Turning Point USA

Libertarian, Free-Market, Small Government, Breitbart News former writer Charlie Kirk, founder, Worked for the Trump Campaign; TPUSA advisory council, Trump Campaign Texan fundraisers Gentry Beach and Thomas Hicks, Jr., “Charlie Kirk’s father is allegedly Robert W. Kirk, the project architect manager for Trump Tower in New York City.”IBT; Fox News; Islamophobia; Campus Victory student elections

A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity New Yorker December 21, 2017 “Internal documents that I obtained, as well as interviews with former employees, suggest that the group may have skirted campaign-finance laws that bar charitable organizations from participating in political activity. Former employees say that they were directed to work with prominent conservatives, including the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in aid of Republican Presidential candidates in 2016. Perhaps most troubling for an organization that holds up conservatives as the real victims of discrimination in America, Turning Point USA is also alleged to have fostered an atmosphere that is hostile to minorities. Screenshots provided to me by a source show that Crystal Clanton, who served until last summer as the group’s national field director, sent a text message to another Turning Point employee saying, “i hate black people. Like fuck them all . . . I hate blacks. End of story.” Clanton, who resigned after serving as the group’s second-highest official for five years, at first declined to comment….Gabrielle Fequiere, a former Turning Point employee, told me that she was the only African-American hired as a field director when she worked with the group, three years ago.”

The Parkland Provocateur Kyle Kashuv Prepares to Graduate How did the Harvard-bound shooting survivor, a former leader of the young-conservative organization Turning Point USA, react when his racial slurs and hate speech surfaced online? New Yorker By

Who Funds Conservative Campus Group Turning Point USA? Donors Revealed IBT

Conservative campus group Turning Point USA is opposed to “safe spaces” — except when it comes to the generosity of its donors. Charlie Kirk, the group’s 24-year-old founder, has claimed his organization has campus chapters at 1,000 colleges and universities and raised more than $5 million in 2016. Earlier this year, leaked records revealed TPUSA efforts to secretly funnel thousands of dollars into multiple college student government elections to elect conservatives.

The sources of much of that money have been a mystery, and how much some known sources give is still unknown. “To answer your question, no I will not disclose private giving amounts,” Kirk told International Business Times in an email.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, TPUSA is not required to disclose its donors. But based on public tax records and some reporting by other outlets, IBT has identified the sources of over $900,000 in funding for TPUSA. Republican mega-donor families, GOP politicians and other wealthy individuals have provided large amounts of money so the organization can spread free-market principles — from which the donors benefit — among young people, the majority of whom, overall, lean liberal.

The group’s motto is “Big Government Sucks; its mission, “to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.” TPUSA recruits “free market activists,” creates “innovative grassroots messaging,” puts out publications and hosts conferences….

Some of the biggest donations came from rich families in the Chicago area, where TPUSA is based. From 2014 to 2016, the Ed Uihlein Foundation gave TPUSA $275,000, including $175,000 in 2016. Richard Uihlein, the founder of a lucrative shipping business [Uline] and president of this foundation named after his father, is a Republican mega-donor and a “free-markets, smaller-government crusader”from the Chicago area. He and his wife, Elizabeth, spent $23.7 million on politics during the 2016 election cycle, the ninth-highest total in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Richard Uihlein made 6- and 7-figure donations to many independent political spending groups including the Unintimidated PAC, which supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund; and Club For Growth Action. Uihlein is America’s top donor to outside spending groups in the current election cycle.

The family foundation of Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a former private equity executive worth an estimated $500 million, gave TPUSA $150,000 from 2014 to 2015, according to tax records. Uihlein spent nearly $3 million in 2014 to help elect Rauner. The governor, with help from his wealthy friends, is trying to remake Illinois into a conservative-dominated state.

The family foundation of healthcare products company CEO Vince Foglia and his wife Pat, based in the Chicago area, donated $210,000 to TPUSA from 2013 to 2014. Foglia is a frequent donor to Republican campaigns, including $55,000 to Rauner in 2014 and donations to former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, who is a member of the TPUSA advisory council.

In 2015, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus’ foundation donated $72,600 to TPUSA. Marcus is a major GOP donor, having given $5 million to the pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now and millions more to spending groups affiliated with the Republican House and Senate during the 2016 cycle.

TPUSA advisory council member Gary Rabine, an Illinois-based roofing and paving CEO, is a donor, Kirk told IBT.

Other GOP mega-donors to the group include the Henry and Lynde Bradley Foundation ($20,000 from 2015 to 2016), the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, named after the in-laws of current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos ($10,000 in 2015), and Foster Friess, a Wyoming-based investment manager known for his 2012 comments about “gals” putting aspirin “between their knees” as a mode of contraception. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has encouraged Freiss to run for U.S. Senate. IBT did not find public records of Friess’ donations, but Bloomberg reported that Freiss, who is on TPUSA’s advisory council, gave Kirk a “five-figure check.” Freiss made least $3.4 million in contributions in federal political races since the 2012 election cycle, according to Buzzfeed News.

Other donors identified by IBT include:

Mike Leven, a TPUSA adviser and former CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation whose Michael and Andrea Leven Family Foundation gave the group $50,000 in 2015. Leven was vice-chair of the Marcus Foundation as of 2015.
Illinois-based finance executive Peter Huizenga ($50,000 in 2014, according to The Atlantic )
Chicago jeweler and TPUSA adviser Mike Miller ($50,000 in 2014, according to Bloomberg )
Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking ($20,000 in 2014)
The Einhorn Family Foundation ($5,000 in 2015). Venture capitalist Stephen Einhorn is a TPUSA adviser.
According to a book co-authored by Kirk, TPUSA has also received unknown amounts of money from Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte, who is known for assaulting a reporter during a campaign event this year; Allie and Lee Hanley (Allie Hanley is a TPUSA adviser, and Lee Hanley is deceased); Tom Patrick; and the late Jack Roeser.

Kirk would not disclose amounts but told IBT that most members of the TPUSA advisory council “are financially supportive on a varying degree of support.” While IBT did not discover records of contributions from TPUSA advisory council member Doug Deason, a big donor to Republican candidates whose father is worth $1.3 billion, he is likely an important donor to TPUSA.

In addition to traditional funders, TPUSA has a host of event sponsors, many of which are key organizations in the right-wing advocacy movement such as the conservative public policy think tank Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom and the libertarian think tank the Reason Foundation. Kirk said event sponsors typically top out at $5,000-$10,000.

Just a few weeks ago, Dennis Prager CEO of digital media organization PragerU, a TPUSA sponsor — spoke at a TPUSA event at the University of Wyoming.

Another TPUSA sponsor, the National Rifle Association, visits TPUSA campus events to “speak about the constitution,” said Kirk. In October, the NRA participated in an event at the University of Arizona.

Sponsors of TPUSA’s recent Western Regional Conference, which featured speakers including former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro and Benny Johnson, now a Daily Caller reporter known for his previous plagiarizing, include nonprofits to which TPUSA funders also donate.

TPUSA’s upcoming Student Action Summit in December [2017] has additional sponsors including the Reason Foundation, the Koch-connected Generation Opportunity Institute and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Most featured speakers listed on the event page are either Trump insiders, Fox News employees, or both; speakers include Donald Trump Jr., former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, former White House press secretary Anthony Scaramucci, former Trump White House adviser and current Fox News “national security strategist” Sebastian Gorka, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade, Fox News host Greg Gutfield, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, Fox News contributor and pro-Trump nonprofit employee Tomi Lahren, Fox News host Jesse Waters and Fox News contributor Guy Benson. Some speakers listed on the event page and other not listed are not affiliated with Fox or the Trump administration, Kirk said.

The events are being held in West Palm Beach, Florida, the town that is home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, but Kirk says his summit will take place at the Palm Beach Convention Center. Kirk said that “one of our supporters is thinking of hosting a small dinner early that week at Mar-a-Lago, but nothing [is] finalized and not officially part of [the Student Action Summit],” and that he could end up attending the dinner.

The organization has invited former Breitbart News editor and right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to college campuses. During an appearance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Yiannopoulos targeted a transgender student.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, TPUSA is not allowed to engage in direct political advocacy, and the organization has not done so, according to Kirk. But its funding by major Republican donors and close ties to the White House project the image of a partisan organization.

Kirk, a former contributor to Breitbart News, the online platform of the racist alt-right, is an ally of the Trump administration. He worked for the Trump campaign in 2016 and spoke at the Republican National Convention that year. Kirk has appeared on Fox News alongside members of the Trump family.

Two members of the TPUSA advisory council, investor Gentry Beach and Thomas Hicks, Jr., the son of a Dallas billionaire, worked with Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric to establish a Texas nonprofit to sell access to the president to big donors during inauguration festivities in January. Beach and Hicks, who were both national vice chairmen of the Trump campaign, raised millions of dollars for the campaign. Beach has visited the White House multiple times in 2017.

Beach’s father, Gary, was indicted on five charges of bankruptcy fraud in 2016. Charlie Kirk’s father is allegedly Robert W. Kirk, the project architect manager for Trump Tower in New York City.”

Trump’s Man on Campus Turning Point USA has a rising-star founder, close ties to Trumpworld, and a roster of wealthy conservative donors. What are they really paying for? Politico By JOSEPH GUINTO April 6, 2018 “

On his frequent visits to Washington, D.C., Kirk most often stays at the Trump International Hotel, and I met him there several times over the course of reporting this story.

During one of those meetings, in February, he left our chat and walked through the lobby gladhanding and backslapping amid a buzzy crowd that was gathering just hours before President Trump was to deliver his first State of the Union address. Then Kirk sat down with two wealthy Dallasites to do what he spends much of his time doing: delivering the sales pitch for Turning Point USA.

On the day of the State of the Union, Kirk presented his pitch in the Trump lobby to 66-year-old Trammel S. Crow, the son of the late billionaire real estate magnate Fred Trammel Crow. Trammel S. Crow is a Republican environmentalist who sports a gray ponytail, and he was joined in meeting Kirk by Gentry Beach, a 41-year-old Dallas-based investment fund manager who was a groomsman in Donald Trump Jr.’s 2005 wedding. Beach, a Turning Point USA donor, introduced Kirk to Trump Jr. before the 2016 election.

Kirk has given his pitch hundreds of times in the Trump Hotel lobby alone since Inauguration Day, and hundreds more times to potential investors he’s met traveling the country.

(The NRA is the signature sponsor of Turning Point USA’s annual young women’s leadership summit; Kirk, who owns multiple guns, spoke up for the organization after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.) Support is picking up: Today, Kirk says, the group has 20,000 different donors who gave a total of $9.8 million last year, double the amount raised in 2016. (The group’s 2017 tax filing isn’t yet available; its 2016 filing showed donations of $4.3 million.)

Most of Turning Point USA’s donors are individuals like Gary Rabine, CEO and founder of the Rabine Group, a paving company in Schaumburg, Illinois. Rabine was an early donor, starting in 2013, and perhaps Kirk’s most significant early supporter. He’s worried about campus leftism, and told me, at length, that his college-age children had to push back repeatedly against what they heard their professors say about American business. “I was bothered that there was so much effort in education put into telling kids they were wrong if they believed in free enterprise and capitalism,” Rabine says.


Rabine is not wrong about kids these days. Polling data do show that young people have become more inclined in recent years to embrace socialism: A 2017 YouGov survey found that 44 percent of American millennials would prefer to live in a socialist country with just 42 percent saying they prefer capitalism. A 2016 Gallup poll showed the two economic systems nearly in a dead heat among young people.

Turning Point USA is extremely adept at pumping out counterprogramming. It pokes liberals constantly on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. It produces ebooks that sound like liberal-trolling blog posts: The Case Against Gun Control; 10 Ways Fossil Fuels Improve Our Daily Lives; 10 Ways America Is the Best Country in the History of the World. From its headquarters in Lemont, Illinois, it annually distributes more than a million pieces of literature that go into the “activism kits” mailed to campus chapters. Those kits might include leftism-resistance manuals like “How to Debate Your Teacher (and Win),” or any number of small posters with slogans like “You are entitled to nothing” and “Coexist,” the latter riffing on a liberal bumper sticker by building the word “Coexist” out of illustrated guns and bullets. (The “o” looks like a target site, the “t” like an Uzi.) Turning Point USA also holds several events throughout the year, drawing on a lineup of speakers who are popular with young conservatives—Tomi Lahren, Ben Shapiro and Kirk himself. And it brings speakers to campuses who will happily inflame audiences, like Milo Yiannopoulos or former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka.

The central Turning Point USA strategy seems borrowed from the playbooks of older conservative campus groups, all of which drew energy as reactions to the campus left—the Horowitz Freedom Center, the Young America’s Foundation, and the Leadership Institute. Amy Binder, a sociology professor at the University of California at San Diego who is co-author of the 2014 book Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives, says those older groups, and now Turning Point USA, have found that attacking the academic powers-that-be is a strategy that sells. “When you take on school administrations, it really wins you a lot of fans in the donor base,” Binder says.

“How many seats we’re winning in student councils and government councils and presidents of student bodies is really an important metric for the organization,” says Doug Deason, a member of Turning Point USA’s advisory council, which consults with Kirk on big strategic decisions. Deason, 55, is the son of an IT billionaire, Darwin Deason, who sold his Affiliated Computer Services Inc. to Xerox for $6.4 billion in 2010. The younger Deason, a Ted Cruz supporter who then got behind Trump, is also one of the 500 donors who give at least $100,000 annually to organizations backed by GOP megadonors Charles and David Koch. (Kirk says the Kochs are not donors.)

Campus Victory may be important to donors like Deason, but those donors may be getting skewed data about the program’s success. I obtained an internal Turning Point USA document detailing Turning Point USA’s Campus Victory project and its progress as of early last year. The document listed 50 universities across the country and indicated that, at each, Turning Point USA had backed the candidate elected student body president. Many candidates were pictured in the document with “WIN!” superimposed behind their pictures.”