CPAC Your Bags: Franchise Continues Global Spread

Simon Murdoch - 20 09 19

Matt Schlapp can’t help himself. The American Conservative Union (ACU), of which he is Chair, announced in early August a slew of upcoming spin-offs to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the key annual gathering of the US right. These include a run of upcoming US dates: CPAC Atlanta on 11-12 October, CPAC Memphis on 29 October, and the ominous sounding ‘Prison CPAC’ in Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution on 7 November.

In addition to these they announced, for the first time, events in South Korea (3 October) Brazil (11-12 October) and Ireland (TBA, November). This comes off the back of two international events this year already in Australia and Japan, the former being the inaugural gathering and the latter the third annual event of its kind.

This announcement signifies a continued effort by the ACU to spread its franchise across the globe (albeit a subtle signal; they issued no press release). Whilst it is not explicitly a hub of the far right, CPAC does have a long history of very dubious attendees at the annual US event and with the Australian event featuring speakers from the far-right One Nation party and the Japanese gathering admitting (again) an alt-right sympathetic vlogger, it is certainly a circuit worth keeping an eye on. 

To that end, let’s have a look at who’s involved in the upcoming international CPAC excursions.


KCPAC will be held on 3 October at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul and its site claims “more than 20 prominent American and British speakers were invited”. Those announced are Schlapp, author and columnist David Chang, former National Security Deputy Assistant Secretary KT McFarland, and Jeanine Pirro, an author and Fox News host.

In addition, they have stated Hwang Kyo-ahn, former Prime Minister and President of South Korea and current leader of the country’s Liberal Party, as well as Kim Jin-tae, a Liberal Party representative in the South Korean National Assembly, will speak. The Liberal Party has expressed far-right positions, including rampant homophobia. Remarking on the May 2019 Seoul Queer Culture Festival, Hwang declared “Personally, I oppose homosexuality. From a political point of view, I think we should not accept homosexuality.” More recently, Liberal Party representative, Jeon Kab-yoon, attracted attention after stating that Jo Sung-wook, a nominee for the country’s Fair Trade Commission, was not “fulfilling her duty to the country” as she had not had any children.

KCPAC is being co-organised by Hawaii’s New Institute, which describes itself as “the only conservative leadership institute in the state of Hawaii” offering “the highest quality of leadership training in Hawaii and throughout the Asia-Pacific Region.”


CPAC Brazil will be held on 11-12 October at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in São Paulo, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is scheduled to speak. The event follows a meeting between senior CPAC figures and key Brazilian political actors at Blair House, the official presidential guest house located near the White House, in March 2019 to discuss bringing CPAC to Brazil. Those present from the ACU were Matt Schlapp and ACU Executive Director Dan Schneider, alongside Filipe G. Martins, Special Advisor to Bolsonaro on International Affairs and Eduardo Bolsonaro, the President’s son who has been appointed and is awaiting confirmation from the Brazilian Senate to become Ambassador to the US. Eduardo is also South American leader of Steve Bannon’s organisation, ‘The Movement’, a collection of populist radical right politicians from around the world.

CPAC’s co-organisers in Brazil are UNINTER, a higher education organisation, and the Instituto de Inovação e Governança (Institute of Innovation and Governance, or ‘INDIGO’), the think-tank of the Social Liberal Party (PSL) of which Jair Bolsonaro has been a member since 2018. The announced speakers are:

– Matt Schlapp

– Jair Bolsonaro

– Eduardo Bolsonaro

– Mercedes Schlapp: Former White House Director of Strategic Communications who left her post to work on the Trump re-election campaign

– Brothers Abraham Weintraub (Brazilian Education Minister) and Arthur Weintraub (Special Advisor to President Bolsonaro)

– Filipe G. Martins: Special Advisor to Bolsonaro on International Affairs, who was interviewed by British far-right conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson in October 2018 and who regularly posts pictures to his social media reminiscent of the ‘fashwave’ aesthetic popular with the alt-right. Martins also follows numerous extreme figures on Twitter, including Stefan Molyneux, RamZPaul, Roosh V, Charles Murray, VDare (and its founder Peter Brimelow and contributor John Derbyshire), Taki’s Magazine (where Richard Spencer was a former editor), Kevin MacDonald, popular neoreactionary social media account ‘Wrath of Gnon’ and Styxhexenhammer666.

– James M. Roberts: Research Fellow at major US right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation)

– Dom Bertrand: Successor to the former Brazilian imperial monarchy who is close to the Brazilian government and the Catholic right organisation, Tradition, Family & Property, which continues to spread internationally)

– Bernado Kuster: A Brazilian far-right conspiracy theorist vlogger who’s been endorsed by Jair Bolsonaro on Twitter.

– Ana Paula Henkel: Former Brazilian volleyball Olympic athlete who gained greater attention after expressing opposition to the inclusion of trans women in female sports competitions.

– Ana Campagnolo: A Brazilian anti-feminist author and PSL parliamentarian

– Damares Alves: The Brazilian Minister of the controversial new Human Rights, Family and Women ministerial position

– Bene Barbosa: President of the Viva Brazil Movement, a pro-gun organisation

– Fernando Francischini: PSL State Deputy for Paraná

– Rafael Nogueira: Professor of Philosophy and popular Brazilian vlogger

– Kassy Dillon: Founder of the US right-wing student web magazine, Lone Conservative

– Nando Moura:  A popular Brazilian vlogger

– Luiz Philippe: Member of the former Brazilian imperial monarchy and Federal Deputy for São Paulo

– Ernesto Araújo: Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs


Less is known about CPAC Ireland, with the ACU only having revealed at the time of writing that it will be held in November of this year. However, Schlapp did reveal he had been “plotting and planning” in June with Niamh Ui Bhriain and Reverend Patrick Mahoney to put on the event.

Adding that they were doing so because “every life is precious” alludes to the backgrounds of his co-organisers. Ui Bhriain is a prominent Catholic right-wing activist, co-founder of anti-abortion group, Youth Defence, which has previously been revealed to have ties to neo-nazis. She is also a spokesperson for the anti-abortion organisation The Life Institute and was a spokesperson for The Mother and Child Campaign which opposed LGBT+ rights. She claimed in 2006 that “I would not be confident in knowing that, god forbid, something happened to myself or my husband that my children would be raised in a household where there was a same-sex union.”

Mahoney, a US pastor, gained international attention most recently in 2017 when he flew to London to visit the critically ill baby, Charlie Gird, who had received widespread media focus. As The Guardian reported at the time, Mahoney has a history of extreme anti-abortion associations, including as “a founding board member of the US anti-abortion healthcare provider Stanton Healthcare, which helps women with “challenging pregnancies”, including encouraging rape victims to give birth.” He was also sentenced to 6 months in jail in 1992 for breaching a restraining order meant to prevent demonstrations in front of abortion clinics and was a national spokesman for Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group which “repeatedly implied that violence against abortion providers was righteous”.

The CPAC franchise is evidently on the rise and with alarming associations and connections. HOPE not hate will continue to investigate this rapidly developing and dangerous international network.


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