their priorities for the legislative agenda in the upcoming Congress, which will feature a GOP-controlled House for the first time in four years.
The hush-hush meeting was sponsored by the Conservative Action Project (CAP), an offshoot of the Council for National Policy.
Reagan-era Attorney General Ed Meese, the head of the CAP (not to be confused with the liberal Center for American Progress), was scheduled to address the summit, which drew attendees with speeches from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-GA). Press secretaries for both members did not respond to requests for comment about their remarks.
Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway was also on the Conservative Leadership Summit agenda, along with Edwin Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, and former Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.). Press representatives for Conway and Feulner did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment, but a secretary for McIntosh confirmed that he was speaking at the summit.
A group discussion was to focus on the outcome of the election and the future of the conservative movement. Attendees were also invited to discuss economic, social and national security issues, judicial nominations and state elections and issues.
Organizations scheduled to be represented at the meeting included the National Organization for Marriage, the Media Research Center, Susan B. Anthony List, the Heritage Foundation, 60 Plus Association, the Federalist Society, the Family Research Council, Americans for Tax Reform, Concerned Women for America and the Tea Party Patriots.
Employees of the American Spectator, the Washington Examiner and Human Events were also invited, as were John Fund of the Wall Street Journal and Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online (Lopez told TPMmuckraker she did not end up attending).
Republican House and Senate staffers from the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Republican Conference made the guest list alongside conservative luminaries like Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Republican super-lawyer Cleta Mitchell, ATR’s Grover Norquist, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, RNC chair candidate Ken Blackwell, American Values President Gary Bauer and David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union.
Frank Gaffney, the president of the right-wing Center for Security Policy who has raised fears over the imposition of Sharia law in America, attended the meeting, his secretary confirmed.
Kevin Gentry of Koch Industries — the oil and gas company which has funded Tea Party groups — was also invited, but declined to tell TPMmuckraker whether he attended, instead referring calls to Koch’s PR shop.
Patrick Pizzella, a former Bush administration official who is the only paid member of the Conservative Action Project, was out of the office and at a CAP event, according to the individual who picked up his phone. An e-mail to Pizzella was not immediately returned.