Hollywood Conservative Group ‘Friends of Abe’ Dissolving … Is Trump the Reason?
The Friends of Abe are going their separate ways.
In an abrupt and surprising announcement Thursday, the fabled — if secretive — organization of Hollywood conservatives announced it was dissolving.
“Effective immediately,” said executive director Jeremy Boreing in an email to members obtained by The Guardian, “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.”
The Friends of Abe started as small, informal gatherings of conservatives in Hollywood. In an industry where revealing your conservative leanings can quickly get one blacklisted, the meetings were kept secret. Even after becoming a formal non-profit organization and growing to some 1,500 members, the list of those involved has remained tightly guarded. Among the known Friends of Abe are multiple-Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer, Oscar-winner Jon Voight and uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Everyone Loves Raymond star Patricia Heaton, another outspoken conservative, is also a member.
In addition to their own social soirees around town, the group would host conservative luminaries like Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney and the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The Friend of Abe also met with both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
So why is the organization dissolving now, in the middle of the 2016 campaign and the California primary little over a month away?
Boreing offered a positive spin, saying, “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.”
However, The Guardian reports, there is “speculation that infighting over Donald Trump’s candidacy, among other factors, had drained commitment.” They cited FOA co-founder Lionel Chetwynd who said earlier this month that the bitter primary campaign is causing a “civil war in slow motion.” “It’s too volatile,” producer-screenwriter told The Guardian, “I’ve never known an election to be so personal. People don’t really sit around any more and talk about their preferences because it’s a time of inflamed passions. Now I don’t talk much to my Republican friends.”
On Friday, Chetwynd laughed off the notion that Trump was the reason FOA was dissolving, calling The Guardian story “left-wing mischief.”
“The situation is we were always designed to be a fellowship and not an activist organization,” he told Variety, “But now is the time where everyone wants to do something. The community is aware of us. The town is aware of us. Every trade paper and news outlet is aware of us. We really don’t need to exist as a centrally focused private discreet organization; it is time to open the birdcage and fly.”
Boreing made the same point in his email, saying the dissolving of the Friends of Abe “means an end to the standing organization, but not an end to the mission or the friendship.” “We will still get together for drinks and speakers,” Boreing said, “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 …”
However, he remains wary of liberal Hollywood and the potential costs of being a conservative there. He said the names of Friends of Abe will remain protected “at all costs.”