Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses campaign finance.
A group closely aligned with former President Donald Trump helped organize a “bootcamp” for GOP congressional staff this past February, training them on how to conduct aggressive oversight of the Biden administration, according to new disclosure forms filed with the U.S. House clerk’s office.
The sponsor, the Conservative Partnership Institute, counts Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows among its leaders and has been described as the “nerve center” for the MAGA movement and MAGA-aligned lawmakers. It was one of three organizations to host the gathering.
Among those who briefed the congressional aides was a former Trump administration official, an energy lobbyist and a reporter from Epoch Times, a nonprofit media company tied to the Falun Gong Chinese spiritual community and known for its conspiratorial, pro-Trump views.
Founded in 2017 and chaired by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), CPI is a relative newcomer in the Washington conservative advocacy ecosystem. Yet it is raising massive sums — $45 million in 2021 alone — and rapidly gaining influence, particularly with members of the Trump-friendly House Freedom Caucus. Among fellows it lists on its website are Cleta Mitchell, one of the key attorneys who tried to help Trump overturn the 2020 election.
The Feb. 15-17 gathering was, according to disclosures, among roughly a dozen congressional staff trainings hosted over the past year at “Camp Rydin,” a 2,200-acre compound recently purchased by CPI. Situated in Cambridge, Md., the compound is named after Mike Rydin, a recently retired software magnate and advisory council member to the conservative group, Turning Point USA.
According to an itinerary for the mid-February gathering, staffers were transported to the compound from The Heritage Foundation, a long-standing conservative think tank that also sponsored the event. Once there, they were offered the opportunity to attend 10 different panel discussions.