America Rising

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America Rising is a United States political action committee (PAC) that produces opposition research on Democratic Party members.[1] It has also conducted research on career employees of the Environmental Protection Agency who have criticized president Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. America Rising is located in Arlington, Virginia.


America Rising was founded in March 2013 by Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign manager, Matt Rhoades.[2] Political strategist Tim Miller left the Republican National Committee (RNC) to join the clearinghouse. As of January 2014, between the PAC and the LLC run by fellow opposition research veteran Joe Pounder, the organization employed 47 people, full or part-time. CNN reported that America Rising would be split into two entities: a super PAC that aimed to spread negative stories about congressional Democratic incumbents and candidates through digital channels and earned media, and an LLC that would house a video library to be shared with GOP candidates, the RNC and other right-leaning groups. To avoid making illegal in-kind corporate contributions, the LLC would likely need to charge candidates for access to the library.[3] Pounder and Miller estimated it would have a budget of between $10 and $15 million for the 2013-2014 election cycle.[4]

Raj Shah, appointed to be White House Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications for Research in the Trump Administration in 2017, was also a co-founder of the PAC. He had been deputy research director at the RNC in 2012 and, from there, ultimately became the head of opposition research at the committee for the 2016 campaign. After 2012, he focused specifically on developing deep anti-Hillary Clinton playbooks for America Rising and the RNC.[5]

America Rising shares its office space and multiple current and former executives with Definers Public Affairs, an opposition research firm, and NTK Network, a digital news aggregator.[6]

2014 Senate races[edit]

In the 2014 Iowa senate race,America Rising released a split screen video of Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley being readied for a televised appearance alongside a similar video of former U.S. Senator John Edwards.[7] America Rising also released a video of Braley saying of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, "you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee."[8]

The campaign of Alaska U.S. Senator Mark Begich's reelection opponent,Dan Sullivan, used the identical opposition research files as did an outside group aligned with it. Their source was America Rising, which has a corporate political research arm that purveys its materials directly to campaigns, but it also sells to outside groups like Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS). "Everyone is paying for the same research, information, and then they can use it at their own discretion. Nobody's discussing how they want to deploy that information," said Tim Miller, America Rising's executive director. The Sullivan campaign also employed the same political consulting firm, Black Rock Group,[9] as did the Crossroads GPS sister organization, American Crossroads, a super PAC that had spent more than a million dollars on campaign ads attacking Begich or promoting Sullivan. Operatives Ed Gillespie and Karl Rove co-founded the two latter organizations.[10] One of the partners at Black Rock, Michael Dubke, is a strategist for Sullivan's campaign; another, Carl Forti, is the political director for American Crossroads. Miller and Dubke both contend their firms' arrangements do not violate the law because they each employ different workers on opposite sides of a firewall between the campaigns and the outside groups. Dubke said he works on some projects alongside Forti, but they don't interact on Alaska issues and Forti works out of a separate office for American Crossroads. A spokesman for the Sullivan campaign, Mike Anderson, failed to respond to a request to address how it ensures its vendors avoid violating coordination rules. He wrote: "There are very clear guidelines, and our campaign staff, consultants and vendors strictly adhere to them." The Federal Election Commission (FEC) avoids policing the relationships between outside groups and candidates, failing to bring enforcement, according to Larry Noble, the former general counsel for the FEC from 1987 to 2000. Nobel says the FEC's three Democrats and three Republicans frequently deadlock as they vote on whether or not to initiate investigations.[9] Ann Ravel, the frustrated vice chair of the FEC authored a 2014 New York Times op-ed about the stalemates entitled, "How Not to Enforce Campaign Laws." [11]

Trump administration[edit]

During the Trump administration, America Rising, through its lawyer, sought e-mails of career employees of the Environmental Protection Agency who criticized President Donald Trump or EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The e-mail requests provoked fears of political retribution and was described by critics as a witch hunt.[6]

America Rising Squared, a non-profit division of America Rising oversaw the targeting of environmental advocates such as Bill McKibben and Tom Steyer by deploying "trackers" to videotape them. Brian Rogers, executive director of America Rising Squared, said that the firm had focused on McKibben and Steyer because they "aggressively target conservative thought leaders."[6]

Doxing issues accusations[edit]

In 2018, Democratic candidates who have worked for the US government and filed mandatory "SF-86" forms with sensitive personal information accused the group of using the information publicly as a campaign strategy by Republicans. [12] [13] [14]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Moody, Chris (February 20, 2015). "Political dirt digger joins Jeb Bush PAC". CNN. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Weigel, David, "The Republican PAC that’s filming every single thing that key Democratic candidates do or say", Slate Magazine, January 13, 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  3. ^ Blumenthal, Paul, "America Rising GOP Research Super PAC Launches With Romney Campaign Manager At Helm", The Huffington Post, March 21, 2013. With link to Hamby, Peter, "Romney campaign chief to lead new GOP research group", CNN, March 21st, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  4. ^ Ward, Jon, "Destroying The Opposition Is A Business For the Right, A Cause For The Left", The Huffington Post, January 25, 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  5. ^ Krasselt, Kaitlyn, "Norwalk’s Raj Shah forged his own political path", The Hour (Norwalk, CT), January 16, 2017. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  6. ^ a b c Lipton, Eric; Friedman, Lisa; Vogel, Kenneth P. (December 17, 2017). "E.P.A. Employees Spoke Out. Then Came Scrutiny of Their Email." The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2017. 
  7. ^ Goddard, Taegan, "I feel pretty", Political Wire, August 21, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Sean. "Why Bruce Braley's 'farmer from Iowa' remark hit a nerve back home". Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Despite similar messages, Senate campaigns say there's no coordination with outside groups, Anchorage Daily News, Nathaniel Herz, September 28, 2016. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  10. ^ American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS, Fact Check, Brooks Jackson, September 18, 2011. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  11. ^ How Not to Enforce Campaign Laws, New York Times, Ann M. Ravel, April 2, 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
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