There’s a new group of wealthy conservatives planning to revamp the American right by pouring more than $30 million into legal, political, and media startups, including “influence shows,” according to a recent report from The New York Times.
The coalition, known as The Rockbridge Network, features prominent conservative billionaires like Peter Thiel and Rebekah Mercer. The network aims to “disrupt but further the Republican agenda” with its new politics and media shows. According to a network brochure obtained by the Times“The Rockbridge Network will replace the current Republican ecosystem” of activists and media organizations with “better action-oriented and more effective people and institutions.”
The brochure doesn’t reveal the details of these new media ventures, but sets out a working budget of $8 million for 2021. Named initiatives include “public relations and messaging, a rapid response communications team for conservative activists and leaders, funding of surveys, sponsorship of Coverage of specific areas and programs of influencers, investigative journalism, documentaries and other projects of influence and cultural renewal”.
Members of the Rockbridge Network gathered this week at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club for private meetings and a closed-door speech by Trump himself, the Times informed. The meeting comes as Republicans are crafting their strategies ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
The pamphlet’s focus on “influencer programs” follows a year of massive spending by the Trump wing of the GOP on similar initiatives. Last December alone, Trump’s “PAC Make America Great Again” paid more than $50,000 to influencer marketing firm Legendary Campaigns, according to FEC records. In addition, the National Republican Senatorial Committee paid the company a similar amount for “advertising”.
The Trump team has previously enlisted Legendary Campaigns, a “partner organization” of Urban Legend Co., for online advertising. The company, run by former Trump White House digital officer Ory Rinat, allegedly pays popular conservative influencers “fees in exchange for driving engagement, such as email sign-ups, donations and purchases, for the company’s customers.” business”. Axios reported last year.
During the 2020 election cycle, platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter dramatically changed the ways political campaigns could advertise on their platforms. Twitter Banned Political Ads Completely, while Facebook and Google began requiring significantly more detailed disclosures from political buyers. This caused new revenue to flow into firms like Legendary Campaigns for ad partnerships with content creators.
In December, the edge detailed the conservative university group Turning Point USA’s latest efforts to bring influencers into the movement. At the time, TPUSA promoted over 400 “ambassadors” and its 2021 investor prospectus budgeted over $7 million for the organization’s media arm.