Matthew Schlapp is leading candidate to head American Conservative Union

Ties to Bush, activists pleases conservatives

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Matthew Schlapp, a seasoned political player with ties to former President George W. Bush and deep-pocketed conservative activists, is poised to take over as chairman of the American Conservative Union, said a member of the group’s board of directors.

Mr. Schlapp, who serves as the board’s second vice chairman, is the leading candidate to get the job when the board of directors votes Thursday to fill the chairman’s seat, said the board member, who spoke privately about the matter.


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With experience that includes serving as a political adviser in the Bush administration, managing political campaigns and directing public policy strategies for the Koch Cos., Mr. Schlapp is expected to enhance ACU’s outreach and fundraising efforts, said his supporters both inside and outside the organization.

“He’s got a pretty broad and wide range of experience, contacts and abilities,” Republican Party strategist Michael McKenna said when informed of the pending vote. “Matt’s going to be a very, very good chairman. He moves very easily and with great fluency in a variety of political, religious and social circles. He understands how Washington works, he also understands how campaigns work.”

As the oldest and largest grass-roots conservative organization in the United States, the ACU stakes out conservative positions in public policy debates and provides ratings on votes by members of Congress and some state legislatures. It hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, that has become the country’s largest gathering of conservative leaders and activists.

Mr. Schlapp would succeed Al Cardenas, who stepped down last month after more than three years as chairman of the ACU.

ACU board member Thomas S. Winter, the founder and now editor-in-chief emeritus of the news publication Human Events, is serving as acting chairman. He did not express interest in taking the job permanently.

Board members didn’t consider it a detriment that Mr. Schlapp worked for Charles and David Koch, billionaire conservative activists who have been vilified by liberals for spending their money promoting conservative candidates and causes.

“Whether or not you have a relationship with the Koch brothers, if you are right of center in this town you will be accused of it anyway,” said a board member who is supporting Mr. Schlapp.

Still, the board member said Mr. Schlapp, who is the founder and principal of D.C. lobbying firm Cove Strategies, will have to be “very, very careful not to mix his business and the business of the ACU.”

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