One of CPAC's panels on 'protecting elections' is titled 'The Left Pulled the Strings, Covered It Up, and Even Admits It.'
An annual gathering of GOP lawmakers and popular right-wing figureheads will include a number of panels focused on promoting lies about voter fraud — yet another of the Republican Party's overt efforts to suppress the vote in response to Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election.
State Republican lawmakers have already introduced 165 voter suppression bills based on Trump's and his allies' lies about voter fraud. And the lies that will be pushed at the Conservative Political Action Conference that begins this week will put pressure on those states to keep moving forward and passing those bills by ginning up anger among the base voters that attend CPAC.
The American Conservative Union, which puts on the annual CPAC event, is continually updating its schedule ahead of the four-day conference that begins on Thursday. But the schedule so far includes at least seven panels dedicated to supposed voter fraud in the 2020 election — which Republican lawmakers have continued to lie about even after those lies helped lead to the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The first panel is titled "Voting is Democracy: Why We Must Protect Elections."
It will be hosted by Deroy Murdock, a Republican pundit who helped spread Trump's lies that the 2020 election would be full of fraud due to increased use of absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Murdock called voting by mail a "political cancer" and based claims of fraud on the fact that, over the course of eight years, the right-wing Heritage Foundation found 109 instances of "fraudulent use of absentee ballots."
To put that in perspective, more than 556 million ballots have been cast in the four presidential elections since 2008 — which means there is a 0.0000002% rate of fraud, per Murdock's own standard.
The second panel is titled "Other Culprits: Why Judges & Media Refused to Look at the Evidence" — a nod to the dozens of baseless lawsuits Trump and his allies filed that were thrown out by judges of all stripes because they lacked any evidence of fraud.
On that panel is Rep. Mo Brooks, the Alabama Republican who helped organize the strategy against the Electoral College certification that helped lead to the insurrection. Also on the panel is Hans Von Spakovsky, a GOP lawyer who has pushed voter fraud lies for years and was on Trump's failed Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that was disbanded in 2018 without finding any fraud.
The third panel on "protecting elections" is titled "The Left Pulled the Strings, Covered It Up, and Even Admits It" — an ominous title that suggests it will blame Democrats for voter fraud. It will be hosted by former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who resigned from Congress in 2017 to take a lucrative Fox News contributor role.
A fourth panel is titled "Failed States: PA, GA, NV, oh my!" It's a nod to three states President Joe Biden won, wins that Republicans over and over again tried to overturn through lawsuits with false allegations of voter fraud. The effort culminated in a failed effort from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — supported by more than 100 congressional Republicans — to get the Supreme Court to throw out the results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, as well as Michigan and Wisconsin.
Von Spakovsky will be back for Part 5 of CPAC's voter fraud lie panels, this one titled "They Told Ya So: The Signs Were Always There" — another ominously named panel that suggests Republicans will say Trump's lies about the perils of voting by mail that he made prior to the election came true.
There are two more panels with former Trump officials who have pushed voter fraud lies. The panels include Matthew Whitaker, Trump's former acting attorney general who lied about "thousands" of dead people voting in Nevada's elections.
Andrew Wheeler, Trump's former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, will also be a member of a panel about "what's next" for the effort to "protect" elections. It's unclear why a supposed environmental expert is on a panel about voting rights.
Meanwhile, CPAC announced on Monday that Cleta Mitchell will also speak. Mitchell is a GOP lawyer who was on Trump's call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January, where he demanded the state "find" 11,780 votes — the exact number to make him the winner of a state he lost. CPAC said that Mitchell will "share her on-the-ground experiences in #Georgia and the true facts about what happened on Nov 3rd and since then."
This all comes as Democrats are trying to fight back against GOP voter fraud lies and to stop voter suppression bills by passing H.R.1, a sweeping pro-democracy bill that seeks to make it easier to vote and stop Republicans from purging the voter rolls.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.