Convention of States Action
Convention of States Action is a 501 (c)(4) project founded by Citizens for Self Governance (CSG). It is often referred to as simply "Convention of the States" (COS) or "the Convention of States Project." CSG, founded by Eric O'Keefe and Mark Meckler, is "heading up" the to push for a constitutional convention in order to severely restrict federal power. Meckler described his group's goals to "stop the federal spending and debt spree, the power grabs of the federal courts, and other misuses of federal power." According to the organization's handbook, it aims to "go AROUND the Washington political establishment and rein in the out-of-control federal government PERMANENTLY" (emphasis from source).
Common Cause called COS "a more far-reaching plan" than an Article V convention, advocating for "a complete change in how the federal government operates." According to The Dangerous Path report, COS "has deep ties" to the tea party movement, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Koch brothers."
Potential outcomes range from redefining the Commerce Clause to prohibit Congress from enacting protections against child labor laws, to adding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. CSG has promoted this strategy in workshops at the 2012 and 2013 annual conference of ALEC, which has published a "how-to" manual for an Article V constitutional amendment and offers a "model" resolution, the "Balanced Budget Amendment Resolution."
"Various activist groups have sought to amend the constitution on specific points through an Article V convention before, but few have been as well-funded or as ideologically driven as the Convention of States Project, steeped in evangelical Christianity and backed by millions of dollars in dark money. Between 2011 and 2015, the group’s budget more than tripled to $5.7 million—buoyed by donations from the Mercer Family Foundation and various donor-advised funds linked to the Koch brothers," Brendan O'Connor reported in June 2017. Arn Pearson of the Center for Media and Democracy said “Convention of States is a much more radical approach to a constitutional convention... Their budget has increased dramatically. This is their effort to push the state agenda as far as they can while they hold peak power.”
- 1 News and Controversies
- 2 Target States
- 3 COS Plan
- 4 Ties to Conservative Groups and Politicans
- 5 Ties to the Council for National Policy
- 6 Mock Constitutional Convention
- 7 Convention of States Article V Application Gaining Momentum
- 8 Funding
- 9 Core Financials
- 10 Personnel
- 11 Board of Directors
- 12 Contact Information
- 13 Articles and Resources
- 14 External Articles
- 15 References
News and Controversies
Stance on Black Lives Matter and Transgender People
In a June 2020 edition of his video blog The BattleCry with Mark Meckler, Meckler said that "Black Lives Matter as an organization is evil. It is anti-American, it is anti-nuclear family; they say this on their website. It is pro-transgender- it's a mental illness by the way, you can't be pro-mental illness it's a terrible thing."  Meckler also told viewers that there is a danger in labeling ANTIFA or BLM a terrorist organization because "most business insurance policies have an exception, in other words they don't cover terrorist incidents. And so that would mean if a business gets burned down and they've been declared a terrorist organization, no insurance coverage, so we've got to watch out for what we ask for."
In response to Black Lives Matter protests around the country, Meckler told his viewers in July of 2020 that "I'm sick of these thugs and these hooligans, whatever you want to call them, criminals, radical elements in society, Marxists, whatever you want to call them, running wild in our society, running rampant in our society."
COVID-19 Reopen Protests
In April of 2020, Convention of States helped coordinate protests against COVID-19 lockdowns. COS launched the website Open The States which allows users to organize on online forums and petition state and federal officials. According to Politico, in a COS Facebook livestream Meckler told viewers that "Facebook…[is] literally working with the governors to find out what the policy is and they're trying to shut [us] down... So what we're trying to do is we're trying to create other ways to communicate with people about what we're doing."
Convention of States Holds First "Leadership Summit"
In August 2019, Convention of States held its first "Leadership Summit" in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. That event featured many right-wing speakers including Fox & Friends' Pete Hegseth, Wallbuilders' David Barton, Charles Cooper, Eric O'Keefe, Rob Natelson, Tom Coburn, and Mark Levin.
Emerging Leaders Program
COS hires college students and high school seniors for an internship program called the "Emerging Leaders Program." In an interview by PragerU, all of the Students were from Hillsdale College. The interns work remotely, as COS does not have an office space.
Claims Medicare-for-All is Why "we need to call an Article V Convention of States"
Following the first congressional hearings on Medicare-for-All, a proposal in its current iteration put forth by Rep. Pramila Jayapal COS claimed that "Nationalized healthcare" is "why we need to call an Article V Convention of States." The COS argument is that "the Founders never imagined that the federal government would control industries as massive as our healthcare system -- or any industries at all" further stating that an article five convention should be called to so that the United States can return to the "Founders' original vision."
In a Facebook live video mid-April 2019, COS founder Mark Meckler said "North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan" in regards to which states COS is "shooting for right now."
COS no longer hosts their plan on their "about" page. An archived version of that page states that the plan "is twofold." The first step listed is to get 34 states to pass resolutions to call a convention of states on the same subject. "We are working with state legislators around the country to call a convention for a specific subject: Limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government." The second step is to recruit 100 citizens in 40 states "who are ready to contact their state legislators in at least 75% of the state legislative districts."
Ties to Conservative Groups and Politicans
The leadership of the COS is staffed with alumni of various conservative organizations. Meckler is a founder of the Tea Party Patriots and writer at The Daily Caller. O'Keefe is a founding Board Member of the Institute for Free Speech, the Wisconsin Club for Growth and numerous other conservative groups. Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint both serve as senior advisors to COS. DeMint resigned from the Senate to become the president of the Heritage Foundation but was ousted after failing to resolve issues to the satisfaction of the board. Coburn is a Republican politician who has been called "one of the real far-right guys" for his stances as "a top anti-abortion crusader," proclaiming "I am a global warming denier" and fearmongering over what he calls the "gay agenda" alongside austerity budgeting. Coburn joined the Manhattan Institute in 2016 as a Senior Fellow.
COS boasts endorsements of its ideas from Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Gov. Greg Abbott, Rand Paul, Gov. Sarah Palin, Ben Shaprio, Sen. Marco Rubio, Charlie Kirk, James O'Keefe, Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Ron Johnson, David Horowitz and other conservatives.
Ties to the Council for National Policy
As of September 2020, Convention of State Action's Mark Meckler was a "Gold Circle" member of the Council for National Policy.
|Council for National Policy|
The Council for National Policy (CNP) is a secretive, Christian Right organization of funders and activists founded in 1981 by activist Morton Blackwell, commentator Paul Weyrich, direct-mail pioneer Richard Viguerie, right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly and Left Behind author Tim LaHaye. Anne Nelson's book about CNP, Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, describes how the organization connects "the manpower and media of the Christian right with the finances of Western plutocrats and the strategy of right-wing Republican political operatives.”
CNP membership as of September 2020 is available here.
Mock Constitutional Convention
As of 2023, the Convention of States has held three “simulation” constitutional conventions.
Convention of States hosted a three-day simulated constitutional convention in September 2016 in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. The promotional video, invoking a sense of nostalgia, describes the city as the place "where liberty was born". A nearly seven-hour video of the "historic simulation" is available on the organization's YouTube channel here. The mock convention passed amendments related to right-wing agenda items, easing the process to repeal federal regulations, requiring approval to increase the national debt, imposing congressional term limits, repealing the 16th amendment, limiting the Commerce Clause and requiring a supermajority to impose federal taxes.
In August 2023, the Convention of States held its third mock convention, once again in Colonial Williamsburg. At the end of the three-day mock convention, delegates adopted six “Official Proposals,” all of which are designed to weaken the federal government and lock in conservative political controls. The majority of the proposals adopted at the mock convention sought “to curtail the federal government’s discretionary spending authority, land ownership rights, ability to regulate interstate commerce — and, most radically, power to enforce any federal law or regulation with which the majority of state legislators disagree.” The convention also adopted proposals that would limit the number of justices to the current nine as well as impose term limits for Congress members.
Convention of States Article V Application Gaining Momentum
In March 2014 the Convention of States application was passed by the state of Georgia, making it the nation's first. During the 2017 legislative session, COS introduced wide-ranging resolutions calling for a broad convention to limit the powers of the federal government in 24 states and won passage in four, Arizona, Missouri, North Dakota, and Texas, bringing the total number of states to pass COS resolutions to 12, as of June 2017. Most of the states that have passed Convention of State resolutions are in the deep south, prompting some critics to call it the “New Confederacy.”
Convention of the States Action is not required to disclose its funders, but some of COSA's funding sources can be identified through other organizations' IRS tax filings. A December 2019 Financial Report states that, "Two donors accounted for $2,471,000 (approximately 36%) of the Organization's total support during 2019." Through an examination of IRS filings, additional funders of related non-profits Convention of States Foundation and CSG Action have also been uncovered and are available on their respective Sourcewatch pages.
- America First Works: $250,000 (2020)
- David S. Baum Foundation: $5,000 (2021)
- Ebs Foundation: $1,000 (2022)
- Edward and Barbara Hulac Charitable Foundation: $2,000 (2019)
- George E. Seay III Foundation: $15,000 (2019)
- Pema Foundation: $110,000 (2018-2021)
- Sparks Foundation: $2,000 (2019-2021)
- Susan and Rip McIntosh Foundation: $3,500 (2018-2021)
- Tree of Life Foundation International: $28,000 (2022)
- Venner Family Foundation: $5,000 (2021)
- Total Revenue: $8,330,036
- Total Expenses: $10,689,465
- Net Assets: $1,695,254
- Convention of States Political Fund: $381,666
- Convention of States South Dakota PAC: $10,000
- Floyd County Republican Party: $250
- Hawaii Republican Party: $75
- Idaho Republican Party: $500
- Kansas Republican Party: $400
- Libertarian Party of Texas: $499
- Michigan Republican Party: $500
- Republican Party of Texas: $2,744
- Stand for Families South Dakota: $5,000
- Total Revenue: $7,891,122
- Total Expenses: $8,098,794
- Net Assets: $4,054,683
- Convention of States South Dakota PAC: $10,000
- Idaho Republican Party: $500
- Kansas Republican Party: $300
- Michigan Republican Party: $745
- Republican Party of New Mexico: $500
- Republican Party of Wisconsin: $300
- Total Revenue: $8,006,866
- Total Expenses: $5,168,860
- Net Assets: $4,262,355
- Convention of States South Dakota PAC: $4,500
- Convention of States Washington PAC: $2,500
- Idaho Republican Party: $300
- Kansas Republican Party: $135
- Wild West Republican Women: $250
- Total Revenue: $6,908,918
- Total Expenses: $6,000,742
- Net Assets: $1,424,350
- Total Revenue: $4,923,942
- Total Expenses: $5,241,888
- Net Assets: $521,490
- Total Revenue: $3,237,607
- Total Expenses: $3,992,597
- Net Assets: $839,436
- Total Revenue: $4,929,014
- Total Expenses: $3,571,988
- Net Assets: $1,594,426
- Total Revenue: $3,220,865
- Total Expenses: $2,981,009
- Net Assets: $532,987
- Total Revenue: $121,522
- Total Expenses: $123,978
- Net Assets: -$2,456
As of June 2022:
- Mark Meckler, President/ CEO
- Eric O'Keefe, Chairman of the Board
- Jim DeMint, Senior Advisor
- Rick Santorum, Senior Advisor
Board of Directors
As of December 2022:
- Mark Meckler
- Tim Dunn
- Eric O'Keefe
- Kyle Stallings
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 47-2245708
Convention of States Action
5850 San Felipe
Houston, TX 77057
Articles and Resources
IRS Form 990 Filings
2021 Financial Audit Report
2020 Financial Audit Report
2019 Financial Report
Convention of States Action Impact Report, Summer 2020
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Alex Kotch, "Kochs Bankroll Move to Rewrite the Constitution". ExposedbyCMD.
- Alex Kotch, "Groups Aligned with Right-Wing Megadonors Are Promoting Coronavirus Protests", ExposedbyCMD, April 22, 2020.
- Alex Kotch, "Parler Is Now in the Hands of a Right-Wing Activist Seeking a Radical Rewrite of the Constitution", ExposedbyCMD, February 15, 2021.
- Arn Pearson, "Koch Convention to Rewrite Constitution Runs Into Roadblocks", ExposedbyCMD.
- Brendan Fischer, "Wisconsin Moving to Advance ALEC Constitutional Convention Scheme", PR Watch, February 10, 2014.
- David Armiak, "Radical Resolution Calling for a Constitutional Rewrite Passes Wisconsin Assembly", ExposedbyCMD, February 25, 2020.
- David Armiak, "Convention of States Fires Up Base for Push to Rewrite U.S. Constitution", ExposedbyCMD.
- David Armiak, "Wisconsin Far Right Lawmakers Seek Radical Rewrite of U.S. Constitution…Again", ExposedbyCMD, April 20, 2021.
- Mark Meckler, "9th Circuit's Decision: Not Checks and Balances, But an Act of Judicial Supremacy", CNS News, February 10, 2017.
- Mary Bottari, Infighting, Legal Questions Slow ALEC Push for Second Constitutional Convention, ExposedbyCMD.
- PRWatch Editors, "CMD Files Lawsuit Against IRS for Refusing to Release Tax Records for 18 Right-Wing Groups", PRWatch
- Tina Nguyen, "How a tea party-linked group plans to turbocharge lockdown protests", Politico, April 24, 2020.
- COS about archived website, access April 2019
- Emma Roller Conservatives’ Improbable New ‘Convention of States’ Project Slate, Dec 23, 2013
- Citizens for Self Governance Pocket Guide Booklet promotional materials, accessed April 23, 2019
- Jay Riestenberg and Dale Eisman The Dangerous Path Common Cause Education, May 2016
- Brendan Fischer, Wisconsin Moving to Advance ALEC Constitutional Convention Scheme, Center for Media and Democracy, PR Watch, February 10, 2014.
- Brendan O'Connor, Koch Brothers' Former Right-Hand Man's New Gig: Helping Reactionaries Dismantle the Constitution, Fusion, June 12, 2017.
- Arn Pearson, Koch Convention to Rewrite Constitution Runs into Roadblocks, Exposed by CMD, June 12, 2017.
- Convention of States, The BattleCry: Article V on the March in Michigan, The BattleCry with Mark Meckler, June 28, 2020 (quote starting at 31:52)
- Convention of States, The BattleCry: Article V on the March in Michigan, The BattleCry with Mark Meckler, June 28, 2020 (quote starting at 31:00)
- Convention of States, The BattleCry: Positively Pissed Off at 'Peaceful Protests'The BattleCry with Mark Meckler, July 26, 2020 (quote starting at 00:15)
- Alex Kotch, Groups Aligned with Right-Wing Megadonors Are Promoting Coronavirus Protests, Exposed by CMD, April 22, 2020
- Tina Nguyen, How a tea party-linked group plans to turbocharge lockdown protests, Politico, April 24, 2020
- David Armiak, Convention of States Fires Up Base for Push to Rewrite U.S. Constitution, ExposedbyCMD, August 23, 2019.
- COS COS Internship Citizens for Self Governance, accessed May 9, 2019
- Sarah Kliff Medicare-for-all: Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s new bill, explained Vox Feb 26, 2019
- COS Blog Congress holds hearing on government takeover of the healthcare industry blog post, April 30, 2019
- Convention of the States, Battle Cry!, The BattleCry with Mark Meckler, April 14, 2019 (quote starting at 13:40)
- COS home organizational site, accessed April 22, 2019
- Jessia Taylor [Jim DeMint Ousted From Heritage Foundation In Major Shake-Up https://www.npr.org/2017/05/02/526617944/jim-demint-ousted-from-heritage-foundation-in-major-shake-up] NPR May 2, 2017
- Robert Schlesinger Medicine Man Salon via the Wayback Machine, Sept 13, 2007
- Carol Hulse Democrats Try to Break Grip of the Senate’s Dr. No New York Times July 28, 2008
- Alex Brown Tom Coburn Labels Himself a "Global Warming Denier" The Atlantic Aug 27, 2017
- Manhattan Institute Former Senator Tom Coburn Joins Manhattan Institute as Senior Fellow press release, Dec 16, 2016
- COS endorsements organizational site, accessed April 23, 2019
- Juliana Broad, Mock Constitutional Convention Reveals Far Right’s Vision for Rewriting the U.S. Constitution ExposedbyCMD, October 24, 2023.
- Convention of States Action, Financial Report December 31, 2019, Convention of States Action, December 31, 2019.
- Convention of States Action, 2022 IRS Form 990 organizational filing, November 1, 2023.
- Convention of States Action, 2021 IRS Form 990 organizational filing, October 24, 2022.
- Convention of States Action, 2020 IRS Form 990 organizational filing, November 3, 2021.
- Convention of States Action, 2019 IRS Form 990 organizational filing, November 6, 2020.
- Convention of States Action, 2018 IRS Form 990 organizational filing, November, 2019.
- Convention of States Action, 2017 IRS Form 990 organizational filing, November, 2018.
- Convention of States Action, 2016 IRS Form 990 organizational filing, September 26, 2017.
- Convention of States Action, 2015 IRS Form 990 organizational filing, November 11, 2016.
- Convention of States Action, 2014 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 11, 2015.
- COS home organizational site, accessed June 28, 2022.