- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Nobody reacted when he walked through last year’s CPAC event in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, according to comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, a claim that conference organizers denounced as “an absolute lie.”

In a Variety magazine interview Friday, Mr. Baron Cohen discussed scenes from his 2020 “Borat” movie in which his character disguises himself in one scene as then-President Trump, and wears a Klan-style white sheet in another, during the annual conservative conference held in February.

“Did anybody do anything when you went to CPAC with the Klan outfit?” asked Ben Affleck in the “actors on actors” interview.

Mr. Baron Cohen replied: “That was the interesting thing. They reacted with indifference. None of the security were concerned,” drawing a heated denial from Conservative Political Action Conference organizers.

“This is an absolute lie. In fact, there’s security footage,” CPAC tweeted. “And it wasn’t him: he paid an actor (accompanied by a DC attorney) who was immediately detained and removed from the premises.  A vile stunt perpetrated by vile person.”

Conservative activist Caleb Hull tweeted: “I literally watched, in person as the exact opposite happened. Dude is a total liar.”

In the film released in October on Amazon Prime, Mr. Cohen’s character is shown briefly entering the hotel and walking into a restroom wearing a clumsy Klan costume, drawing stunned looks and stares from onlookers.

CPAC lawyers said that a man later identified as a professional actor — but not Mr. Baron Cohen — walked through the lobby in a Klan outfit, and was promptly kicked out of the event after being spotted by staffers.

“When CPAC staff first noticed this Fake Klansman interloper, they immediately had the actor, his costume and the Borat entourage removed from the premises and permanently banned from re-entry to any CPAC event,” said the Oct. 21 letter from CPAC lawyers to Mr. Baron Cohen and his production company.

A photo of the “fake Klansman” later appeared briefly on an anonymous Twitter account, spurring alarm in Prince George’s County, said Ian Walters, communications director of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors the annual event.

“This could have led to somebody getting shot,” Mr. Walters said. “People were pissed off enough that they were ready to march down to the Gaylord and start kicking ass, because it’s the Klan. And I don’t blame them.”

This year’s CPAC event is scheduled for Feb. 25-28 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando in Florida, the first time the conference launched in 1974 has been held outside the Washington, D.C., metro area.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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