GOP presidential hopefuls met with donors on sly

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 30, 2014 at 4:41 pm •  Published: April 30, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Far from public scrutiny, Republican presidential hopefuls, high-powered donors and other national political and business leaders gathered last month at a five-star resort in Georgia for a secretive meeting to discuss the midterm elections, foreign policy and the economy.

Details of the event organized by the think tank the American Enterprise Institute were revealed this week by the Center for Public Integrity, which obtained a copy of the program and other materials.

Attendees during the three-day meeting in early March at The Cloister in Sea Island, Ga., reportedly included such potential 2016 presidential hopefuls as Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Others listed on the program: former Vice President Dick Cheney; former CIA Director David Petraeus; major Republican donor and former Amway President Dick DeVos; TD Ameritrade founder Joe Rickets; GOP strategist Karl Rove; Apple CEO Tim Cook; and Scott Carpenter, the deputy director of Google Ideas.

Three Republicans — Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels — were slated to lead a discussion titled "How to Fix the States."

Judy Mayka Stecker, a spokeswoman for the American Enterprise Institute, declined to answer specific questions about the "World Forum" gathering, which AEI has hosted annually since 1982. She described the meeting as "an informal gathering of leading thinkers from all ideological backgrounds to discuss challenges facing our world in economics, security and social welfare."

In an email, Stecker said: "To maintain intellectual freedom and free discourse, the event is private and off the record, therefore we do not comment further on the content or attendees."