The Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) was founded in 2017 by former congressman and retired Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who is quoted on the organization’s homepage as saying he “started CPI to be a bulwark against the Swamp and a support system for conservatives looking to do the right thing.” The site also describes CPI’s Election Integrity Network, which is “getting key players across the country together to restore the election integrity safeguards the left is trying to tear down.”
Based in Washington, D.C., CPI also serves as an incubator for new right-wing groups and provides strategic communications support as well as training, staffing, and networking for conservative leaders on Capitol Hill. It partners with the Forge Leadership Network (FLN), an associate member of the State Policy Network. FLN is based in Ohio and focuses on recruiting and training people for right-wing groups.
In 2022, CPI received $1 million from Trump’s Save America PAC to help conservative candidates win in the midterm elections. Billionaire businessman Richard Uihlein donated $1.25 million to CPI in the first half of 2020.
The Big Lie
- Cleta Mitchell, senior legal fellow at CPI, played a pivotal role in shaping Trump’s post-election legal strategy. She participated in the Jan. 2, 2021 phone call during which Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to “find” some 11,780 votes for him so that he could claim victory over Biden in the state.
- Mark Meadows, who was Trump’s chief of staff at the time, was also on that call. He joined CPI as a senior partner once he left the White House with the arrival of President Biden later that month.
- As a senior partner at CPI, Meadows has established the State Freedom Caucus Network (SFCN), which launched with 22 member states and is dedicated to giving conservatives in state governments “the resources they need to win” on GOP-favored issues such as “election integrity, critical race theory, school choice, vaccine mandates, and police reform.”
- Mitchell, who chairs the CPI’s Election Integrity Network, has been outspoken about conservative efforts to control voting processes, repeating the standard GOP claim that their only goal is “making it harder to cheat,” as she told The New Yorker. “It’s time for conservatives to stand up to the left’s attempts to silence us in the public square and at the ballot box,” Mitchell told a reporter for The Washington Examiner.
- Mitchell’s efforts helped to defeat the 2021 Democratic-sponsored bills known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, both of which failed to pass on Capitol Hill.
- Mitchell has also coordinated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and others to advance restrictions on voting in 33 states.