A Divorce In Conservativeland
The founders of The Monday Meeting, an influential monthly gathering of conservatives that has become an institution since its founding about a decade ago, have had a falling out, with one of the duo departing to establish a rival – and similiarly named – get-together, The New York Meeting.
This past Tuesday, Monday Meeting attendees received an email from long-time GOP activist and fund-raiser Mallory Factor, (a South Carolina resident), and New York GOP consultant E. O’Brien Murray, who managed the event on Mallory’s behalf for several years before stepping back about a year ago to focus on races – including the surprise victory of now-former Rep. Bob Turner in the Democrat-dominated Brooklyn/Queens district that once belonged to Anthony Weiner.
Email recipients were invited to the inaugural New York Meeting, which will be held on Jan. 28 at the Grand Hyatt at Grand Central Station – which just so happens to be the same location as the Monday Meetings are held – and feature Mike Lee, a Republican US senator from Utah; Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert; Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro (best known for his recent dust-up with CNN’s Piers Morgan over gun control; and economist and one-time US Senate candidate David Malpass, among others.
“This new forum is a one-hour conversation with seasoned politicians and new thinkers followed by questions from a rotating panel,” the email explained. “You have been invited to join us based on the important perspective you bring to the conversation about the future of our country.”
As has long been standard for the Monday Meeting, the New York Meeting is not a fund-raiser and is free to attend – but only by invitation. Both meetings are closed to the press, although a select number of conservative-leaning reporters have been allowed at past Monday Meetings, as long as they promise not to write about anything they hear.
The Factor and O’Brien email was followed today by an email by James Higgins, an economic advisor who co-founded the Monday Meeting with Factor – and Andrew Boucher, a South Carolina political consultant who used to share an office with Factor and most recently served as the national political director for former Sen. Rick Santorum’s failed 2012 presidential bid.
“We don’t like to send a lot of e-mail between Monday Meetings,” Higgins and Boucher wrote.
“But we’ve gotten a number of inquiries so want to clarify: There is no Monday Meeting next Monday. The next Monday Meeting will be Monday February 11. We were surprised to learn through a number of you yesterday that Mallory Factor had sent an email to you announcing another similar sounding meeting in the same venue.”
“As you may know, Mallory departed (to our chagrin!) from the Monday Meeting last fall to do other things. The next Monday Meeting will be February 11 at the Grand Hyatt, as scheduled.”
“Program to follow the week in advance of The Monday Meeting. We hope you will come and be as supportive as you always have been, something for which we are extremely grateful; we should have a great lineup.”
A source close to Factor said his decision to split from Higgins was based on a difference of opinion about the Monday Meeting’s future director. At one time, the event was a must-do for Republican candidates seeking to curry favor with deep-pocketed donors in New York (which is otherwise not exactly a conservative hotbed), and attracted speakers from across both New York and the nation.
But critics say the Monday Meeting has grown moribund of late, and attendance is down. Factor and O’Brien wanted to reinvigorate the organization, change the meeting’s format and also have it take a more active role in races – especially at the federal level. According to his source, Higgins disagreed with these proposed changes.
I reached out to O’Brien for comment, and found him on a Florida golf course. He sent the following statement in an email:
“The New York Meeting will be a great opportunity to expand the fiscal conservative base and allow for a frank discussion with national leaders on the issues facing our country. The new format and many future activities planned by Mallory and me will be great for all New York fiscal conservatives.”
The Higgins/Mallory split comes at a decisive time for the Republican and Conservative parties both nationally and here in New York, as they engage in some significant soul searching in the wake of big losses in this past election cycle.
The Monday Meeting was inspired by Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, who created a network of state-based conservative gatherings modeled after his weekly Wednesday meetings in Washington, D.C. that provided the impetus for the Republican takeover of the House in 1994.
Norquist has lost some clout with GOP elected officials, as evidenced by the number of senators and members of congress who abandoned their “no tax” pledges to him during the December fiscal cliff fight.
But he remains a seminal figure in conservative circles. To wit: He’s scheduled to speak at the NYS Conservative Party’s annual political action conference in Albany this Sunday.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on January 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm, and is filed under Conservative Party. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|