Rashad Robinson

Civil Rights Groups to GOP Presidential Candidates: Distance Yourself from CPAC’s White Nationalist Ties

Today, People For the American Way, America’s Voice, and ColorOfChange.org released an open letter to Republican presidential candidates urging them to make clear that they don’t support CPAC’s ongoing relationship with ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Bob Vandervoot. Despite CPAC’s troubling history of welcoming white nationalists as participants and sponsors, Republican leaders continue to headline the conference. CPAC has included ProEnglish as a sponsor in the past, and in 2012, CPAC hosted a panel on race featuring Vandervoot and infamous racist writer Peter Brimelow. This year, ProEnglish is again participating as a sponsor of the conference.

“Anyone who aspires to our nation’s highest office has a responsibility to be clear about what they stand for and what they stand against,” said  Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “These candidates need to make it perfectly clear that they won’t truck with white nationalists and that they reject intolerance and bigotry.”

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America’s Voice, stated, “The GOP strategy of winning support from their base by cozying up to extremists on the right is sure to backfire, as it did in 2012.  Latino, Asian Pacific Islander American and immigrant voters are watching these 2016 hopefuls closely, and any candidate that aligns with anti-immigrant extremists doesn’t stand a chance.”

“As Republican leaders and activists gather at CPAC to discuss the future of their party, GOP Presidential hopefuls have to decide whether they're going to be the type of leaders that confront racism in their ranks or cravenly shrink from that responsibility in order to exploit hatred for political gain," said ColorOfChange.org Executive Director Rashad Robinson. “The clearest signal the GOP could send that they are interested in changing course and opening an honest dialogue with Black voters would be removing Representative Steve Scalise from the #3 House leadership position for his association with David Duke and extremist hate groups.”

Read the letter here:

Dear Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Santorum, and Gov. Scott Walker:

We understand that you are scheduled to speak at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, an event which is being partially sponsored by ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Bob Vandervoort. We urge you to decline to speak at CPAC unless it cuts ties with ProEnglish and Vandervoort.

ProEnglish has sponsored CPAC for the past several years, despite Vandervoort’s well documented ties to the white nationalist movement. As the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights has reported, Vandervoort is the former leader of Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a group dedicated to supporting the ideals of the infamous white nationalist publication American Renaissance.  One member of the group described its mission as encouraging “white survival and maintaining white majorities.”

Vandervoort’s own writings reflect these views. He has expressed concern about the need to “halt the cultural and racial dispossession of the West's historic people” and expounded on “racial differences” in “intelligence and temperament.” He has wondered how “race realists and pro-Western Civ nationalists” like himself can counter historical comparisons to the Holocaust and slavery.

CPAC has a troubling history of welcoming white nationalists. In 2012, the conference hosted a panel on race featuring Vandervoort and fellow white nationalist writer Peter Brimelow. And ProEnglish has continued to be allowed to sponsor the event even after civil rights groups have raised concerns.

Clearly, Robert Vandervoort and his group should have no place as a financial sponsor of the nation’s largest convention of conservatives. We urge you to distance yourself from Vandervoort’s views and refuse to speak at CPAC unless ProEnglish’s sponsorship is withdrawn.


Michael Keegan, President
People For the American Way

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director
America’s Voice

Rashad Robinson, Executive Director


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