The Conservative Partnership Institute—a group that has been described as the “insurrectionists’ clubhouse” and the “nerve center” for the MAGA movement for its role as a hub for Trump administration officials and 2020 election deniers—brought in more than $36.3 million in 2022, according to tax documents obtained by CREW. More than 62 percent of that revenue came from just four anonymous donors, one of whom gave $15.5 million.
CPI is the flagship group in a constellation of conservative nonprofits that have provided a soft landing to Trump administration officials and allies who helped sow doubt about the 2020 election in the leadup to the January 6 insurrection. Since the deadly attack on the Capitol, the ranks of CPI and its affiliated groups have swelled with key January 6 figures like Mark Meadows and Stephen Miller, joining other election deniers like Cleta Mitchell. Far from hurting the organization, filling its ranks with people who undermined democracy has been a financial boon to the group. In each of the two years since, it has brought in at least twice as much money as it did in its first four years of its existence combined.
The fundraising boon has amounted to a windfall for some of the key figures in Trump’s scheme to sow doubt about the 2020 election. Former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who spent weeks after the 2020 election trying to gather support for outlandish election conspiracy theories was paid more than $889,000 in 2022—thanks not only to a salary well above half a million dollars, but also a whopping $300,000 bonus. According to testimony by other officials there that day, Meadows stood by and refused to intervene while the Capitol was attacked. He has since been indicted in Georgia as one of 19 people charged, along with Donald Trump, in a massive racketeering case for efforts to subvert Georgia’s 2020 election brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
Former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint was compensated more than $686,000 last year as CPI’s chairman, a salary that was boosted by a $100,000 bonus. In December 2020, DeMint was one of the signatories on a letter saying “[t]here is no doubt President Donald J. Trump is the lawful winner of the presidential election,” calling on lawmakers in contested states to appoint fake electors and send them to “support President Trump.”
The group also paid $300,000 to Cleta Mitchell, who heads CPI’s Election Integrity Network. Mitchell has come under scrutiny for her role in the phone call during which Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffesnperger to “find” votes. The call is a central piece of evidence in the upcoming racketeering trial that has snagged Meadows and Trump, though Mitchell has so far escaped charges, contrary to the grand jury’s recommendations. Now with the backing of CPI’s deep pockets, Mitchell is traveling the country to recruit an “army of citizens” to monitor election offices, spurred by baseless theories of rampant voter fraud.
Reports have recently painted CPI and its spinoffs as a growing force in Washington, buying up prime real estate on Capitol Hill and a $7 million lodge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, called Camp Rydin, which provides opportunities for hunting and sports for right-wing activists and lawmakers while they concoct ways to “save this country from the leftist onslaught.” The new tax returns show that this expansion has extended to the groups in the network as well. Where there were only two groups in 2020, that expanded to at least seven organizations in 2021, and in 2022, it ballooned further to at least 13 separate groups, many of which share CPI’s largess. Of the 11 grantees that CPI gave $4.2 million to, eight list the same Independence Ave address as CPI.
The CPI network’s ambitions match its fundraising. The group’s 2022 annual report shows its extensive media reach, its growing role as the “go-to organization for staffing congressional offices” and its forays into the culture wars of the day, whether they be “pro-American” school curriculums or fighting a “woke and weaponized” government. But that may be just the beginning. CPI network operatives—including yet another defendant in the GA racketeering case, former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark—are deeply enmeshed in Project 2025, a plan for a second Trump administration aimed at rolling back the modern administrative state. The plan is stunning in its audacity, aiming to defund the Department of Justice, eliminate entirely other federal departments, like Education and Commerce, and do away with the rules that govern federal hiring so that the ranks of the agencies that are left can be filled with loyalists rather than career civil servants. And with millions of dollars in the bank, flowing from donors willing to give seven—or eight—figure checks, fueling a growing network of affiliated groups, CPI has the resources it needs to make this a reality.