Roger Sollenberger: The Aristocrats Funding the Critical Race Theory ‘Backlash’
Political reporter at the Daily Beast Roger Sollenberger has dug into the background of some of the top “anti-CRT” groups.
The anti-CRT movement has descended with a vengeance this year into suburban school board meetings and Fox News programming. And while the movement may present itself with a local face, many of its most effective advocacy groups are propped up by wealthy, well-connected backers—right down to its connections to the billionaire Koch family.
The Daily Beast has identified eight recently created anti-CRT groups which operate at local levels across the country but bear ties to ideological right-wing aristocrats and political operatives. Their backers include former officials in Donald Trump’s administration, an executive at a notorious D.C. lobbying firm, as well as Koch entities and The Federalist Society.
In Virginia, one of the key leaders against critical race theory is Ian Prior. If Prior’s name sounds familiar, that’s because you may have been one of the tens of thousands of Americans to receive emails from Prior in one of his many different former roles: press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Justice Department official during the Trump administration, communications director for the Karl Rove super PAC American Crossroads, and now, a GOP operative behind two organizations that have inflamed attacks on so-called critical race theory in Virginia’s public schools.
Prior runs Fight for Schools, a state-level PAC which emerged this year to challenge educational decisions in Loudoun County and mobilize behind Youngkin. The candidate turned to Prior’s group for fundraising and voter outreach efforts, and state election disclosures show that the organization raised hundreds of thousands of dollars during the campaign.
Over the last several months, Prior—whose children attend Loudoun County schools—has appeared on Fox News at least 15 times to discuss critical race theory, according to a Media Matters analysis. He has been introduced on those shows as a “Loudoun County parent” and a “father” who went “from concerned parent, like many of you, to legal activist,” Media Matters reported. In one such appearance last month, Prior was identified by the host as a “parent,” while the graphic on the screen labeled him “vice president at Mercury Public Affairs”—a D.C. lobbying firm with a history of representing controversial foreign clients.