The Friends of Abe has acted as a clandestine club for Hollywood conservatives for more than a decade, hosting secret events where they could vent rightwing views and hear speeches from visiting Tea Party luminaries.
“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,” the executive director, Jeremy Boreing, told members in an email, a copy of which the Guardian has seen.
“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.”
The announcement caught members by surprise and fueled speculation that infighting over Donald Trump’s candidacy, among other factors, had drained commitment. Others said the group had been losing steam for years.
Lionel Chetwynd, a producer and screenwriter and co-founder of the FOA, recently spoke of the primary campaign causing a “civil war in slow motion”, which fractured friendships and shredded solidarity.
Boreing, a director and producer, put a positive gloss on the announcement, saying the initial hunger for fellowship had prompted the group to build an expensive website, rent offices and hire staff, including lawyers and accountants.
“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.”
Boreing vowed to maintain the mailing list and stage events, but without the infrastructure, staff or budget requirements.
“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.”
Boreing did not immediately respond to interview requests.
Members expressed surprise and dismay at the weakening, and perhaps loss, of a refuge from what they see as Hollywood’s bullying liberal ethos.
It was the one place where many of its members – actors, producers, writers and technicians – felt safe from liberal sneers and potential retribution. Read the rest of this entry »