The ruckus that has been started over the exclusion of Republican gay rights group GOProud from CPAC, for the second year in a row, may be about to get a little bit bigger.
Whispers hears that several board members of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, are quietly working to bring GOProud back.
Though GOProud isn't serving as a co-sponsor of CPAC this year as it did in 2010 and 2011, the group's executive director Jimmy LaSalvia will speak in a panel discussion at the conference called "A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet."
And one person close to CPAC tells Whispers that LaSalvia will make a surprise appearance on another panel Thursday hosted by the Conservative Inclusion Coalition, dubbed "Conservative Inclusion: Promoting the Freedom Message to All Americans." A member of the Log Cabin Republicans, another Republican gay rights group, may also take part in the event, a source close to CPAC said.
The inclusion of LaSalvia in a second CPAC event is part of a larger effort by several American Conservative Union board members to bring GOProud fully back to CPAC, the source said. Those members believe that by 2014 or 2015 GOProud will be invited back to CPAC as a co-sponsor.
When board members first voted to exclude the group last year, the decision was far from unanimous.
But the insurgent board members' efforts may be blocked by ACU Chairman Al Cardenas, who has made his displeasure with GOProud clear on a number of occasions. On news/talk radio station 630 WMAL earlier this month, Cardenas said GOProud was excluded because of the group's behavior at prior conferences, where he said they "did not act properly as guests" and held press conferences criticizing ACU board members.
Whispers hears that Cardenas has made clear that there would be no change in the ACU stance toward GOProud unless a board member openly lobbied to reopen the issue.
But CPAC spokeswoman Laura Rigas told Whispers Cardenas also "understands that a small number of board members feel differently on the issue."