CNP meetings, which take place three times a year and usually at a 5-star hotel, are shrouded in secrecy. “CNP meetings are off the record. To promote free discussion and a lively exchange of ideas, CNP members may not disclose the source of what is said at a meeting, whether by CNP members, invited guests or speakers,” reads an internal 2016 CNP policy, obtained by Documented. “…CNP members may not record, stream, “tweet”, or post on Facebook or via other social media forums, any CNP meetings, events, communications or other content.”
Although there have been occasional and some notable leaks during the group’s 40 year history, generally they have succeeded in keeping their internal discussions, and even just the topics of those discussions, private. Until now.
Dozens of recordings, meeting agendas, and other materials obtained by Documented provide a look inside what The Washington Post Magazine recently called “a social, planning and communications hub for conservative activists in Washington and nationwide.” CNP is not just a place where conservative leaders go to bloviate - although inevitably there is still some of that. Many of the sessions involve participants developing actual strategy for the right wing movement, agreeing on collective “action steps” that member organizations then engage in after the meeting. The materials obtained by Documented include many of these “action step” documents, and these are published on this page alongside each set of recordings.
Sometimes these "action step" sessions have been focused on significant big-picture political objectives, aimed at coalescing the movement around common tactics and messaging. One example is a 2018 session led by Ginni Thomas called "Securing a Conservative Victory in November," which decided that CNP members should "Nationalize the election by using the issues that got Trump elected" and have groups use a specific online tool to "mobilize the base."
Other times these sessions were aimed at attacking their political opponents. A September 2017 session called "Mapping the Left: Conservatives Under Fire, Firing Back," was led by Jerry Boykin, the former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under President George W. Bush. The action steps from that session included calling on CNP members to "Infiltrate progressive organizations," and to "Commit to issuing one new post on Facebook and Twitter each week about the Southern Poverty Law Center to discredit them."
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a repeat target for these action steps. An October 2018 session, also led by Boykin, called on members to "Neutralize the Southern Poverty Law Center."
The CNP “action” sessions take place in front of some of the leaders of the largest foundations that give to groups on the right. One notable CNP member is Lawson Bader, CEO of DonorsTrust, the massive foundation labeled by Mother Jones' Andy Kroll as "the dark money ATM of the right.” Richard Graber is another, the CEO of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Jane Mayer recently wrote about the Bradley Foundation for The New Yorker. “With an endowment of some eight hundred and fifty million dollars, the foundation funds a network of groups that have been stoking fear about election fraud, in some cases for years,” wrote Mayer.