CNN contributor Van Jones is no conservative. Yet, his name popped up on the guest speaker's list for this year's Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland. CPAC is the largest gathering of conservatives of the year and in recent years has featured speeches from White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, Vice President Pence, and even President Trump. So, what's Jones doing there?
According to the CPAC schedule, he'll be participating on a panel on criminal justice reform with ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp. The discussion, entitled, "A Conversation on Criminal Justice Reform With Van Jones and Matt Schlapp," will be moderated by the Daily Caller's Saagar Enjeti. Jones is the co-founder of #cut50, a bipartisan initiative "to reduce the number of people in our prisons and jails while making our communities safer."
Knowing Jones's heart for reform, Trump invited him to a White House meeting last year. He joked that he and Jones haven't always gotten along, but he clearly appreciated him being there. After their conversations, Jones commended Trump for being "tough" on prison reform.
Trump has given Jones and other prison reform advocates reason to celebrate, particularly when he granted clemency to Alice Johnson. Johnson, 63, who was serving a life sentence for a first time, nonviolent drug offense, first caught the eye of Kim Kardashian West. The celebrity was moved by the great grandmother's story and appealed to the president for her release. Trump was moved too, it seems. Upon her release, a tearful Johnson thanked Trump for the second chance.
He didn't stop there. A few months later Trump helped pass the First Step Act, which, in part, eases mandatory minimum sentences for inmates. One of his guests at this month's State of the Union was Matthew Charles, the first person released from prison under the legislation.
CPAC will be held Wednesday, Feb. 27 to Saturday, March 2.