Rollins joins an ever-growing list of former White House officials who have created Trump-allied political groups since the 2020 election, a list that includes prominent figures in the former president’s orbit such as former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale. and former housing provider and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. With Trump out of office and hatching his political future, the emerging ecosystem promises to bolster the former president as he prepares to dive into the 2022 midterm elections, potentially launching a return nomination in 2024.
The former aides are capitalizing on widespread donor interest in funding projects aligned with the former president, with pro-Trump donors poised to shell out big checks to keep Trump’s agenda front and center. Now that the presidential campaign is no longer consuming donors, who can give unlimited amounts to nonprofits or super PACs, a space has emerged for former Trump advisers to fund their own efforts.
“I think investors out there,” Rollins said, are “really, really excited” about the idea of a vehicle that defends Trump’s policies. “For the people who are funding us,” he added, “they understand it, they see the vision, they understand what is at stake.”
Parscale’s new vehicle, the American Greatness Fund, is not explicitly pro-Trump, but its core themes are unequivocally aligned with the former president. The group’s mission statement describes it as a “non-profit social welfare organization dedicated to retaining, cultivating and inspiring the grassroots energy of the ‘Make America Great Again’ movement”. The organization, he adds, will focus on voter integrity issues by creating a website that will catalog legal and legislative efforts surrounding the elections and will combat what it describes as “canceling the culture against conservatives.”
Parscale was fired as Trump’s campaign manager in July 2020, but has since returned to the former president’s orbit and is helping direct his post-White House political efforts. Parscale said the American Greatness Fund, the existence of which was first reported by Axios, has so far raised $ 300,000.
Corey Lewandowski, another former Trump campaign manager, has created Fight Back Now America, a political action committee that, according to its website, is dedicated to “supporting candidates and policies seeking to advance the America First Agenda.”
The organization is expected to run heavily in the 2022 Republican primary by targeting those who backed Trump’s impeachment, such as Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, though it will also focus on toppling Democrats in the general election. Lewandowski has been hired separately to oversee the top pro-Trump super PAC, though it’s unclear how that team will interact with Fight Back Now America.
Carson said in an interview that his American Cornerstone Institute is a conservative think tank that will emphasize electoral integrity, one of the former president’s fixations. Carson has also created a PAC, Think BIG America, that can participate in elections and distribute funds to favored candidates.
“We will be very interested,” Carson said, “in who are the people who hold logical views and who make sense.”
Russ Vought, a former director of Trump’s Office of Management and Budget, has created the Center for American Restoration, a think tank that upholds Trump’s fiery populist message. Vought criticized the political establishment in a recent article published in The Federalist, a conservative website, and said his organization aimed to “give a voice to the common and forgotten men and women in this great country.”
Vought, a veteran of Heritage Action, a prominent conservative advocacy group, has focused, among other issues, on conservative censorship on online platforms, a cause Trump has taken up after being banned by Twitter.
It is not clear if Trump helps any of the organizations. The former president has focused on establishing his own political apparatus, and during a meeting last week with top advisers he noted that he wanted to establish a Lewandowski-led super PAC that could raise and spend unlimited amounts of money.
Trump previously established a leadership PAC, Save America, which could contribute directly to candidates, but has restrictions on the amounts individual donors can contribute. During an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend, he urged supporters to donate to Save America, which has already deposited tens of millions of dollars.
Republicans have expressed interest in building a constellation of new conservative nonprofit groups, believing that Democrats have established a critical advantage in that space in recent years. While nonprofits are somewhat limited in their ability to spend money on elections, they can raise unlimited amounts of money and spend large sums to influence voters. Unlike super PACs, they don’t have to disclose their donors.
Republicans point to Fair Fight, a collection of political and nonprofit organizations overseen by Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams dedicated to voting rights, as a vehicle that has been particularly effective. Abrams is credited with helping Democrats make progress in Georgia during the elections, when President Joe Biden won the state and the party seized both of his Senate seats.
Rollins said he has drawn staff from the White House, the Trump campaign and Capitol Hill. He added that the team, which is also headed by former Trump adviser Larry Kudlow, will focus on a number of policy issues that were central to the Trump White House, including school choice, energy independence and immigration reform.
We’re “taking all of these ideas that we’ve built over the past four years and building on them,” said Rollins, who before joining the White House oversaw the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Austin.
The excess of organizations aligned with Trump could create complications. Some senior Republicans have raised concerns that there may be competition for donors, who may be confused about which team to support. They say the major contributors are waiting for the former president’s political apparatus to fully form and are awaiting his guidance on where they should direct their funds.
Carson dismissed the idea that there would be a confrontation between the different groups, noting that his organization had been in contact with Vought’s. The two organizations are based very close to each other on Capitol Hill.
“The way I see it, we are fighting for the same things,” Carson said. “We need as many people in that fight as we can.”