Brian Schwartz: Trump-linked group that battled Hillary Clinton in 2016 rebranded this year to attack critical race theory in Virginia
At CNBC, Brian Schwartz reveals that the 1776 PAC that has so vocally opposed “CRT” in Virginia is actually a dark money group previously focused on beating Hillary Clinton and defeating Democrats in the 2018 elections.
A group that fueled attacks on critical race theory during Virginia’s hotly contested gubernatorial race has ties to several of former President Donald Trump’s allies, including Newt Gingrich and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
The group, 1776 Action, is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit “dark money” organization that isn’t required to publicly disclose its donors. Gingrich and Carson themselves aren’t listed among the group’s leaders, although people close to them — including family members and former top aides — have leadership roles.
Before this year, it was known as the American Legacy Center. It targeted Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election and congressional Democrats during the 2018 midterms.
The organization raised over $2.3 million from 2014 through 2019, according to their public 990 forms reviewed by CNBC. Records for 2020 and 2021 are not yet available. 1776 Action did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment before publication.
The organization, which says it is committed to stopping “anti-American indoctrination,” is positioned to continue pushing its message during next year’s midterms and then perhaps the 2024 race as conservative forces increasingly take aim at critical race theory.
The group’s rebranding came as new fronts in the conservative-liberal culture war erupted over teaching about race and racism in schools.
1776 Action took its name from Trump’s own 1776 Commission, a White House initiative that called its work a “rebuttal of reckless ‘re-education’ attempts that seek to reframe American history around the idea that the United States is not an exceptional country but an evil one.”
In September, 1776 Action’s logo was featured at a Virginia event called the “Rally to Save Our Schools.” Youngkin said during the rally that he would ban the teaching of critical race theory if he became governor. Carson also spoke at the event.