According to a report from Politico, the annual conservative gathering known as CPAC is having problems this year as sponsors drop out, speakers cancel and worries about the still raging COVID -19 pandemic has the usual attendees thinking about taking a pass.
Normally held in Washington D.C. which allowed the conference to attract an all-star list of Republican lawmaker speakers -- including now-former President Donald Trump -- the conference was moved to Florida to be closer to Trump and because of Florida's lax COVID restrictions.
That has people nervous about the Feb. 25-28 event.
"President Donald Trump's election loss has created hurdles around programming and guest booking. Stringent coronavirus guidelines in Maryland have pushed the conference outside of the Washington, D.C. area for the first time in nearly 50 years," Politico reports. "Previous sponsors aren't yet committed or have decided to forgo sponsorship entirely due to changes to the event's format or disappointment in the return on their investment last year. And the president that attendees adored so much may not show up to the event at all."
The report notes that Trump hasn't committed to attending this year -- which could help boost attendance -- and Vice President Mike Pence is uncertain this year after being the subject of Trump's supporter's ire for certifying the 2020 election for President Joe Biden.
As for CPAC's sponsorship issues, Politico previously reported that sponsors having second thoughts and that the annual conference was having difficulties, which led to American Conservative Union General Counsel David Safavian to accuse Politico of "'tortious interference with business relationships' and attempting 'to cancel both CPAC and the American Conservative Union itself.'"
The Politico report adds that last year "an attendee who'd been in direct contact with Schlapp had tested positive for Covid-19. Organizers were forced to warn nearly 100 conference-goers of potential exposure and the president's chief of staff went into self-quarantine, though only one actual case ended up being traced to the event," which has raised fears of COVID -19 exposure this year.
"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," the report states. "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."
"Laura Merriott, president of the anti-abortion nonprofit Save Unborn Life, said her group 'didn't get much response [from] donors last time' after paying between $1,000-$3,000 for a sponsorship and creating a pop-up exhibition," Politico reports with Merriott admitting, "It doesn't pay for itself when you go and set up and you don't get" enough new donors to "make it worthwhile."
As for past sponsors, "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."
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Republicans once referred to Ken Bennett as the "director" of their widely-panned audit of votes in Maricopa County, but he has reportedly lost his privileges to even enter the building where the fiasco is taking place.
Bennett, who served as Arizona's Secretary of State and president of the state Senate, was the one person associated with the recount with experience in elections. He was officially listed as the liaison to the state Senate, which paid $150,000 of the $9 million the audit is reportedly costing.
"Questions are mounting about who is in control of the long-running partisan review of Maricopa County's 2020 election results — the Arizona Senate, which ordered it, or the outside firms that are running it," The Arizona Republic reported Friday evening. "On Friday, Ken Bennett, the Senate liaison to the audit, was not allowed into the building at the state fairgrounds where the audit is taking place, a day after he shard data with outside critics from an ongoing ballot count."
"While this work is supposedly being overseen by Senate representatives, many times that oversight is not there," the newspaper noted. "The Cyber Ninjas have for weeks resisted getting outside checks of the audit, insiders say."
Reporter Ryan Randazzo explained why the outside review is threatening.
"The data Bennett provided to outside analysts, Larry Moore and Benny White, showed the results of the ongoing machine count of the ballots tracks very closely with the the county's tally," the newspaper reported. "If that trend continues, it may call into question the results of Cyber Ninja's count, because [Senate President Karen] Fann has said that the Cyber Ninjas' count did not match the county's."
The newspaper reported Cyber Ninjas spokesperson said any decision to ban Bennett was made by Fann's office.
The liaison for the Arizona election audit gave some data to outside experts who want to check the Cyber Ninjas' wo… https://t.co/gWTTmutbau— Ryan Randazzo (@Ryan Randazzo) 1627092132.0
Louisiana is experiencing a sharp spike in new coronavirus cases and is now the country's worst COVID-19 hot spot.
"The tsunami of new coronavirus cases washing over Louisiana in a fourth wave of the pandemic has once again left the state with the most severe outbreak in the country," The Times-Picayune reports. "The delta variant of the disease has found fertile ground in Louisiana, which has among the worst vaccination rates in the U.S., leading to a surge that so far appears on track to outpace any that came before it."
Only 40%% of Louisiana's population has received at least one vaccine shot, according to CDC numbers.
"Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at Tulane University, says "It's all unnecessary."
She warned of a sharp spike in new cases, but one that could dissipate quickly.
"In places where people are not masking and going out and still going to the bars and all that kind of stuff, living their normal life, the virus is going to burn through those populations pretty quickly because it's going to be spreading like a proverbial wildfire," Hassig said.
But she did note one model showed the state's surge lasting until the fall.
MyPillow CEO and election-fraud booster Mike Lindell, who is one of Fox News' top advertisers, isn't pleased with the right-wing network over its failure to promote — or cover, or even mention, for that matter — his upcoming "cyber symposium" event scheduled for mid-August in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Lindell has long promised that this event will unveil data conclusively proving that Trump was the real winner of the 2020 election, musing earlier this week that a billion people might tune in and it could become a bigger phenomenon than Elvis Presley's legendary 1973 "Aloha From Hawaii" concert.
In a phone interview on Friday afternoon, Lindell told Salon he plans to place ads on Fox News, since the conservative network continues to ignore his media blitz endeavoring to "get the word out" about his symposium. "Fox [News] does not talk about anything with the election," the pillow king lamented. "So I'm going to make ads that will talk about — at least advertising for FrankSpeech.com — that we're going to be televising this [cyber symposium] for 72 hours straight."
Lindell explained that the ads tailored for Fox News will be geared towards spreading "awareness" to Fox's viewers, who are overwhelmingly Republicans and Trump voters: "I just want their viewership to watch it, so we don't have to go out the next day and say, 'Hey, did you watch that?'"
Asked by Salon if he's already made the ad buy or contacted the network about his plans, Lindell explained he hadn't done that yet, since the ads had not been produced. "I gotta make them!" he said.
A Fox News spokesperson didn't return a Salon request for comment.
A day earlier, the man who has brought better sleep to millions vented his anger at Fox News in an exclusive interview with Salon on Thursday afternoon. He suggested Salon should ask the network why it has remained silent on the Sioux Falls event and Lindell's ever more ambitious goals — which include a 9-0 Supreme Court decision that returns Trump to the White House, by an unknown mechanism. "Shame on Fox that they haven't come," he said. "You should reach out to them!"
The symposium is slated for Aug. 10 to 12, and according to Lindell, will show the world that the so-far baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in from the 2020 election are in fact 100% valid, leading to Trump's reinstatement.
"Fox News has refused to cover election fraud, especially the machines," Lindell wrote in a text message to Salon after the interview. "Shame on Fox News!"
This is not the beginning of the pillow CEO's feud with Fox News. In April, Lindell announced he had hired a team of "private investigators" to dig into the network's reluctance to cover his election-fraud endeavors, saying he had "spent a lot of money" on the probe. No results of such an investigation have been revealed.
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