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Nazis mingle openly at CPAC, spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories and finding allies

The presence of these extremists has been a persistent issue at CPAC, and in previous years conference organizers have ejected well-known Nazis and white supremacists such as Nick Fuentes.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MD, on Feb. 23, 2024.
The Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 23.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Nazis appeared to find a friendly reception at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year.

Throughout the conference, racist extremists, some of whom had secured official CPAC badges, openly mingled with conference attendees and espoused antisemitic conspiracy theories.

The presence of these individuals has been a persistent issue at CPAC. In previous years, conference organizers have ejected well-known Nazis and white supremacists such as Nick Fuentes.

But this year, racist conspiracy theorists didn’t meet any perceptible resistance at the conference where Donald Trump has been the keynote speaker since 2017.

At the Young Republican mixer Friday evening, a group of Nazis who openly identified as national socialists mingled with mainstream conservative personalities, including some from Turning Point USA, and discussed “race science” and antisemitic conspiracy theories.

One member of the group, Greg Conte, who attended the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, said that his group showed up to talk to the media. He said that the group was prepared to be ejected if CPAC organizers were tipped off, but that never happened.

Conte was not wearing a CPAC badge like some members of his group, but attended Friday's mixer at the conference hotel.

Mercedes Schlapp, a senior CPAC fellow, said that Conte was not registered to attend the conference. “We reject these Neo-Nazis. This is deeply offensive to these Americans and members who came from the International community who attended CPAC and stand for Israel,” she said Monday.

Another, Ryan Sánchez, who was previously part of the Nazi “Rise Above Movement,” took photos and videos of himself at the conference with an official badge and touted associations with Fuentes.

In a photo published on his X profile, Sánchez shook hands with Jared Taylor inside CPAC's secure conference area, writing "Jared Taylor is a hero of our people!" Taylor founded American Renaissance, an organization that has published racist, pro-eugenics writings. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Taylor as "crudely white supremacist."

In another video, Sánchez can be seen in the lobby of the conference hotel giving a Nazi salute.

Other attendees in Sánchez's company openly used the N-word.

For several years, CPAC and its supporters have attempted to temper the most extreme fringes of the conservative movement, and have welcomed the continued debate between Trump and more moderate conservatives.

This year, however, some attendees and former attendees have expressed frustration with the conference’s stronger association with Trump and his wing of the party.

In one of the most viral moments from this year’s conference, conservative personality Jack Posobiec called for the end of democracy and a more explicitly Christian-focused government. While Posobiec later said his statements were partly satire, many CPAC attendees embraced his and others’ invocations of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

After this article was originally published, CPAC issued multiple statements on X, calling this article "a hit piece," "false" and "fake news."

"CPAC stands firmly against all forms of antisemitism and hate," one of CPAC's posts about this article said.