Resolute Square

The MAGA Bootcamps Creating a Trump Army

Amee Vanderpool shares insights on the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) orchestrates training sessions and retreats to forge strong political bonds between mainstream Republicans and far-right election-denial extremists.
Published:June 6, 2024

Published with the generous permission of Amee Vanderpool. For more of Amee's work, visit her Shero newsletter.

By Amee Vanderpool

Congressional disclosures by the US Senate and House — that detail the report of gifts received from outside organizations — show that the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) has sponsored elaborate trips held between February 2021 and April 2024. The CPI, which describes itself as the the place “Where Conservatives Go to Win,” advertises that they “train, equip, and unite Conservative leaders in Washington and across the country.” Essentially, the lobbying group is a conservative bankroll that seeks to cement a political bond between the mainstream Republican Party and far right election-denial extremists.

Between February 2021 and April 2024, the CPI held 21 disclosed events for Conservative Members of Congress and US Senators, based on House Ethics Committee filings provided by Congressional staff. Thanks to the mandatory description required for each filing of the travel gift, its estimated value, the identity of the donor and the date received, we know that CPI held lavish training sessions for congressional staff at their lush Maryland ranch, as well as retreats at several luxurious Florida resorts.

While the submitted record of disclosure forms for these events are online in separate House and Senate repositories, and available for download, there is no way to directly search through the forms by using a specific term or donor organization. I have compiled a list of all of the disclosed CPI trips for Members and staff of the US House for the Year 2024 here, so that you can easily view who was in attendance at these locations during the specified times.

The CPI is currently led by former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who was recently indicted in Arizona for his alleged role in a fake electors scheme in 2020, and former Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint. At their lavish events, the Conservative political powerhouse enlists approved organizations and far-right extremist organizations to help promote their agenda in a resort vacation setting.

CPI welcomes newly elected members of Congress for a “New Member Orientation Bootcamp” two days after Election Day in 2022. (Photo via CPI website)
At an October 2022 CPI workshop aimed at “communications professionals,” advertised speakers included AFL’s Stephen Miller, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-CO), the Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway, and Ben Williamson, a former Trump White House Aide. At a 2023 member’s retreat and leadership conference, the featured guests were Turning Point USAs Charlie Kirk and Benny Johnson, and the CEO of Blaze Media, Gaston Mooney. The 2024 schedule saw Trump diehard supporters Ben Carson and Steve Bannon as the keynote guests.

The organization also details its events by year on their website and proudly brags about CPI efforts to pursue a Conservative agenda. The group claims it “worked tirelessly” to ensure that Roe v. Wade was overturned and credits CPI’s Jim DeMint for helping to build then-candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 list of possible future judges, which included Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barret.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) with friends who attended his Christmas party at CPI in December 2022. (Photo via CPI website)

The following is an excerpt from the CPI website, which explains the strategy for finding and keeping MAGA staffers in Congress:“In 2022, conservative lawmakers faced unparalleled pressure to move to the left on immigration, gun rights, protecting the unborn, religious freedom, and free speech. The pressure comes not just from the left, but also from the GOP establishment.

On all of these issues, it’s easy for a young staffer, eager to advance his career, to take the path of least resistance and compromise on even the most morally unambiguous issues.

It’s much harder to stand for something, but it can be done if you have the secret weapon that CPI provides to any member who needs it: tough, competent, right- minded staff.

(Photo via CPI Facebook page)

A good staffer keeps members informed and prepared to fight for good policy. And they do much more—running an efficient office, improving communication with constituents, and even advising on strategy.

Recommending solid conservative candidates for staff positions has been one of CPI’s core programs since our founding. However, in 2022, CPI’s staffing was more in-demand than ever before.

CPI was the go-to organization for staffing congressional offices, both incoming and existing. As part of CPI’s “Operation Midterm Draft,” CPI’s Government Relations team worked for months to interview, categorize, and match the types of staffers who will advance a conservative agenda—not abandon it once the pressures of Washington set it.

CPI’s list contained hundreds of qualified candidates. These ranged from college graduates who wanted to jump into the conservative movement, to senior level staffers already employed on Capitol Hill and throughout Washington, DC.”

Current CPI leader and former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows leads a meeting in 2022. (Photo via Conservative Partnership Institute website)

The main objective for CPI is to further develop MAGA partnerships and implement a stronger network that was not in place during the Trump administration. Meadows, was critical in implementing Trump’s agenda which included the "Schedule F" executive order. This ongoing plan was developed and refined in secret over most of the second half of Trump’s term, and launched 13 days before the 2020 election with the goal of radically reshaping the federal government and eradicating thousands of civil servants in order to fill career posts with Trump lackeys and his America First ideology.

Ultimately, this elite group provides the resort clubhouse for a secret fraternity of Trump loyalists, who are currently developing the Human Resources department that will implement the MAGA infrastructure to incorporate the federal government. While the group has been busy working to amplifying stolen election conspiracies, and Republican election agendas that seek to bastardize commonly accepted social principles like “critical race theory,” they have been actively working to infuse the mainstream Republican Party with right wing extremists who will fall in line with the Trump agenda on Day 1 of another Trump presidency.

Several Republican House members, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on left and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Ralph Norma (R-SC) on right and far right, who fought to stop Rep. Kevin McCarthy from becoming Speaker of the House in 2022, meeting at the offices of the Conservative Partnership Institute on Jan. 6, 2023. (Photo via video screen grab.

According to CPI, members like like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Andy Biggs, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, and Rep. Byron Donalds have made the CPI headquarters “their home away from home.” At least fifteen members of the House and Senate have disclosed paying membership dues to CPI or its "Conservative Partnership Center" using campaign or leadership PAC funds. These disclosed training sessions for the last several years, prove that Mark Meadows has continued his work for the Trump administration by ensuring that a CPI bootcamp is up and running to train the next set of Trump soldiers for 2024.