Monday, May 16, 2022

Secret Republican group budgets millions for media and influencer programs

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A new group of affluent conservatives plans to revamp U.S. law by investing more than $30 million in new legal, policy and media ventures, including “influencer programs,” according to a recent report from The New York Times

The coalition, known as The Rockbridge Network, consists of prominent conservative billionaires such as Peter Thiel and Rebekah Mercer. The network aims to “disrupt but advance the Republican agenda” with its new policy and media programs. According to a network brochure obtained by the Time“The Rockbridge Network will replace the current Republican ecosystem” of activist and media organizations with “better action-oriented, more effective people and institutions.”

The brochure does not reveal the details of these new media ventures, but sets an operating budget of $8 million for 2021. Initiatives mentioned include “public relations and messaging, rapid communications team for conservative activists and leaders, poll funding, sponsorship area-specific reporting and influencer programs, investigative journalism, documentaries and other cultural influence and innovation projects.”

Rockbridge Network members met this week at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club for private meetings and a behind-the-door speech from Trump himself, the Time reported. The meeting comes as Republicans pool their strategies for the 2022 midterm elections.

The brochure’s focus on “influencer programs” follows a year of massive spending by the Trump wing of the Republican Party on similar initiatives. Last December alone, Trump’s “Make America Great Again PAC” paid over $50,000 to the influencer marketing firm Legendary Campaigns, according to FEC records. In addition, the National Republican Senatorial Commission the company paid a similar amount for advertising.”

Trump’s team previously engaged Legendary Campaigns, a “partner organization” for Urban Legend Co., for online advertising. The company, run by former Trump White House Digital Officer Ory Rinat, reportedly pays popular conservative influencers “fees in return for encouraging engagement — such as email signups, donations, and purchases — for the company’s customers.” axios reported last year

During the 2020 election cycle, platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter drastically changed the way political campaigns could advertise on their platforms. Twitter banned political ads outright, while Facebook and Google began demanding significantly more detailed disclosures from political buyers. This saw new money flowing to companies like Legendary Campaigns for ad partnerships with content creators.

in Dec, The edge the conservative university group Turning Point USA’s latest efforts to get influencers into the movement detailed. At the time, TPUSA touted more than 400 ‘ambassadors’ and its 2021 prospectus budgeted more than $7 million for the media branch of the organization.

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