America First Policies
|Founded||January 27, 2017|
|Linda McMahon (Chair) |
Brian O. Walsh (President)
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. 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.
America First Action Super PAC
|Founded||April 12, 2017|
|Legal status||Super PAC (527 organization)|
|Linda McMahon (Chair), |
Brian O. Walsh (President)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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, and ultimately lost to Democratic challenger Jackie Rosen.
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. In a 2018 tweet, Higbie apologized for his comments.
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." Andrade has been on Trump's National Hispanic Advisory Council, Trump's National Diversity Coalition and the Trump campaign as a surrogate. He also wrote for The Hill, but the outlet dropped him when it learned of the video and its contents.
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. He suggested that Obama was a Kenyan-born Muslim.
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. This announcement followed a report stating that three Fortune 500 companies, including CVS Health and Dow Chemical, had contributed to America First Policies.
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.
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