GOP senators shrug off Trump-linked group buying up Capitol Hill real estate
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

WASHINGTON — Republican senators were short on specifics when asked about the Donald Trump-affiliated group run by Mark Meadows called the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI).

A recent report from Grid revealed that the group is buying up real estate all over Capitol Hill, which is notoriously expensive. One building, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told Raw Story, sits behind the Library of Congress. One 2,000-square-foot home behind the Library of Congress is going for $2.5 million. An 1885 townhouse nearby is going for $2.01 million and is 3,000 square feet.

"Months before Republicans took back the House last fall, high-profile MAGA activists were preparing a power move: dropping tens of millions of dollars on a real-estate-buying spree to create 'an expansive campus of buildings' in the heart of the nation’s capital and to operate an exclusive, luxe retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore where right-wing activists and lawmakers can hunt wildlife, play tennis and devise ways to 'save this country from the leftist onslaught,'" the report said.

In 2009, a similar house existed known as the "C Street House," which housed "The Family," a secret fundamentalist sect where a number of scandal-plagued Republicans would hang out. The 2019 Netflix special about "The Family" detailed who was living at the house ten years after the scandals.

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Politico reported that the Meadows' outfit hosted a recent event briefed "congressional aides was a former Trump administration official, an energy lobbyist and a reporter from Epoch Times." The Epoch Times is a far-right conspiracy publication run by a Chinese cult.

When Raw Story asked Cornyn about the CPI he said he didn't know much about the organization.

"They have a nice building that, uh, the executive steering committee meets in on Monday nights," he said, noting the location. He said that he'd read something about them buying up real estate all over Capitol Hill but that he didn't know anything.

He told Raw Story he goes there Monday nights "where the Senate meets" where they discuss "policy" but not much politics. "The steering committee, as you know, represents the more conservative element of the Republican conference."

"It's a place to meet," he continued. "And, uh, order in dinner. And that's about it."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was asked about CPI but he didn't recognize the name. When he was prompted that it was Meadows' group, he exclaimed, "oh yeah!" He said he hasn't followed the reports of the real estate on Capitol Hill.

"They must be raising some money!" Graham laughed. "Well, I think, as I understand it, they're not overly new. They're trying to train a cadre of conservative staff so that when you get elected up here and you've never been here before they can help you staff your office. Which I think is a good idea."

He went on to call the group "good for conservatism."

When Raw Story caught up to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), he too had no idea what the group was until Meadows' name was mentioned.

"We meet over there," said Johnson. "A few times. I've been to his place. I like Mark Meadows. I appreciate what he's trying to do."

When asked if it was a think tank or what kind of organization it was, Johnson said, "I've been over to the building, and we've had meetings over there. I don't know much more about it."

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) smirked when asked about CPI, questioning, "which one?" and then ran onto the Senate floor away from reporters.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) had read the reports about the Meadows group and said simply, "you know, whatever they want to do. God bless them. I'm glad to see they want a presence in D.C. I thought they didn't like D.C."

It was a reference to Republicans frequently attacking Washington and claiming that it isn't a representation of what's actually happening in the rest of America.

Cardin said he's not concerned about the properties being bought up on Capitol Hill so much as he's concerned about the direction of the Republican Party shifting further to the right.

"It concerns me when I see what they're doing right now in division on support for Ukraine," he continued. "When I see what's happening on the fundamental issue of democratic institutions, it concerns me. It's not the Republican Party of my parents' generation. It's very disappointing. ... This is not the Republican Party of today."