- A group attacking Critical Race Theory is linked to Trump aides Newt Gingrich and Ben Carson during the Virginia governor’s race.
- The group, 1776 Action, is a non-profit “black money” organization that is not required to publicly disclose its donors.
- Before this year, it was known as the American Heritage Center. It targeted Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election and congressional Democrats during the 2018 midterms.
One group that fueled attacks on critical race theory during Virginia’s hotly contested gubernatorial race has links to several allies of former President Donald Trump, including Newt Gingrich and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
The group, 1776 Action, is a 501(c)(4) non-profit “black money” organization that is not required to publicly disclose its donors. Gingrich and Carson themselves are not listed among the group’s leaders, although people close to them – including family members and former top aides – have leadership roles.
Before this year, it was known as the American Heritage Center. It targeted Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election and congressional Democrats during the 2018 midterms.
According to their public 990 forms reviewed by CNBC, the organization raised more than $2.3 million from 2014 to 2019. Records for 2020 and 2021 are not yet available. The 1776 action did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment prior to publication.
The organization, which it says is committed to preventing “anti-American indoctrination”, is positioned to continue its message through the midterms of next year and then perhaps the race of 2024 as conservative forces increasingly critical race. Aims at principle.
The group’s rebranding as new fronts in the conservative-liberal culture war over teaching about race and racism in schools.
Critical race theory is an academic approach to studying the effects of racism. It is taught at the college and graduate school level. Conservatives recently used the term to refer to any anti-racism discussion or even . done to describe No mention of caste in schools. Republicans have largely opposed the teaching of critical race theory, and it was a key issue in the Virginia election.
The 1776 Action took its name from Trump’s own 1776 Commission, a White House initiative that called his work a rebuttal of “reckless ‘re-education’ efforts that seek to redefine American history around the idea that The United States is not an extraordinary country, but a rogue of the number one.”
Republican Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia gubernatorial race after the campaign, in part, insisted on banning the teaching of critical race theory in Commonwealth schools. While Youngkin held Trump at arm’s length, the former president was vocal in his support of the candidate and fighting critical race theory education.
In September 1776, the logo of Action was featured in a Virginia event called the “Rally to Save Our Schools”. Youngkin said during rally that he would ban teaching Critical race theory if he became governor. Carson also spoke at the event.
The event’s banner featured logos from other similar groups, such as the Virginia-based political action committee Fight for School, which opposes the teaching of critical race theory. Data from the Virginia Public Access Project shows that the 1776 Action Group contributed $10,000 to the PAC this year, one of their most recent top donors. Two outside groups affiliated with Trump also gave the Fight for Schools PAC.
1776 Action also published Showing a video of over nine minutes What the group says is that Virginia parents are emphasizing the teaching of important race theory.
The American Legacy Center was established in 2014. Virginia state records show an original board including Adam Waldeck, who served on Gingrich’s 2012 campaign for president. Waldeck is now president of the 1776 Action. Waldeck was the Executive Director of American Heritage from its inception through 2019. Stephen Passantino, who became deputy White House counsel under Trump, is listed as the attorney who represented the group when it filed its articles of incorporation.
Waldeck recently discussed the 1776 action on Gingrich’s podcast. waldeck told Gingrich that Hannah Smith, who won a school board seat in Texas and opposed the teaching of critical race theory, Now a member of their advisory board. The interview also highlights a text messaging campaign launched by the group during Virginia’s elections this year.
Mike Murray, who will serve as a senior advisor to Carson’s 2016 campaign for president, served on the board of the American Legacy Center from 2015 to 2017. Murray also worked on Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.
Murray is now CEO of TMA Direct, a data management company that has worked for Carson’s campaign, and American Legacy PAC, a political action committee affiliated with the American Legacy Center. American Heritage Pac was allegedly Co-founded by Gingrich. Murray is not listed as a leader on the website of the 1776 Action.
Carson’s son Benjamin Carson Jr. joined American Heritage’s board beginning in 2016 and remains on it until 2019, as of 2019 by 990 forms. 1776 Action’s website lists Carson Jr. Son as a member of its board of directors.
A 2016 disclosure lists Vincent Haley, another board member who would work for the Trump administration. He resigned from the group in 2017 to join the White House. According to disclosure reports, Haley worked exclusively as an “advisory to policy, strategy and speechwriting” as a deputy assistant to the president.
Haley’s first financial disclosure during her Trump administration tenure also reflects her relationship with Gingrich. Her filing states that before joining the Trump campaign, Haley was a vice president at Gingrich Productions. He also had previous experience working as a producer for the “Billy Graham Film Project, LLC”. Graham was a widely influential Christian evangelist who died in 2018.
Haley is not listed as a member of the 1776 Action Board.
Ryan Rhodes, a former member of Carson’s 2016 campaign, is on the board of 1776 Action and also served on the board of the American Legacy Center.
Although the American Legacy Center does not list its donors publicly, according to Federal Election Commission filings, operatives associated with it helped fund Republican campaigns. Murray was treasurer of the affiliated American Heritage PAC since it was launched in 2010 through most of the 2016 elections. Waldeck was treasurer for some time before PAC closed in 2017.
The PAC contributed to Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012 and Trump’s effort in 2016, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. From the 2012 to the 2018 midterms, American Legacy PACs gave more than $280,000 to Republican candidates.
PAC raised more than $9 million from its construction until its closure in 2017. Top donors over the years included Jennifer Pritzker – a member of the wealthy Pritzker family – and Murray, along with other employees of her data firm TMA Direct. Murray’s company received over $325,000 from PAC before closing.
While the American Legacy PAC is closed, its related organization, the American Legacy Center, took a pro-Trump stance in the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.
During the 2016 campaign, the group targeted Clinton for her handling of the 2012 attack on a US compound in Benghazi, Libya, when she was secretary of state. In two ads posted to its still-active YouTube account, the group exploded with remarks from Cristian “Tanto” Paronto on Clinton, which were part of the security detail defending against the attack. They two spot The polls were published in the summer of 2016, months before Clinton was defeated.
According to the Internet archive The Wayback Machine, a website sponsored by the American Legacy Center at the time lists Paranto as president.
The ad calls on viewers to “put America first,” echoes one of Trump’s slogans, and “forces its members of Congress to do their jobs.” It ends by encouraging people to visit a website called “Sovereign Now”. The archived site’s text says, “The 2018 midterm elections offer a clear choice between President Trump’s strong borders and vision of restoring American sovereignty and the radical leftist approach of open borders and ending ICE.”