Allies of President Donald Trump are reportedly working to meddle in the 2020 Democratic Party primary for president.
According to BuzzFeed News, two pro-Trump outside spending groups are working together with a top tier GOP political action committee in order to develop research in an effort that’s been categorized as an attempt to “smother Democrats seeking to challenge [Trump]” and somewhat more audaciously “help pick his 2020 challenger.”
Per that report:
America First Policies and its affiliated super PAC have made significant investments in the opposition group America Rising, funding their efforts to dig into the top Democratic contenders — along with some second-tier candidates — and prep opposition research books on all of them, according to five sources involved or familiar with the plans.
America First Policies (AFP) is registered as a 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit and was incorporated in early 2017 by Michael Adams for the purposes of promoting Trump’s domestic policy agenda. One perk of such a registration is that 501(c)(4) group’s have no affirmative obligation to disclose their donors.
In March of 2017, former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh joined AFP–which is considered part of a revolving door between the Trump White House, the perpetual Trump campaign and the nonprofit industrial complex.
“The group has spent millions of dollars on campaign-style ads touting President Trump and his policies on taxes, healthcare, and more,” according to the The Brennan Center for Justice‘s Nirali Vyas. “Its proximity to the nation’s most powerful elected office makes AFP the most urgent example of a growing practice and problem: elected officials who use nonprofits to raise unlimited advertising funds from secret donors.”
AFP also has an affiliated Super PAC registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). According to FEC and OpenSecrets data, AFP’s American First Action SuperPAC spent nearly $30 million during the 2018 midterm elections.
America Rising is a political action committee with longstanding ties to the Republican Party establishment–and was founded by Mitt Romney‘s former 2012 presidential campaign manager Matt Rhoades in March 2013.
The plural marriage between the three outside spending groups, therefore, is something of a surrender for the GOP establishment as it aims to work closely with Trump’s inner circle of advisors.
Aides close to the effort surveyed by BuzzFeed say the collaboration with America Rising will be used to slam Democratic presidential contenders considered particularly challenging to President Trump. Their ultimate goal is to weaken the presumed-to-be large Democratic Party field and effectively choose the Democratic nominee most vulnerable to Trump.
“This is going to be a gigantic field and going to require an aggressive effort from Republicans,” an unnamed GOP source told BuzzFeed News.
“[The other groups] are important partners of America First, and we’ve already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to help build a robust, substantive research operation for 2020,” America First spokesperson Erin Montgomery told the outlet.
And the GOP’s no longer warring factions apparently consider the collaboration a ripe opportunity for Trump’s stalwart supporters to get their hands dirty by directly interfering in the 2020 Democratic Party primary.
“President Trump has the ability to infect the psyche of Democrats in a way that no politician has had the power to do,” GOP strategist Andy Surabian told BuzzFeed, citing Senator Elizabeth Warren‘s buying into Trump’s attacks on her claimed Native American ancestry viz. last year’s DNA test blunder. “He knows what to say to get in their heads.”
[Image via Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images]
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