America First Policies

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America First Policies
America First Policies Logo horizontal.svg
FoundedJanuary 27, 2017; 4 years ago (2017-01-27)
Legal status501(c)(4)
Key people
Linda McMahon (Chair)[1]
Brian O. Walsh (President)[2]

America First Policies is an organization created to promote the America First policy agenda of the Donald Trump presidential campaign.[3][4]

On March 30, 2017, Katie Walsh, formerly White House Deputy Chief of Staff, left that position to join America First Policies.[5]


America First Policies was founded by several people, including Nick Ayers, a Republican consultant who is regarded as Mike Pence's top political adviser,[6] Rick Gates and Brad Parscale.[7]

America First Policies and its affiliated super PAC, America First Action, have faced criticism for their high turnover of GOP givers.[8][9]

Trump Presidential Campaign donor Rebekah Mercer disagreed with Parscale about the direction of America First Policies. According to investigative journalist Vicky Ward, Mercer wanted America First Policies' data engine to be Cambridge Analytica, which would have effectively given her organizational control and potentially influence over the Republican Party. If Mercer had control over the organization's database and the money, Mercer could have led the organization to sway President's supporters against the President.[10] Parscale aggressively sought to establish himself as leader of the group and commented in an early meeting that although he meant "no disrespect" to the Mercer family, the focus of America First Policies ought to be on Donald Trump and his political movement, rather than on the Mercers.[11][12]

America First Action Super PAC[edit]

America First Action
FoundedApril 12, 2017; 4 years ago (2017-04-12)
Legal statusSuper PAC (527 organization)
Key people
Linda McMahon (Chair),
Brian O. Walsh (President)[1]

In the 2016 and 2018 elections, four Trump-related Super PACs received donations from 38 people who gave over $500,000 each. To consolidate these efforts, America First Action was created for 2020. It is the only Trump-related group permitted to collect unlimited donations in 2020. However, as of August 2020, only six of the previous 38 top donors contributed to America First.[13]

The legally separate America First Action (as opposed to "Policies") Super PAC serves a similar function of promoting Trump's policies under the "America First" theme, but due to its legal status may expressly advocate for the election or defeat of particular candidates (rather than only advocating for policies), and must disclose its donors. Both organizations have overlapping personnel (such as the chair, president, and communications director).[1][2]

In 2019, the America First Action super PAC created a website called the American Herald, which was misleadingly portrayed by the Trump 2020 campaign as an independent news outlet.[14]

In the 2018 midterm election cycle, the Super PAC spent $29 million.[15] As of the end of March 2020, it had reported spending $9 million during the 2020 election cycle.[16]

Nearly $1M of  America First Action's spending went to a company run by Parscale's wife, Candice Parscale, in possible violation of Federal Electoral Commission laws.[17]


It was reported in May 2018 that CVS Health, Dow Chemical, and Southern Company had donated a combined $1.6 million to America First Policies.[18][19]

Targeted campaigns[edit]

On June 23, 2017, Republican Senator Dean Heller was targeted with an advertising campaign over his opposition to the Obamacare repeal bill. Heller was considered to be vulnerable in the 2018 election,[20] and ultimately lost to Democratic challenger Jackie Rosen.[21]


America First Policies' Director for Advocacy, Carl Higbie was forced to resign as head of Corporation for National and Community Service (an organization which runs AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, Senior Corps, and other national service initiatives) to which he had been appointed by Donald Trump, after making racist and inflammatory comments on a radio talk show about black Americans, Muslims, women, LGBT people, veterans suffering from PTSD and immigrants, which included advocating violence. Higbie also pushed the false Birther conspiracy about Barack Obama.[22][23] In a 2018 tweet, Higbie apologized for his comments.[24]

On May 10, 2018, it became public that the group's policy advisor, Juan Pablo Andrade, was a Nazi sympathizer, after he was recorded on a Snapchat video saying that "the only thing the Nazis didn't get right was that they didn't keep fucking going."[25] Andrade has been on Trump's National Hispanic Advisory Council, Trump's National Diversity Coalition and the Trump campaign as a surrogate.[26] He also wrote for The Hill, but the outlet dropped him when it learned of the video and its contents.[27]

Later that month, it was reported that John Loudon, a policy advisor for the group, used inflammatory and derogatory language against women, Muslims and Democrats.[28] He suggested that Obama was a Kenyan-born Muslim.[28]

In May 2018, CVS Health and Dow Chemical announced that they would not contribute more money to America First Policies, citing racist and bigoted comments by the staff at America First Policies.[19] This announcement followed a report stating that three Fortune 500 companies, including CVS Health and Dow Chemical, had contributed to America First Policies.[29]

America First Policies was part of a web of dark money activist groups that funded caravans to Washington for the rally before the 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters.[30]


  1. ^ a b c "Leadership". America First Action SuperPAC. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b "America First Policies Starts Anti-Impeachment Ads in Pennsylvania, Michigan". America First Policies. 29 January 2020. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  3. ^ Zarroli, Jim (January 31, 2017). "Trump Political Advisers Now Raising Money For His 'America First' Agenda". NPR. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  4. ^ Bykowicz, Julie (January 30, 2017). "Trump advisers start 'America First Policies' nonprofit". Associated Press News. Associated Press. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  5. ^ Miller, Zeke J.; Elliott, Philip (March 30, 2017). "White House Deputy Chief of Staff Leaves for Pro-Trump Group". Time. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  6. ^ Thrush, Glenn; Martin, Jonathan (June 27, 2017). "On Senate Health Bill, Trump Falters in the Closer's Role". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  7. ^ Nowlin, Sanford. "After Ushering the Trump Circus Into The White House, Brad Parscale Is Turning His Megaphone on San Antonio".
  8. ^ Balcerzak, Ashley (18 February 2019). "Inside Donald Trump's army of super PACs and MAGA nonprofits". Public Radio International. The Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Trump political machine sets massive fundraising target". America First Action SuperPAC. 9 May 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  10. ^ Ward, Vicky (March 17, 2017). "The Blow-It-All-Up Billionaires". HuffPost. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  11. ^ Goldmacher, Shane (19 December 2016). "Trump advisers spar over new political arm". Politico. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  12. ^ Goldmacher, Shane (13 March 2017). "Trump's political group plagued by power struggle". Politico. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  13. ^ Thrush, Glenn; Ruiz, Rebecca R.; Yourish, Karen (2020-08-16). "Trump's Policies Are a Boon to the Super Rich. So Where Are All the Seven-Figure Checks?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  14. ^ Sollenberger, Roger (2020-08-12). "Pro-Trump "News" Site Is Run by Trump's Super PAC". Truthout. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  15. ^ "Organizations Disclosing Donations to America First Action, 2018 | OpenSecrets". Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Organizations Disclosing Donations to America First Action, 2020 | OpenSecrets". Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Trump PAC paid $$$$ to firm owned by campaign manager's wife". The Mercury News. 2019-08-30. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  18. ^ "Southern Co., CVS, Dow Chemical Funding Trump Dark Money Group Tied to Racist, Anti-Semitic Views". Retrieved 2018-06-02.
  19. ^ a b Andrew Kaczynski; Chris Massie; Nathan McDermott. "CVS Health and Dow Chemical will no longer donate to pro-Trump advocacy group". CNN. Retrieved 2018-06-02.
  20. ^ Nussbaum, Matthew; Isenstadt, Alex (June 23, 2017). "Pro-Trump group to target GOP Sen. Heller over health care bill". Politico. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  21. ^ "Nevada | Full Senate results". Retrieved Feb 7, 2021.
  22. ^ Kaczynski, Andrew (January 19, 2018). "Trump appointee resigns as public face of agency that runs AmeriCorps after KFile review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments on the radio". CNN. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  23. ^ Rosenberg, Eli (January 18, 2018). "'I just don't like Muslim people': Trump appointee resigns after racist, sexist and anti-gay remarks". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  24. ^ Kaczynski, Andrew. "Trump appointee resigns as public face of agency that runs AmeriCorps after KFile review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments on the radio". CNN. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  25. ^ Ecarma, Caleb (May 10, 2018). "Policy Advisor For Trump-Tied 'America First' Group Praises Nazis: They Should've Kept 'Going'". Mediaite. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  26. ^ Blest, Paul (May 10, 2018). "Advisor For Trump-Linked Nonprofit Thinks the Nazis Were Great". Splinter News. Gizmodo Media Group. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  27. ^ Levine, Jon (May 10, 2018). "The Hill Drops Pro-Trump Contributor After Remarks About Nazis". TheWrap. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  28. ^ a b McDermott, Nathan; Kaczynski, Andrew; Massie, Chris (May 21, 2018). "Policy adviser for Trump-linked group called Obama 'Islamchurian candidate,' joked about 'crack whore Dem voter'". CNN. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  29. ^ Perez, Andrew (June 3, 2018). "Southern Co. Joins Dow, CVS in Cutting Off Support for Pro-Trump Dark Money Organization". MapLight. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  30. ^ Schwartz, Brian. "Pro-Trump dark money groups organized the rally that led to deadly Capitol Hill riot". CNBC.

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