Accuracy in Media

Donald J. Trump has been pouring tens of thousands of dollars into the coffers of the American Conservative Union (ACU), the sponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). But the financial bribes went for nothing, as Trump cancelled his CPAC speech last Saturday amid reports that hundreds of conservatives were preparing to turn their backs and walk out on the billionaire businessman’s remarks.

The reason for the threatened walkout was apparent in the results of the CPAC straw poll, a survey of CPAC participants, showing Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in first place with 40 percent, Senator Marco Rubio second with 30 percent, and Trump getting only 15 percent.

Trump’s massive financial investment in the ACU and its chairman, lobbyist Matt Schlapp, didn’t pay off in the end.

However, if Trump divides the Republican Party this fall, leading to a Democratic presidential victory, part of the blame will clearly lie with Schlapp and his predecessor Al Cardenas, who cultivated Trump as a major donor to the ACU and made him out to be a legitimate conservative candidate. Cardenas is now a lobbyist with the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs and Cardenas Partners.

CPAC is considered the major gathering for conservatives in the United States and draws thousands from around the country, and even the world. Ronald Reagan spoke to the group before and after he was president. A Reagan dinner featuring a major conservative speaker is now held at every CPAC to highlight the former president’s support for the organization and Reagan’s status in the conservative movement.

This year’s CPAC poll found that 66 percent of the participants consider themselves classical Reagan conservatives, as opposed to libertarian conservatives (28 percent) and Trump-like populist conservatives (6 percent).

Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from CPAC—which made news across the country—was a major embarrassment for ACU chairman Schlapp, who has been appearing on various cable news programs over the last several months to tout Trump as a legitimate conservative and even a “plausible” president of the United States. “American Conservative Union leader defends Donald Trump” is how The Washington Post described some of Schlapp’s comments in defense of Trump against charges of racism. “I actually know Donald Trump,” Schlapp claimed, a statement we now know was based on visits to Trump Tower in New York City and meetings with Trump and his political aides.

But that personal relationship didn’t seem to matter much with the conservative audience at CPAC, who were looking for someone like Reagan, with conservative views on foreign policy, economic affairs and social policy. Trump just didn’t measure up.

As Accuracy in Media (AIM) had previously reported in a column on the buying of the conservative movement, Trump had given $50,000 to the ACU, part of an obvious process to make the billionaire look acceptable to conservatives and grant him some much-needed conservative credentials. It was Schlapp, according to the publication Politico, who had personally collected that $50,000 check from Trump for the ACU. Another $100,000 for the ACU was obtained from Trump by previous ACU chairman Cardenas.

“For Trump, the alliance [with the ACU] provided valuable entry into conservative circles as he was just beginning to increase his political profile,” Politico reported. “And, since he launched his campaign, the group and its officials had been among the few high-profile conservatives who have regularly vouched for him.”

In other words, the ACU sold Trump to conservatives as one of them.

However, Politico reported that “some ACU insiders” were upset “about how ACU leadership had gone out on a limb for Trump early, even as the relationship played into problematic narratives for both sides.”

Politico said that Schlapp, who is also a Capitol Hill lobbyist, had been invited to meet with the Trump campaign’s staff at its headquarters inside Manhattan’s Trump Tower. Schlapp and ACU executive director Dan Schneider went to Trump Tower on two separate occasions, the publication said. It is not clear if the substance of these discussions was reported back to the board of the ACU.

The ACU had declared Trump “an American patriot” in 2013, when he addressed CPAC. “Donald Trump is an American patriot and success story with a massive following among small government conservatives,” said then-ACU Chairman Cardenas.

It looked like a case of money changing hands in return for some glowing remarks designed to make Trump look like a conservative.

Trump’s speech to CPAC in 2011 was described by CNN as setting off “a long chain of events that would lead to his status as the Republican Party presidential front-runner just four years later.”

So ACU has played a key role in the “extreme makeover” that transformed Trump from a liberal Democrat into a conservative Republican.

Cardenas successor Matt Schlapp is an example of the “revolving door” between the government and politics. He has worked for Koch Industries and served in the George W. Bush administration before starting his own lobbying firm with his wife, Mercedes. She, too, assumed a significant role in last week’s CPAC activities and has achieved a degree of media prominence as a Fox News contributor during the campaign.

As we previously noted, Schlapp’s service in the George W. Bush administration must have made him feel uncomfortable when Trump, at a GOP debate, accused Bush of deliberately lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

While currying favor with the ACU through a total of $150,000 in donations, Trump gave at least $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. His Donald J. Trump Foundation gave $20,000 to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a major gay rights group described by Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth as pushing for “the acceptance of homosexual, bisexual and gender-confused identities and behaviors to K-12 students—including ‘Gay-Straight Alliances,’ de facto LGBT propaganda clubs, in schools.”

Trump’s support for gay rights is beginning to get some media attention. The left-wing cable network MSNBC has run a story wondering if Trump is 2016’s most gay-friendly Republican.

In a 2000 interview with the homosexual magazine, The Advocate, Trump supported adding homosexuality to the Civil Rights Act and attacked conservative writer and former GOP presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan. “I used to like Pat. I was on Crossfire with him,” he said, referring to the CNN show Buchanan once co-hosted. “I thought he was a nice guy. Then I read the things he had written about Hitler, Jews, blacks, gays, and Mexicans. I mean, I think it’s disgusting. That speech he made at the ’92 Republican convention was a disaster. He wants to divide Americans. Clearly, he has a love affair with Adolf Hitler, and that’s sick. Buchanan actually said gay people had chosen ‘satan[ism] and suicide.’ Now he says he welcomes gay people into his campaign. The guy is a hypocrite.”

Buchanan, however, doesn’t hold a grudge, as he has become one of Trump’s strongest supporters in the conservative media. “He is a messenger from Middle America,” Buchanan wrote about Trump. “And the message he is delivering to the establishment is: We want an end to your policies and we want an end to you.” Buchanan concluded, “If the elites think they can not only deny Trump the nomination, but turn back this revolution and re-establish themselves in the esteem of the people, they delude themselves.”

Trump has generated a cult-like following, and has even asked his backers to swear their support by raising their right hands in a pledge of support. “Supernatural powers are behind Trump, as well as the American people who are for the first time in decades hearing the voice who resonates with them,” says columnist Kelleigh Nelson at the website Paul Walter, senior editor of the pro-Trump website, says, “I love Trump, who I believe is a decent man with a heart of gold. I know without a shadow of a doubt that he is the only one who can save what’s left of my beloved America.” Walter has censored columnists for the site who have pointed out Trump’s erratic and strange beliefs, such as support for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Walter has also said, “Mr. Trump is the only hope for America. I hope that all his planes, helicopters, automobiles are guarded around the clock not only with cameras but also with trusted personnel to make sure nothing is planted on them. I would also recommend when it comes to grocery shopping that the groceries come from different places all the time, never the same place twice in a row. Not to be paranoid of course, but one cannot be too careful. We live in dangerous times and what’s at stake is our beloved America, the only hope for the free world.”

Supernatural or not, conservative journalist Fred Barnes told CPAC that many traditional Reagan-type conservatives just won’t support Trump for president if he is the Republican nominee. The problem, he said, goes far beyond the harshness of Trump’s rhetoric and approach.  It’s that Trump “doesn’t know much” about the issues, Barnes said. “He can’t explain how he would replace Obamacare. On foreign policy, he’s completely at sea. He wants to be Vladimir Putin’s pal. He wants to be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians. And on and on and on.   There are so many issues on which Trump finds a ton of objections by people in the conservative orbit and the Republican Party.”

Barnes said conservatives will run their own third party conservative candidate if Trump gets the GOP presidential nomination. In that case, he said, the Republican vote will split and Hillary Clinton will win the presidency.

CPAC could very well end up in the rubble or the ash heap, unless new and truly conservative leadership for the ACU is found, and an inquiry is launched into how the ACU ended up in Trump’s back pocket.

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  • Robert McAdam

    Putin should be a major US ally. Trump is correct about that.

  • RightVote

    the ACU /CPAC the Republican GOP Establishment…………..
    It’s only about MONEY !……Just Follow the Money !
    The American People….let them be damned.

  • Choosing a Left wing source for information (Politico) on anything is troubling to me. Trump is definitely not a Conservative,but does Cliff really believe a Reagan conservative can win in modern socialist Amerika anymore ? That ship has sailed and someone like Cruz (though I like him) would find a very difficult path to defeat Hillary and I believe he would be Goldwater 2. Trump may not be a conservative,but if the GOP would support him then they could use leverage with him on election to office. The path they have chosen leaves them in complete defeat even if Hillary goes down. Biden or Gore or whoever would have the communist lockstep in fold and win !! The Conservative movement is either in an unrealistic Reagan era vision mode which cannot win in this day and age or there are phony conmen conservatives like Romney who have taken the mantle and are faking the electorate. A leader that can win and beat the Democrats is Trump and by dissing him is giving the SCOTUS and freedom from government to Communists. This IS MORE DESPICABLE than anything Trump would do. So, if you would rather have Communism, then drink more of this KOOLAID. Even “conservative” Bill Kristol said he’d vote Hillary !!! This is complete Bulls*** if Liberal Republicratic Romney is your spokesman. WAKE UP

  • Glenn Turner

    This is just a hit piece on Trump. Very disappointing and unfair, surprised to see such crap form a supposedly fair group.

  • jug

    While I do believe Trump means well, he would be a dissaster as president!

    IF, he could beat the Hilda Beast, Sanders or Old Joe, which he cant, wouldnt even be close!

    The ACU allowed and encouraged him to buy his way into the conservative movement, while he was also donating almost as much to the Clinton Foundation!

  • Judy Smith

    Trump is not dividing the Republican Party. The Republican Party establishment elite is doing that. Trump is bringing in more Republican’s and bringing over Independents and moderate Democrats. He also got the Hispanic vote in Nevada and has been endorced by the first president of the NAACP as well as the Black Republican Organization. The party elite are doing all they can to stop Trump because they can’t control him and he will stop their corruption in Washington. They are sp afraid of him that they are willing to break the party and give the election to a Democrat so liberals can stack our Supreme Court with Obama and his ideology. The elite don’t care about the will of the people.

  • kuhnkat

    “The problem, he said, goes far beyond the harshness of Trump’s rhetoric and approach. It’s that Trump “doesn’t know much” about the issues, Barnes said. “He can’t explain how he would replace Obamacare. ”

    Excellent example of Pot and Kettle. Real Conservatives know you do NOT REPLACE Obamacare. Replacing it is still BIG GUBMINT!!! At the worst you move the programs to the State level where they will kill them or fiddle them all they want…

  • jim Lyons

    Boo Hoo! The party “big shots” are upset because they can’t get the Repulblican voters to accept their candidate, Times are changing and we don’t need the NRC and others lead us by the nose. Go Trump!!

  • jug

    While I actually think Trump means well, he would be a dissaster as president!
    Tottally unstable, numerous positions on everything, sometimes even in the same day!

    And he cant beat Hillary or Sanders in any case! Loses, 30/50 or so to each!
    Just isnt going to happen, the “stay homes”, will outnumber Romney’s by close to ten times!

    The ACU encouraged him to buy into the Conservative movement, $150,000, even while he was donating almost as much, $100,000, to the Clinton Foundation!

    Bought his way from liberal democrat, to Conservative?
    While still taking a “good drag”, from his old habit?

    He thinks that he is Putins buddy, while his Russian investments actually make him “Putin’s bitch!” No better than obutthole there!

  • Jerry

    Trump is the Strongest Leader, He has shown That. The Conservatives have finally joined the Rino’s, Trump is more conservative than That. Trump will be our next President

  • sybarite123

    IMO Putin is the most honest and most Christian World Leader today. Listen to Iben Thranholm, a Danish Catholic Journalist-Theologian, as she describes Russia an the New West.
    Cheers! A retired Catholic priest in Canada.

  • Walker

    He Cliff, your bias is showing, I thought a journalist was supposed to just give the facts. You have inserted your personal and insulting opinion into the article. You are wrong, just as CPAC has been wrong on who they pick every year. I just added you to my list of writers that I do not respect or trust.
    Go Trump!!

  • Walker

    You need to research the facts about his donations instead of listening to lying Ted Cruz. Cruz has already proved that he will lie, in Iowa. Also he continues to send out lies and misinformation through the mail. I got one of his LYING brochures last week.

  • RMThoughts

    At CPAC, where Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, gave a speech and received a standing ovation from “conservatives” in the audience.

    The “conservative” audience stood and cheered for a former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a federal “Budget Expert”, who only two months ago spearheaded the passage of an Omnibus Spending Bill giving the government unlimited spending and elimination of the debt ceiling and advocate amnesty for illegals.

    These are our “True” conservatives.

    GOPe – the gift that just keeps giving! This is getting funnier by the minute.
    It appears that the CPAC Neocons are panicking – if Trump gets the nomination, then they are going to be forced to support HILLARY – for she, at least, is a true imperialist!

  • RMThoughts

    The Trump campaign is built on the uniquely American premise that the people are sovereign, and that does not jibe with cozy arrangements of the country-club Republicans. For too long, the Republican Party has exploited its constituencies, instead of served them, and the beaten dog is about to bite.

    It might be Trump who is being slammed upside the GOP head, but it is not Trump doing the slamming. It is the American people. Veterans and taxpayers, moms and dads, young and old, black and white. They are tired of being screwed, they are tired of being ignored, they are tired of being played.

    And Trump is their tool. And the Republican Party can resist them at its peril.

    What Donald Trump has done is crack open the door of opportunity, he has given the voters a choice other than Party Hack A versus Party Hack B. When you give the people a chance to order something that’s not on the menu, they do it.

    The appeal of that goes far beyond anything the neocons and GOPe can imagine.

  • Adam

    You said it! Cliff, and the traitors at CAPC are nothing but CUCKSERVATIVE globalist sellouts! By the way, this same disgraced organization (CPAC) refused to let Pamela Geller, arguably America’s greatest living patriot, address their audience even though she was even willing to pay for time to present her message there. That says it ALL about the people who run that pathetic ‘conservative’ organization. They’re all a bunch of miserable establishment RINOs.

  • reggie

    At least he didn’t facilitate the sale of 20% of our uranium mines to Uranium One, which is owned by Russia. He didn’t have a $500,000 fund raiser in Beaumont, TX, with Pakistani businessmen, no one else allowed. Not even the decency to wave to US citizens who thought she would at least acknowledge their presence. Is Putin Trump’s bitch, or the opposite. Bear in mind, at the rate we’re going it will be us against a coalition of Russian, China, Iran, North Korea, and who knows who else.

  • Ted

    Trump will easily beat Clinton in the general election … simply because he’ll convert plenty of Independents … and a lot of populist-oriented Democrats who have been looking for an ‘anti-politically-correct’ candidate and a candidate with serious backbone and ***** since the heyday of the unions! While a lot of those people might vote for Sanders if he was the Dems’ candidate … without him in it … Trump has the outspoken toughness and ‘get-it-done’ attitude that these people are looking for. Trump ultimately wins … and if the ineffectual GOP of the McConnells and Boehners and their ilk goes down the toilet … so much the better!

  • Ted


  • reggie

    We all have heard about TTP. how about: “Obama is pushing three of these deals simultaneously — one, TTIP, with Europe; another, TPP, with Asia; and a third worldwide, TISA, concerning trade in services.” and further: “On the night of Thursday May 28th, the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade voted 2-to-1 for a non-binding resolution advising Europe’s trade-negotiators to move forward with the negotiations on Obama’s proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but to exclude from from the deal the provisions that ***U.S. President Obama demands, which would cede democratic national sovereignty to panels of corporate-appointed judges whose mandate would be to prioritize the rights of international stockholders above the rights of any and all nations’ consumers, workers, and environment.” My asterisks, we the people are being sold down the river with a fork to paddle with. Entry news dot com “Europeans are much bette informed about obama’s trade deals than Americans. Can you say censorship? This won’t wash with Trump.

  • reggie

    The trade deals will bury us. Repukes and democraps have both voted for them. A little info from 2015:
    “On the night of Thursday May 28th, the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade voted 2-to-1 for a non-binding resolution advising Europe’s trade-negotiators to move forward with the negotiations on Obama’s proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but to exclude from from the deal the provisions that *U.S. President Obama demands, which would cede democratic national sovereignty to panels of corporate-appointed judges whose mandate would be to prioritize the rights of international stockholders above the rights of any and all nations’ consumers, workers, and environment.” Entry news dot com “Europeans are much bette informed about obama’s trade deals than Americans. That’s how far down the river we’ve been sold. My asterisk. He wants to give away our country , and the so called republicans are all for it. Please read the whole article, and check out thrive movement, watch the video too.

  • Judy Smith

    Very well said!

  • Dommy

    “financial bribes”

    Really, Cliff?
    Not that he supports their objectives with contributions, but ‘bribes’?
    AIM’s non-stop anti-Trump efforts equal the worst GOPe and far leftist tactics and it’s sickening.

  • keepanopenmind

    The GOP doesn’t support conservatives so it does not make sense that they are so opposed to Trump until you throw in the control issue. Maybe after taking so many bribes from Trump for so long, they can see what Trump’s sheeple cannot & know a different side of him


    The liberals are now backing Cruz, they would rather have to deal with him than with Trump. They know if Cruz gets in the WH, he won’t be able to get crap done, he pisses people off. He will push his bible thumping non-issues and do nothing to get rid of the things that need to be removed. All they need to do is just wait until they can put another liberal back in office to complete what they have they have almost finished already. The complete destruction of our country as we know it. Trump may not be lovable, but he isn’t going to be your best friend anyway, sometimes you just have to bring out the crazy general to get the job done properly.

  • unclejackie

    The comments made by Fred Barnes in this article just show what a dumb #ss Fred is. I have never seen him on TV when he made an sense at all.
    Paul Walter obviously knows what he is talking about,

  • unclejackie

    Good post, RM! Yours too Judy Smith.

  • RMThoughts

    This is one of those elections where we dip our finger in ink and hold it aloft as a sign we’ve voted. Except in this case, for many not movement people, its the middle finger.

  • Wiley Coyote Jr.

    If The Donald were to be elected, would he gravitate more left of center than did Georgie W. Bush? Might Trump even pull a Romney and quit campaigning in the last couple weeks before the election? Then we’d be stuck with Karla Marx, a.k.a., Stalin-in-a-pantsuit, a.k.a., Hillarious “Mrs. Billy Bob” Clinton. There would be a lot of people who would have the last laugh if that happened and I fear that it could well be the case. I also fear it’s not the GOP who is orchestrating all this, but we are just pawns on Soros’ chessboard.

  • hadit

    Trump has excellent instincts…CPAC would have been a pile-on for Trump…who needs it. Those that Trump has faithfully supported like Mitt, the ACU, or perhaps just not getting support for being the front-runner had people speaking there like Beck, and the TeaParty people talking Trump down. Trump says his one failure is, he doesn’t forget.
    Here’s a reminder about “gentleman Mitt”

  • hadit

    Trump is not a quitter and will finish what he started. He’s flying all over giving one, two, three speeches a day, as well as 6am call in interviews on Fox and Friends, Joe Scarborough, plus all the rest on TV and radio. I don’t know how the 69 year old man does it. People show so little respect on a man who doesn’t need any of this, and the spewed garbage they often throw at him. We are fortunate he’s willing to put the country first in his life, otherwise it’s over.

  • AndRebecca

    What liberals are backing Cruz? Obama?

  • AndRebecca

    Now Cruz is lying and not Cliff?

  • AndRebecca

    Now the GOP is a far leftist group. Gee, I wonder why Republicans have a problem with Trump supporters. You folks have commie induced hatred for Republicans. You are easily led down the wrong path.

  • tompro97






  • willispebble

    In Massachusetts Democrats supported Trump because they want Hillary to run against Trump, so she can win. They said so!

  • willispebble

    Vote for trump your screwed again.

  • jug

    I do research the facts!
    And if you actually would do so, you would find out that its Trump doing the lying, and a great deal of the smearing of Cruz!

    So many lemmings!

  • RMThoughts

    At least its not incest being screwed by a GOPe candidate.

  • Wiley Coyote Jr.

    You’re right and you make good points. I don’t want to undermine Trump or his (heroic?) efforts. This commotion reminds me of how Democrat union leaders and party bigwigs in the mid ’60s fought against the insurgent and subversive socialists infiltrating the party then. Today, socialists have infiltrated the GOP, too, and conservatives are trying to fight back against them. I like Cruz, and he’d be an unfaltering conservative but, alas, he doesn’t have a chance in a general election … so GO TRUMP!

  • Mad Marx

    Die Welt ist in Aufruhr. Menschen fliehen entweder vor Gewalt und Misshandlung. Aber er ist ein Zeichen genauer hinzuschauen, was denn falsch läuft. Ich wünsche Euch eine hassfreie Woche.

  • Nobody

    It’s nice to know Vladimir Trump does not believe in the Constitution.

  • hadit

    Now we have an avowed Communist running in an American election. Can’t believe it. Socialism sounds “cool” to the young who thinks it’s great..everything will be free.
    Yes Trump 45