There’s a lot of wackiness coming to Raleigh this weekend at the Pope-Civitas Institute’s Conservative Leadership Conference. You can check out the whole motley crew of presenters and “can’t miss” sessions by clicking here. Among the obvious “highlights”:
- Christian Action League boss Mark Harris holding forth on threats to “religious freedom,”
- Convicted campaign finance law felon Dinesh D’Souza pushing two of his recent books and
- A session entitled “Dark Money v. Private Philanthropy: How to Keep Your Donations Private and the Left Out of Your Business.”
And, of course, who would want to miss the Saturday night “Liberty on the Lawn Cigar Reception”?
But the sessions that really stand out in the midst of a hotly contested state primary election (early voting starts tomorrow) will be the ones featuring the appearance of two candidates and one surrogate for a candidate — all of whom appear on the primary ballot.
First will come Gov. Pat McCrory at the Friday morning opening breakfast (as an aside, does anyone else think it’s weird that the Governor of the state has to share the podium with three other speakers including the notorious vote suppressor, Hans von Spakovsky?). Then comes a Friday after-lunch session featuring Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. And then on Saturday, the lunch will feature Heidi Cruz — the wife of the presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who has been feverishly crisscrossing the nation as a surrogate for her husband’s campaign.
Notably absent from the schedule: the opponents or spokespersons for the opponents of these candidates.
All of which raises the question of how in the heck a nonpartisan nonprofit pulls this off. At last check, the Pope-Civitas was a 501(c)(3) private foundation that is barred from endorsing candidates for office. One presumes the speakers have been instructed not to make appeals for votes, but given the proximity to the election and the notable absence of opponents, it’s hard to see how the appearances — especially Cruz’s — don’t amount to at least tacit endorsements.