On June 26, 2021, former US President Donald Trump reacted at the first presidential campaign rally held at the Lorraine County Outdoor Market in Wellington, Ohio, USA.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
A dark money group that used to promote the policies of former President Donald Trump is joining forces with a think tank, which is partly led by former key members of his administration, including Larry Kudlow and Linda McMahon.
The U.S. First Policy was introduced after Trump’s 2016 victory and was previously known as the U.S. First Policy. After Trump’s re-election campaign failed, it reformed and changed its name.
According to Trump campaign veteran Ashley Hayek (Ashley Hayek), the organization is now working directly with another newly formed non-profit organization think tank, the American Priority Policy Institute, and he is the leader of America Priority Jobs. He is also the chief participation officer of the think tank.
Other leaders of the AFPI think tank include:
- Brooke Rollins, the former chief domestic policy director of the Trump White House
- Chairman of the Board of Directors McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, and former head of Trump’s Small Business Administration
- Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors Kudlow, former Director of the National Economic Council under Trump
The law requires that neither America First Works nor America First Policy Institute publicly disclose their donors. America First Works has provided funding to a group that claims to help enact the voting law in Georgia and another organization that is pushing for changes to the constitution to further restrict the power of the federal government.
The cooperation of these groups comes as Trump is considering running for the White House again in 2024. They can provide another platform for Trump and his allies to make his “America First” agenda the center of attention. Members of the think tank have been publicly promoting these pro-Trump policies through columns, interviews, and pre-recorded videos.
Although it is not clear how much cash AFPI has on hand, Axios reports that its first-year budget is $20 million. It was launched earlier this year. According to its annual 990 tax return, America First Works has slightly more than $7 million in assets at the end of 2020.
America First Works is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, which can participate in some partisan politics according to the law, while the US First Policy Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which should be non-partisan by law. The organization claims on its website that, despite being consistent with the former president, it is non-partisan.
Hayek told CNBC that America First Works was established “as a new organization that works closely with AFPI” and “an extension of AFPI. It is fully focused on advancing policies at all levels of government, including promoting economic opportunities, school choices, and affordability.” Health care, foster care reforms, election integrity, and criminal justice reforms.”
Trump himself publicly supports the American Priority Policy Institute.
The former president spoke at a celebration for the non-profit organization at his private Sealake estate in Florida earlier this month. According to a video of his speech, although he promoted his achievements during his tenure, some people cheered for “Let’s Go to Brandon”, which is used by pro-Trump conservatives to express “F*** k The slogan of “Joe Biden” was created by the group. Trump also targeted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him the “old crow.”
The First Policy Institute of the United States stated that its research focuses on analyzing the policies Trump and his allies call “America First.” They postponed the content of President Joe Biden’s agenda, including how his government handled illegal border crossings and the Covid vaccine authorization for private companies. The organization recently released a video attacking Biden’s choice of currency controller Saule Omarova (Saule Omarova), her upbringing has been attacked, and her policy philosophy has been criticized.
The think tank’s policy priorities include criminal justice reform, counterattack against large technology companies, and lower taxes. The organization also listed “election integrity” and “critical racial theory” as their focus areas.
The organization supports a voting law recently passed in Texas, which critics say restricts access to the ballot box. In a column published on the AFPI website, the leaders of the think tank called on parents to fight back against the teachings of critical racial theory, a university and graduate scholar who studies the impact of racism on American systems and policies. It became a hot issue used by Republican Glenn Youngin in the successful governorship campaign in Virginia.
Expanding influence network
According to the latest 990 document submitted by AFW, last year, nearly half of the nearly US$40 million in grants from the first plant in the United States went to its affiliated super PAC, the first action in the United States. America First Works also donates to other conservative organizations that continue to have an impact across the country. This document was first reported by the Public Integrity Center.
Previous tax records show that America First Works (formerly America First Policies) has never issued so much cash in a year. Form 990 shows that as of the end of 2020, it is also chaired by McMahon. Longtime Republican agent Brian O. Walsh is listed as the president of the organization.
The non-profit organization’s fundraising year also hit a record high, with a fundraising amount of slightly more than 50 million U.S. dollars, which listed the highest personal donation of 5 million U.S. dollars. Just like other black money groups, the first factory in the United States does not need to publicly disclose the names of its donors. MapLight reports that corporate donors to previous US priority policies include the utility company Southern Company, CVS Health, and Dow Chemical.
Last year, America First Works donated $994,000 to Heritage Action, a conservative organization dedicated to opposing policies that usually align with the Democratic Party.
The Legacy Action also claims to help enact voting laws, and advocates say restrict access to the ballot box. Mother Jones obtained a video showing Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Legacy Action, telling donors how the organization helped Georgia and other states make such laws.
“In some cases, we actually drafted it for them, or we have a sentinel to provide them with model legislation on our behalf, so it has a grassroots, bottom-up atmosphere,” Anderson said in the recording.
Heritage Action’s website is aimed at the “For the People Act”, also known as HR 1, which was proposed by the Democratic Party and passed in the House of Representatives. Democrats said the legislation will help people get better into the ballot box. Since the Democrats do not have enough votes to overcome the Republican obstruction bill, it is unlikely to be passed in the Senate. The site provides scripts for anyone interested in voluntarily convening representatives of the House or Senate to oppose Democratic bills.
America First Works also donated $250,000 to an organization called the National Action Convention, which has been pushing state lawmakers to convene a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit the power of the government.
“Washington D.C. has collapsed. The federal government is throwing this country underground, taking power from the states, and freedom from the people. Now is the time for our people to oppose tyranny through a concerted national effort to contain the federal government from being unconstrained. And growing power,” said the Pocket Guide to the National Action Pact. The organization’s website states that more than a dozen states have passed national resolution conventions that may lead to Article 5 conventions.
The New American Populists are a non-profit organization that claims to “empower citizens and encourage greater participation in government processes” and received more than $1 million from America First Works in 2020.
According to data from the Non-Party Response Political Center, the organization’s president, Jeff Webb, also funded two Republican super political action committees, one of which has the same name as the non-profit organization he runs. Weber is the founder of the cheerleading company Varsity Spirit and the chairman of the International Cheerleading League.
Weber in Tennessee has ties to Trump’s ally Charlie Kirk and his own organization Turning Point USA, a non-profit organization that tries to promote conservative voices on high schools and college campuses.
Weber gave a speech at the Turning Point Student Action Summit earlier this year. His speech was aimed at progressive people, saying that they wanted to change capitalism.
“The real goal of the left is to reshape American capitalism. Let us move to a more socialist model. The American economic engine operates more like the European system. They do this in the name of fairness,” Weber told the crowd at the time.
Weber joined Kirk in the American Turning Point podcast in March, among other things, discussing how populism gained power in the Republican Party after Trump’s defeat.
“I think the populist movement within the party is undoubtedly winning. And it is irreversible,” Weber said at the time.
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