Charlie Kirk’s right-wing empire loses a key asset: Students for Trump


As the 2024 presidential election looms, the political arm of Turning Point USA, the influential right-wing nonprofit run by Charlie Kirk, is losing a key asset: students for Trump.

Students for Trump has leased its popular web domains and social media accounts to Kirk’s Turning Point Action since 2019, supporting the group’s move into more visible campaign work and giving donors the country’s attention. Its identity as the largest conservative youth movement is being cemented. With more than 1.3 million followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Trump’s students have amplified Turning Point’s online megaphone, allowing its messages to go viral and its activists to engage with the former president. Gathering around.

Now, Students for Trump is regaining control of those assets, according to contract documents and people familiar with the situation, raising questions about how closely the turning point will be tied to Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign. The split, which was not previously reported, shows how the Turning Point Network, which gained prominence over the past seven years because of its closeness to Trump, is wrestling with its role and direction as the GOP Some parts of the are looking for alternative standards. the bearer

The separation follows a failed attempt by Kirk’s chief deputy, Tyler Boyer, to gain greater control over the Students for Trump accounts, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. Among the changes Bowyer introduced were removing Trump’s name and renaming the accounts official Turning Point properties. According to people who heard Boyer’s pitch, he discussed leveraging rebranded accounts as part of a new initiative using social media influencers to fundraise for political candidates. . But not all of the money will go to candidates, as influencers get a cut of any fundraising they do.

According to people familiar with the conversation, the idea fell to Trump’s national chairman, Ryan Fournier. Fournier indicated that he wanted to be clearly identified with Trump and was concerned that the revenue plan proposed by Boyer, the chief operating officer of Turning Point Action, the political arm of Turning Point USA, would be for candidates. Will leave very little money.

Andrew Colvette, a spokesman for Turning Point, said there was no intention to change the name of the social media accounts while Trump was running for president. He also said that Turning Point leaders “remain allies and wholeheartedly support the Students for Trump project.” Fournier declined to comment.

The dynamic is a delicate one For a turning point, which has long been able to grow its pro-Trump tent big enough to fit other big-name GOP politicians who have come to the group’s conferences. A competitive presidential primary, however, could soon pit Trump against some of those politicians, which would test the loyalty of groups like Turning Point.

The gala was hosted by Turning Point at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida last week Over the past two years, there has been a heated debate among donors about whether renominating Trump would hurt the party’s chances, according to people in attendance. “Probably the most common view is, ‘Please, God, let someone else be,'” one person said, summarizing the comments.

One option favored by a few in the group is Florida’s popular Republican governor, Ron DeSantis. “I think Ron DeSantis would be Donald Trump without all the baggage,” Dallas investor and Turning Point USA advisory council member Doug Dyson told the Daily Mail.

Bowyer helped bring DeSantis to Phoenix, where Turning Point is located, several months before last year’s midterms. Kirk stumped with DeSantis in the Tampa Bay area on Saturday ahead of the midterm elections, days before DeSantis’ re-election bid, while many of Trump’s favorites stumbled.

Charlie Kirk gave the RNC a warning, and sparked a backlash.

Last month, DeSantis sat down for a one-on-one interview with Kirk at the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and spoke in favor of Hermit Dhillon, a Kirk-backed candidate for Republican National Committee chair, who beat the Trump-backed Made an unsuccessful challenge. Rona McDaniel.

Kirk, on a different episode of his talk show, called Trump’s support for McDaniel “disheartening”, although he confirmed that he would “passionately, anyway” support Trump in 2024. were supporting

Turning Point as an organization, however, has been less clear about its plans. It has hardly rejected Trump, as have other high-profile activist groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by billionaire Charles Koch. But he also quickly resisted endorsing Trump. After his announcement last fall, as some groups focused on young conservatives, such as the New York Young Republican Club and the California College Republicans.

The turning point Reflects a more ambiguous stance. Growing pains accompany her latest attempt to reinvent herself A group due to the culture wars of the Trump era. Founded in 2012 to promote support for free markets among young people, it soon became an adjunct to Trump’s MAGA movement, raising more than $65 million a year for Turning Point and its affiliate groups. are established as nonprofits, according to public filings. With these resources, Turning Point became a conservative influence machine that included political jamborees, podcasts, biblical citizenship classes and K-12 curriculum.

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Over time, its efforts to move beyond the Trump movement have put Turning Point at odds with Students for Trump, which has maintained an unwavering mission of building youth support for the MAGA movement. Fournier founded the initiative in 2015 while in college in North Carolina, first as a Twitter account. Today, this Boasting nearly 250,000 followers on Twitter. An Instagram account brings its 832,000 followers a series of memes mocking Democrats and the left.

Turning Point Action’s own social media accounts, meanwhile, maintain more modest activity, with less than 10,000 followers on Twitter. The group’s 501(c)3 arm, Turning Point USA, has a large following, but tax law limits its election-related work.

A 2019 news release announcing the acquisition of Students for Trump called it a “social media phenomenon” and said it would anchor the network’s campaign work in the 2020 cycle.

“Students for Trump will be an official chapter-based, pro-Trump student group on hundreds of college and high school campuses across America beginning this fall,” the release promised.

Kirk’s profile on the Turning Point site states that Students for Trump in 2020 “mobilized millions of new college voters through its more than 350 chapters on campuses in battleground states.”

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