The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicked-off their annual meeting today at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, MD. The panel of speakers features the usual cast of characters, a who’s who of the Alt Right and Tea Party. Donald Trump again broke the three-decade tradition by attending the conference, as he did last year when he promised to put a “crashing end” to “the eight-year assault on second amendment freedoms.”
A day after CNN aired its prime-time town hall special, dedicated to the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida — the 18th school shooting in just two months — the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) 26-year Executive President and CEO Wayne LaPierre took the stage denouncing the FBI as “rogue leadership”, needing a “systematic resistance” within the organization, and blamed the “socialist media” for “exploiting tragedy for political gain.”
The Washington, DC resident, whose salary in 2015 was reported to be over $5,000,000, stated “Elites care not one whit about the American School System and school children,” and hailed President Trump’s proposed policy on arming educators with guns. Just minutes after LaPierre’s speech, Emma Gonzalez — a prominent student-activist at Stoneman Douglas — tweeted in response to LaPierre’s remarks: “The Disgust I feel for the lies you’re promoting with no consequences? Unsurpassed.”
Former White House official and self-proclaimed “doctor” Sebastian Gorka was also in attendance today as a guest speaker, while currently avoiding charges filed by Hungarian authorities. Mr. Gorka was caught on-camera accosting Mediate reporter Caleb Ecarma, raising his hand and threatening to hit him, then getting in his face and telling him to “fuck off.”
Also in attendance were controversial nationalists Maréchal-Le Pen and Nigel Farage. Coincidentally, McClatchy reported on January 18 the FBI is investigating whether close Putin ally, Alexander Torshin, a Deputy of Russia’s central bank, had illegally funneled money to the NRA. The investigation is ongoing.
Gina Bradbury is a freelance writer with 20 years experience working in both the federal government and private sector. She is active in grassroots advocacy for progressive policy.