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NEWS & ANALYSIS

Kristol, Bulwarkers Behind Anti-Republican Billboard Campaign

A group of so-called Republicans seeking to hold fellow Republicans “accountable” for the actions of those who breached the U.S. Capitol last month, made headlines last week with its $1 million billboard ad campaign calling on Republicans like Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to resign. While the group claims to be attempting to restore the integrity of the Republican party, a closer look at its leadership reveals that its effort may simply be a culmination of long time inner-party disdain from a handful of the most notoriously self-righteously “principled” Republicans.

The group, headed up by America’s favorite neoconservative Bill Kristol seeks to prevent fellow Republicans from being able to “simply move on” from the events of Jan. 6, for which it seeks to hold Republican members of Congress accountable.

It calls itself the Republican Accountability Project, and is the latest iteration of the Defending Democracy Together Institute which — at the direction of Kristol — seeks to rid the Republican party of what it calls “unsettling nativist and authoritarian impulses,” and “abuses of power that threaten to undermine the integrity of U.S. elections, federal agencies, and the Republican Party as a whole.”

Perhaps the most widely recognized faction of the Institute is its news arm The Bulwark. It’s Publisher — Sarah Longwell– joins Kristol in directing the Republican Accountability Project.

Although The Bulwark bills itself as a publication catering to reasonable, non-Trumpian style Republicans, it often echoes vehemently anti-Republican sentiments, such as with one of its most recent headlines “The GOP Has Nothing to Offer… except division and lies.”

Other headlines currently appearing on The Bulwark’s front page include:

How to Destroy the Republican Party

Republicans Make Me Proud I Voted for Biden

GOP Senators’ Bogus Arguments Against Trying and Convicting Trump

Tucker Carlson and The Deep Lie

Joining the Bulwarkers as the Director of the program is Former DHS Deputy Chief of Staff Elizabeth Neumann. Neumann made recent headlines as she endorsed Joe Biden for President  after her departure from the Trump administration.

Neumann has recently gained attention from the mainstream media for speaking out against the Trump administration’s facilitation of what she characterizes as an epidemic of right-wing extremist domestic terrorism. She has claimed that Trump’s policies were “impacted by white nationalism.”

During an MSNBC appearance, Neumann criticized Trump’s use of the phrase “domestic terrorism” to characterize the activities of Antifa, even though he “refused” to use the term for the El Paso shooting.

She went on to insist that the “right wing extremist’ movement is a larger threat to America than Antifa, saying that DHS had no reason to believe that Antifa would cause “widespread lethal violence against people” in the same way that right-wing actors would.

“Republicans would like to simply move on. But without accountability there is no clear path forward,” explains the group’s website. “That is why we’ve launched the Republican Accountability Project.”

The groups stated goals include supporting Republicans who are “defying party leadership,” and “work[ing] to unseat” Republicans who questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election by “promoting primary challengers” through its PAC. It also seeks to dispel what it calls “lies and conspiracy theories” about the general concept of widespread voter fraud.

Its website includes a “Republican Hall of Shame” of 22 Republican members of Congress including Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Sen. Josh Hawley, and Rep. Jim Jordan.

“We’re showing the direct line between the destructive rhetoric of Congressional Republicans and the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Airing in January,” the group boasts.

While its current campaigns are focused on politicians, the group has also promised to target private citizens who it believes to be “at fault” for the Capitol Siege, including “‘journalists’,” and “political entertainers, as well as supposed “conspiracy theory mongers, and extremists.”

“We will force those who spread their lies to confront the truth,” the group threatens.

Written By

Celine Ryan is an American journalist covering politics, culture, tech, and higher education.

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