The 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on March 14–16, 2013 in Washington, D.C. attracted a number of individuals on the extreme right of the political spectrum. Attendees at CPAC this year included a white supremacist who ran for President in the 2012 election, members of a “white student union” at Towson University, and a reported white supremacist who currently runs an anti-immigrant group. A prominent member of the anti-government Oath Keepers group presented at the event.
Sheriff Richard Mack of Arizona, an anti-government activist and member of the Oath Keepers, presented at this year’s CPAC at a session titled “How a Constitutional Sheriff can Protect Your Second Amendment Rights.” The Oath Keepers claim they will refuse to carry out certain “orders” that they expect the federal government to issue, such as putting citizens in concentration camps, assisting foreign troops in invading the country and declaring martial law. During his speech, Mack claimed “the President has no authority in your county” and asserted that “there is no gun control in the Constitution.”
Matthew Heimbach, a former activist with the now defunct racist group Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) and the founder of the “white student union” at Towson University in Maryland, attended CPAC with other students. Heimbach and another student, Scott Terry, disrupted a panel titled, “Trump the Race Card: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” Terry proclaimed that “I feel like my people, my demographic are being systematically disenfranchised” and asked the speaker, K. Carl Smith of the group Frederick Douglas Republicans, “Why can’t we be more like Booker T. Washington Republicans?” Smith responded by talking about a letter written by Frederick Douglas forgiving his slave master. Terry interrupted Smith, blurting out, “for giving him shelter and food and…,” causing a commotion. A few moments later both Terry and Heimbach further disrupted proceedings by shouting that Martin Luther King was a “Marxist.”
Robert Vandervoort, the executive director of the anti-immigrant group ProEnglish, attended this year’s CPAC. Vandervoort is reportedly the former head of the white supremacist group Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a local chapter of the white supremacist organization American Renaissance. Another extremist in attendance was Merlin Miller, a white supremacist who ran for President in the 2012 election on the American Third Position (A3P) ticket. A3P, now renamed the American Freedom Party, is a white supremacist political party. Miller attended one session titled “Iran and the Islamist Threat to America and the West: What is — What Should Be — Our Strategy.” As reported by ADL, Miller attended an anti-Semitic “Hollywoodism” conference in Tehran earlier in 2013.
Though one of the major themes of the 2013 CPAC was increasing inclusivity in the GOP, extremist elements, though small in number, were still able not only to attend but to participate at this year’s event.