It’s that time of year again: spring has sprung, the days are getting longer, and the who’s who of Pennsylvania’s right-wing politics are descending on Harrisburg for the 2019 Pennsylvania Leadership Conference. Last year, the annual gathering, whose sponsors include The Commonwealth Foundation, the Koch Institute, and other billionaire-funded front groups, brought the alt-right to Harrisburg through featuring Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, best known for inciting violence on college campuses.
This year’s featured guests and sponsors double down on this approach. One of the featured speakers, Jeffrey Lord, was an avowed Trump surrogate on CNN until he posted a Nazi slogan online and was fired. Apparently, this is no problem for the Commonwealth Foundation. The National Rifle Association are sponsoring the event as well. They have most recently made headlines as federal investigators search their ties to Russia. Pennsylvania’s own State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe also appears on the list. He has recently worked with the Commonwealth Foundation to push climate science denial.
One of the top draws of this event is Mark Janus. Since going to work for the same anti-union front group that bankrolled the Janus v. AFSCME lawsuit, he has focused attention on Pennsylvania. The Liberty Justice Center has taken to suing unions all across Pennsylvania in partnership with The Commonwealth Foundation and the Fairness Center. In case all of these front groups can be confusing, Pennsylvania Spotlight has mapped it out for you: