In a sign of just how much the Trump orbit also includes the fringier corners of the rightwing, some of their dumbest denizens are colliding and gathering together on Thursday at Trump’s failing Doral Miami golf resort for the second annual American Priority Conference. Don Jr. will be there, as a Trump and a lover of conspiracies, and ready to take a selfie with anyone willing to cough up $2,500.
What’s the American Priority Conference, you might ask? Think CPAC, but even nuttier. At the inaugural conference last year, Politico wrote, the gathering was “rife with conspiracy theorists, logistical snafus and empty seats.” It added, “It may also be the future of Republican politics.”
This year’s conference, which has been moved to Trump’s Doral resort—which is totally not an effort to line the Trump family’s pockets and court the attention of the administration!—continues to feature luminaries like the avid QAnon conspiracy theorist Tracy Beanz and internet troll Jack Posobiec (of Pizzagate fame), as well as second-tier Trump types like Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the aforementioned Don Jr.
Despite being so sparsely attended last year that the white nationalist Stefan Molyneux refused to even go on stage for his planned talk, the conference has been able to attract some notable sponsors this year. According to Mother Jones, the private prison company GEO Group is one of the major sponsors of this wackfest. That certainly tracks, given that the company, which has profited handsomely from the Trump administration’s love of locking up immigrants, is otherwise under attack from activists, who have successfully pressured banks to stop lending to the company, leading to a sharp drop in its stock price.
Here’s more on the mutual circle jerk that is the relationship between the Trump administration and the GEO Group, from Mother Jones:
More than 40 percent of its revenue comes from federal contracts, and it has taken a number of steps to ingratiate itself with the Trump administration. During the presidential campaign, a GEO Group subsidiary donated $225,000 to a pro-Trump super-PAC. After Trump was elected, the company donated $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee and moved its annual meeting to Doral.
As the attraction of his properties diminishes with the president’s popularity, Trump needs companies like GEO Group to keep his resorts profitable. Meanwhile, GEO Group needs him. In 2016, President Barack Obama had ordered the Department of Justice to stop using private prisons, a decision that sent GEO Group’s stock plummeting 35 percent. But Trump quickly rolled back that policy, and since he took office, the prison giant has secured about $480 million in new contracts with ICE for immigrant detention, making ICE the company’s single largest source of income. In 2018, nearly 30 percent of its $2.33 billion in revenue flowed from ICE contracts.
So is the American Priority Conference just yet another way for money to flow from groups like the GEO Group to the Trumps? I wonder! But I guess it’s too bad Trump’s Doral resort is no longer infested with bedbugs.