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CPAC organizers warn Politico’s attempt to scare sponsors from event will lead to legal fight

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Officials with the American Conservative Union on Tuesday accused Politico of attempting to “cancel” the Conservative Political Action Conference utilizing a campaign of “misleading claims” aimed at scaring off sponsors.

Organizers of CPAC sent a letter to the CEO and top editor of Politico blasting the outlet and threatening to take legal action.



The letter opened by claiming Politico has put aside its “ethos” to provide readers with accurate, nonpartisan reporting and information.

“We see Politico’s ethos abandoned, and instead find its reporters working, not to report news, but instead to create a self-justifying narrative to support its own partisanship,” said the letter from the ACU’s general counsel, David Safavian.

“We understand that Politico reporters are calling sponsors of our national conference (CPAC) and making claims about both our chairman and our conference that are contrary to the facts. We know this because those very same potential sponsors have immediately contacted us,” the letter notes. “In pushing a misleading narrative to our supporters using cooperate resources, Politico is attempting to chill sponsorship of CPAC and harm the American Conservative Union.”

The general counsel said that the alleged actions by Politico correspondents and staffers “amounts to tortious interference with business relationships” and will not be tolerated by the conservative organization.

“Whether you realize it or not, you are demonstrating to our sponsors and supporters your political bias. Fortunately, most see this effort for what is it: ‘fake news,’” the letter continues.

“Our Founding Fathers understood that the press has a special role to play in our democracy. As such, the Framers accorded the news media with protections in the First Amendment. However, Politico’s continued campaign against the American Conservative Union crosses the line from protected speech to political activism,” Safavian added.

Politico officials, however, denied any wrongdoing and suggested its staffers were merely functioning as reporters.

“Politico is doing what journalists do—ask questions and pursue truth. We will continue to do so,” a spokesperson for the outlet told Fox News.

But the ACU nevertheless accused Politico of being a part of the left’s so-called “cancel” culture.

“Based on reporter inquiries relayed to us, the unsupported claims, insinuations, and falsehoods made by Politico appear intended to ‘cancel’ both CPAC and the American Conservative Union itself,” Safavian noted. “We fully intend to explore our legal rights to hold Politico accountable for what we see as tortious conduct.”

After the letter was delivered to Politico, the outlet published a story with the headline, “A top MAGA gathering finds life complicated after Trump,” in which Safavian’s scathing letter is mentioned. The report also says that the outlet did indeed contact CPAC sponsors.

“As for this year’s sponsors, some of whom spent as much as $250,000 in past years for exclusive benefits and branding opportunities, several said they were still evaluating the benefits or had decided not to sponsor at all due to mediocre returns on the investment or changes to the conference structure,” reporters Gabby Orr and Daniel Lippman wrote.

“Gryphon Editions operations manager Michael Hawkins said his company did not plan to sponsor the conference this year after being informed that the CPAC bookstore, which has been set up for attendees in past years, would no longer be available due to Covid-19 precautions,” they wrote.

“Other past sponsors — including the Washington Examiner, Republican National Committee, Turning Point USA, Heartland Institute and Save our States — said they had yet to make a decision as of last week about sponsoring again,” the article states.

The 2021 CPAC annual event is scheduled for Feb. 25-28 in Orlando, Fla.

Jon Dougherty

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