In the liberal bastion on the left coast known as Hollywood, little quarter has provided relief for conservatives among the majority of left leaning producers, directors, actors and actresses in the infamous community.
In response, a group of Hollywood conservatives founded the clandestine group, Friends of Abe – named after Abraham Lincoln, in 2005 where they could air and share their right leaning views and hear speeches from invited conservatives.
Group members were sworn to secrecy, borrowing a line from Fight Club: the first rule of the Friends of Abe is you do not talk about the Friends of Abe.
The group was co-founded by producer and screenwriter, Lionel Chetwynd and actor Gary Sinise, and eventually grew to around 1,500 members, including Jon Voight, Clint Eastwood, Jerry Bruckheimer, Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton and many who preferred to keep their names withheld.
Film-maker, Jack Marino, described the value of the group to him. “As a conservative, if you expressed your political views at work you would be weeded out. At Abe events we could get together over dinner and hang out with our own kind and speak freely.”
Through the years the group hosted speeches by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Antonin Scalia, Dick Cheney, John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh and others at various venues around Los Angeles, including the Reagan library.
According to the Guardian, the group released an announcement of dissolution that caught many members by surprise.
“Effective immediately, we are going to begin to wind down the 501 C3 organization, bring the Sustaining Membership dues to an end, and do away with the costly infrastructure and the abespal.com website,” wrote executive director Jeremy Boreing to members in an email.
“Today, because we have been successful in creating a community that extends far beyond our events, people just don’t feel as much of a need to show up for every speaker or bar night, and fewer people pay the dues that help us maintain that large infrastructure.”
Speculation arose as to possible disagreements among factions supporting different candidates in the current campaign, especially the controversial Mr. Trump, or whether the group had simply run its course.
Boreing said that although the official group was dissolving, its spirit would live on and not die and the mailing lists and stage events would continue in a less structured format.
“It’s time to change how we do it. As our group has grown in size and success, many of the structures that helped us grow have become less useful … It means an end to the standing organization, but not an end to the mission or the fellowship.”
“We will still get together for drinks and speakers, but we may reassess how we approach those events logistically. In short, FOA will return to its roots. It will be a passion project, like it was in the beginning … We’ll still be a private organization that protects the names of our members at all costs.”
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