Every year, the American Conservative Union hosts the Conservative Political Action Conference, one of the largest gatherings of conservative activists in the country. After ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp announced last week that alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos would be speaking at this year's CPAC, controversy immediately erupted — a controversy that was exacerbated when multiple videos surfaced of Yiannopoulos arguing for the legalization of sexual relationships between teenage boys and adult men, as well as making anti-Semitic comments about Jews in the media.
In one of the videos, Yiannopoulos can be heard arguing that it's a "statistical fact" that "Jews own most of the banks, Jews completely dominate the media." In others, he argues explicitly that relationships between older gay men and gay teens ought to be celebrated, arguing, "We get hung up on this child abuse stuff... this arbitrary and oppressive view of consent, which totally destroys the understanding that many of us have of the complexities and subtleties." He argued that these relationships help young gay men discover themselves, which he viewed as a good thing:
In the homosexual world, particularly, some of those relationships between younger boys and older men — the sort of ‘coming of age’ relationship — those relationships in which those older men help those young boys discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable, sort of rock, where they can’t speak to their parents.
The firestorm has shed unwelcome light on the ACU board, a group consisting largely of long-time conservative movement movers and shakers, and prominent CPAC donors, many of whom prefer to avoid the limelight.
Cracks began to appear in the facade almost immediately, as ACU board member Ned Ryun began immediately tweeting his displeasure with the decision, alleging that the ACU board was not consulted and that the invitation to Yiannopoulos was an affront to "basic decency."
TheBlaze has spoken with numerous other ACU board members about the decision to invite Yiannopoulos. Some, like board member Peter Samuelson, offered a mere "no comment" on the decision to invite Milo or on the substance of Milo's remarks. Others, like board member John Eddy, would not comment on the board's internal deliberations but stated categorically that he was opposed to Milo's comments and would not defend them.
Other ACU board members spoke to TheBlaze about the decision to invite Milo on the condition of anonymity. They indicated that the ACU board has not met in over six months and confirmed Ned Ryun's public allegation that they were not in any way consulted or informed that Yiannopoulos would speak. According to these board members, the decision to invite Yiannopoulos was made unilaterally by Schlapp, as far as it can be determined. The board will meet this week prior to the start of the conference, and it is expected that the invitation to Yiannopoulos will be a point of major controversy.
One board member went so far as to tell TheBlaze that he intends to submit his resignation from the board if the invitation is not rescinded and additionally predicted that he would not be the only one to do so. Multiple board members also indicated that they considered it likely that CPAC would lose major sponsors due to the controversy, even if the invitation was rescinded.
As of press time, Schlapp has not responded to multiple requests for comment on Twitter about Yiannopoulos's remarks.