America Rising LLC | PAC | America Rising Squared | Definers Public Affairs

America Rising

America Rising and Affiliated Entities

Background on America Rising

America Rising LLC and America Rising PAC were founded in Spring of 2013, in response to perceived Democratic superiority in the field of opposition research. The related but distinct corporate entities are both commonly referred to as America Rising, and the entities are often confused. Most popular mentions in the media and public refer to the activities of the PAC. As of 2019, America Rising LLC appears to have branded itself as America Rising Corporation[1], [49]

CNN offered the following description when it launched:

As a super PAC, [America Rising] will focus on digital campaigns and placing negative stories about Democrats in the news media. It does not plan to run television ads.

A separate wing of the group will incorporate as a limited liability company (LLC), which can coordinate directly with campaigns and political committees by sharing video and resources. [To avoid making illegal in-kind corporate contributions, the LLC needs to charge for access to the videos and resources.]

The America Rising joint enterprise was founded as an opposition research shop described by the Wall Street Journal as “the unofficial research arm of the Republican Party.” America Rising PAC describes itself as “an organization on the right for the sole purpose of exposing the truth about Democrats through video tracking, research, and communications,” and spends its time attacking democrats, progressives and environmentalists. [3][4]

America Rising co-founder Matt Rhoades previously worked for DCI Group and was Mitt Romney’s campaign manager for the Republican nominee’s failed 2012 presidential bid. America Rising’s other co-founder Joe Pounder is a long-time Republican strategist and opposition researcher, and a former research director at the Republican National Committee. Pounder resigned from America Rising to work on Marco Rubio’s campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. After Rubio suspended his campaign, Pounder returned to the America Rising family as president of Definers Public Affairs. Note that in September 2019, Politico reported Definers was working on rebranding as Bullpen Strategy Group following Definers’ Facebook oppo research controversy. (More on Definers below.) [107]

In early 2014, America Rising PAC‘s website relaunched as a “news site,” in order to easily publish and spread attack videos and blog posts about opposition targets. [5]

Hiding Donors and Running Attack Ads: The Various Corporate Entities of America Rising

The various entities under the America Rising umbrella give the enterprise a flexible structure that can serve different purposes. The PAC can purchase research from the LLC and can sell or disseminate it to other organizations. The 501(c)4 nonprofit, AR2, doesn’t have to declare its donors. (More on AR2 below.) All told, America Rising had a budget of $8 million for the 2014 elections and is seeking to nearly double this. [6]

The organization reportedly has more than 100 staff, including a large number of “trackers” who follow the group’s targets around the country and record their actions. During the 2016 election cycle, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was the group’s biggest target, but America Rising also undertakes a wide range of opposition research on Democrats and progressives, including prominent environmentalists, before disseminating it to other right-wing organizations and on social media.

America Rising is located in the same building as Definers, a public affairs agency “launched by” America Rising, which hosts many former AR staff and which undertakes similar research work for corporate clients, and which has received money from America Rising. [7], [8]

America Rising Advanced Research (aka, America Rising Squared, aka AR2)

America Rising Advanced Research (aka, America Rising Squared, aka, AR2), the nonprofit 501(c)4 arm of the family, was launched publicly in July 2015, although it appears in FEC filings as early as February 2014. [9]

As a nonprofit 501(c)4, AR2 doesn’t have to disclose its donors, like the parent PAC does. The nonprofit is limited from running political attack ads, but can publish videos and news and advertise about issues themselves. The Washington Examiner explains: [10]

The issues-based 501(c)4 won’t be able to run ads directly attacking political foes the way America Rising does. But the group is permitted to spend roughly half of what it raises on political persuasion, and can run critical spots urging someone like Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, to take positions on particular issues.

Brian Rogers, the former executive director of America Rising Advanced Research, was briefly the research director for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, where he worked on a campaign “to pass comprehensive energy and climate change legislation.” Rogers was also a longtime senior adviser to Republican Senator John McCain and held key roles in McCain’s run for the US presidency in 2008. [11]

AR Squared is now headed by executive director Sarah Dolan, who also now serves in the same capacity for America Rising PAC. Dolan was previously communications director for the two groups. [114], [115]


America Rising Advanced Research launched an aggressive social media campaign against leading figures in the US environmental movement, including creating the website Core News which features attacks on prominent climate policy advocates including Bill McKibben, Tom Steyer and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Definers, the corporation-serving, for-profit venture of America Rising

*2019 Rebranding: In September 2019, Politico reported Definers was rebranding following controversy in its use of “campaign-style opposition research” tactics to target Facebook’s rival companies (Facebook cut ties with Definers nine months prior). [107]

In addition to being rebranded as Bullpen Strategy Group (BSG), Definers’ former CEO Matt Rhoades left to work at CGCN while taking some Definers staff with him including Antonia Ferrier, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Joe Pounder, co-founder of Definers in 2015, reportedly bought out Rhoades stake in the company. [107]

In 2015, America Rising founders Matt Rhoades and Joe Ponder launched Definers Public Affairs as a communications agency for corporate clients. Pounder describes: [12]

The formation of Definers actually began with the founding of America Rising LLC by Matt Rhoades and myself in 2013. I’ve known Rhoades since 2004 when I was his intern at Bush-Cheney ’04. We’ve worked together on and off for the next decade. After 2012 when he was the campaign manager for Mitt Romney and I was the research director at the Republican National Committee, we decided to start America Rising to focus on opposition research, rapid response communications, and video tracking for political clients.

As we built America Rising into a 60-person operation with employees across the country, we were actually turning away corporate clients so we could focus exclusively on our political mission. In 2015, we changed that and formed Definers. 

Definers Public Affairs now shares the politically-linked leadership of America Rising and several staff members with other AR entities. For example, America Rising Advanced Research’s former executive director Brian Rogers was also a Senior Vice President (later managing director) at Definers. Definers Public Affairs is also located in the same Arlington, Virginia office building as America Rising LLC. [13]

According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ database, two groups reported payments to Definers during the 2016 election cycle: Marco Rubio for President made five payments totalling $52,200; America Rising PAC made 6 payments totaling $42,500. The first of these payments was on 06-08-2015. [8]

In June, 2016, Definers expanded its reach to Silicone Valley in Oakland, working with former Jeb Bush communications director Tim Miller. [36]

“Silicon Valley is a natural target for their so-called ‘oppo’ efforts,” Recode reported. In in interview, Miller told Recode, that the “spotlight that is on their industry,” meaning more investment is needed to ensure “you have positive content pushed out about your company and negative content that’s being pushed out about your competitor, or regulator, or activist groups or activist investors, that are challenging you.” [36]

There might be some companies that are more willing to engage in that,” Miller said, but “increasingly, as [Silicon Valley] companies mature, I think they may recognize the need to do that.” [36]

3D Global Affairs

In November 2017, it was announced that Definers had joined law firm Denton’s to launch a global research firm called 3D Global Affairs.

Among the services offered at 3D Global Affairs would be “governmental relations and lobbying support to shape the environment” and “communications and rapid response professionals to direct the narrative.” [40]

3D Global Affairs also offers “campaign-style opposition research” including “comprehensive research services, support on relevant issues, and dossiers on opponents, competitors and agitators.” [58]

“We search the public record, including news reports, social media and legal records, for high-impact information that can inform and influence media narratives or your government relations campaigns,” the Definers website notes. [58]

It also offers “full-service war room that monitors a wide-range of media platforms on a continuous basis.”[58]

Partnering with Dentons will allow us to bring our politically-oriented research and communications war room system to clients around the globe navigating complex legal and public affairs issues, crises, and threats to their public image,” said Definers founder Matt Rhoades in a press release announcing the collaboration. [59]

In this very disruptive world, Definers has been involved in some tough fights. We know how to work with the media; influencers and online platforms to apply the principles of campaigns to private sector entities seeking politically minded guidance.”[59]

Defending Digital Campaigns (DDC)

Defending Digital Campaigns claims to have been “born out of the need to help campaigns on a tight budget get the resources necessary to protect themselves from international cyber attacks.” [56]

The non-profit group is headed by Definers’ founder and CEO Matt Rhoades along with several others. In May 2019, Definers Public Affairs boasted how in an “unprecedented move” the Federal Election Committee (FEC) approved DDC‘s request “to provide cybersecurity help to political campaigns free of charge and without being bound by standard campaign contribution rules and regulations.” [56]

NTK Network–Now Share Right Network

NTK Network is an echo chamber set up by America Rising with Joe Pounder serving as its editor in chief. It describes itself as “a unique news website that brings together data points from all platforms to tell the whole story.” NTK Network was renamed Share Right Network in August 2019, according to a post on social media. [44], [45]

NTK Network was run by Definers Public Affairs. Facebook reportedly worked with Definers as part of its push to revamp its self-image following the scandal with Cambridge Analytica. NTK Network reportedly ran news stories aimed at defending Facebook following the release of news that Cambridge Analytica had improperly accessed data from 87 million Facebook account. Many of NTK Network’s stories also reportedly attacked Facebook’s competitors by highlighting criticisms of other big tech companies. [46][47]

A former Definers employee told NBC News that NTK network was Definers’ “in-house fake news shop.” [46]

The New York Times reported: [48]

“On a conservative news site called the NTK Network, dozens of articles blasted Google and Apple for unsavory business practices. One story called Mr. Cook hypocritical for chiding Facebook over privacy, noting that Apple also collects reams of data from users. Another played down the impact of the Russians’ use of Facebook.

“The rash of news coverage was no accident: NTK is an affiliate of Definers, sharing offices and staff with the public relations firm in Arlington, Va. Many NTK Network stories are written by staff members at Definers or America Rising, the company’s political opposition-research arm, to attack their clients’ enemies. While the NTK Network does not have a large audience of its own, its content is frequently picked up by popular conservative outlets, including Breitbart.”

It goes by the handle @ShareRightNet on Twitter. NTK Network 

America Rising Action

America Rising has set up state-level groups in the US with the advertised goal of “holding liberal groups and their special interests accountable”:

Michigan Rising Action

Run by public relations professional and former advisor to Governor Rick Snyder Tori Sachs, Michigan Rising Action reports its mission as follows: [110]

“Michigan Rising Action is focused on holding liberal groups and their special interest networks accountable and advancing conservative principles. We’re fighting for limited government, lowering taxes, fighting government over-regulation that stifles freedom, free enterprise, strong national security, and shaping the public policy debate in Michigan. We hold liberal groups and their special interest networks accountable, fact-checking left-wing politicians whose policies would push the state in the wrong direction, and ensuring citizens have the most accurate, up-to-date information to drive a balanced policy conversation.”

Colorado Rising Action

Politico reported in 2018 that Colorado Rising Action would be run by Michael Fields, former a state-level director for Americans for Prosperity Colorado. [111]

Colorado Rising Action describes itself as a 501(c)(4) organization “focused on holding liberal groups and their special interest networks accountable and advancing conservative principles.”

We hold liberal groups and their special interest networks accountable, fact-checks left-wing politicians whose policies would push the state in the wrong direction, and ensures citizens have the most accurate, up-to-date information to drive a balanced policy conversation in the state. They outline their strategy as follows (emphasis in original): [112]

“Here’s how we do it:

“We have eyes and ears on the ground in Colorado tracking liberal special interest groups and the politicians they represent.

“Not only are we keeping track of what left-wing politicians are saying now, we also keep a fact-checking record and hold politicians accountable.

“Rapid Response. Timing is everything. We’ll be communicating in real time with reporters and directly with Coloradans with the latest and more relevant information.”

Missouri Rising Action

Missouri Rising Action is a Super PAC “dedicated to supporting Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and defeating Senator Claire McCaskill in the 2018 U.S. Senate race.” [113]

AR2 initially launched Missouri Rising as a regional affiliate to “[promote] conservative issues and [shape] the debate in Missouri.”

Crier Media Group & UK Policy Group

In 2019, Definers CEO Joe Pounder and the group’s CFO created Crier Media Group in the UK and the U.S. to supply media monitoring services. Definers also set up the UK Policy Group in the UK, which it claims will bring “campaign-style research to corporate clients.” [116]

LinkedIn suggests that several Definers and UK Policy Group staff simultaneously moved to work at Crier Media Group. [116]

Definers Public Affairs & the EPA

In December, 2017, it was revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency had contracted Definers to provide “news analysis and brief service” to the EPA. According to Mother Jones, the $120,000 contract include use of the Definers War Room console that helps clients track media coverage and the output of opponents. Following calls for an Inspector General audit and a Government Accountability Office investigation on the EPA and Definers, the contract was cancelled. [39]

In 2019, newly obtained emails showed that claims by Definers that the contract had been awarded based solely on cost considerations were not completely true, Mother Jones reported. “Moreover, the emails provide a detailed picture of how the Trump administration immediately and aggressively tried to realign the agency and route taxpayer dollars for partisan purposes,” MJ reported. [42]

The EPA emails, obtained by the Sierra Club, showed the EPA press office had set aside concerns from staff regarding the choice of Definers, including its uncompetitive bid. [42]

A former EPA employee spoke with MJ, saying the “whole notion that the agency is using a group like Definers and [NTK] and manipulating the media coverage of its activities” could be a violation of Congress’ appropriations law prohibiting the EPA from using funds for propaganda and publicity purposes. “Somebody reads a story and thinks it’s a straight news story, when in fact the agency is putting out misleading information that’s very offensive and probably violates the Appropriations Act,” the former staff member said. [42]

The Washington Post reported that the contract was cancelled almost immediately after criticism from Capitol Hill and with questions surrounding political work by Definers. While the EPA defended the contract, America Rising president Joe Pounder separately said the decision was mutual and that the firm would not be offering services to government agencies. [41]

America Rising Tactics

America Rising and AR2 send “trackers” – staff members with video cameras tasked with recording their targets – to follow top tier Democratic candidates on the campaign trails and key environmentalists and other opposition research targets. At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Activism Boot Camp, America Rising hosted a seminar titled “We’re Watching You: How to Video Track 24/7.” [14]

America Rising LLC runs a website called, from which they sell photos that have been taken at the hundreds of campaign events attended by the trackers. America Rising LLC describes: [15]

We have no control over the lighting at the events we film, often have less than cooperative subjects, and make no claim to being professional photographers. We offer them to you as a cost-competitive alternative to meet your digital and direct mail needs.

The Ameria Rising Advanced Research (AR2) runs a website called Core News, which features attacks on prominent environmentalists including Tom Steyer, Bill McKibben and Leonardo DiCaprio, and was described by Buzzfeed as a “secretly funded propaganda site … [that] is publishing stories attacking environmentalists, scientists, and politicians who warn about climate change.” Stories range from “aggressively opinionated, to sort-of true, to demonstrably false,” according to Buzzfeed. [16]

America Rising has attacked Democrats who opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, and has a particular focus on billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, hosting articles titled “Steyer Watch” and criticizing Steyer for spending more than $65 million on his super PAC races in the 2014 election. [17]

Who Funds America Rising?

Donations to America Rising Advanced Research (aka, America Rising Squared) are not declared, as it is incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)4.

While America Rising LLC is a business that can sell its services with no disclosures necessary, reported the Republican National Committee spent at least $183,900 on America Rising in the 2016 election cycle, with an additional $45,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee. [32]

OpenSecrets reported that the conservative “dark money” One Nation gave $250,000 to America Rising LLC as an independent contractor in 2017. Both One Nation and CrossRoads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS) have connections to republican political strategist Karl Rove. According to public 990 records, Crossroads GPS paid America Rising, LLC $775,000 in 2015 as a contractor for “research consulting.” [43]

According to 990 forms, AR2 received $100,000 from the secretive Wellspring Committee, a group that was key to funding groups like the Judicial Crisis Network which focused on getting conservative judges on the Supreme Court. OpenSecrets noted that in addition to the $100K directly to AR2 in 2015, Wellspring also gave $500,000 to the vendor Opportunity Solutions Corp. which has shared an office suite with America Rising in Arlington. Opportunity Solutions treasurer, Rebecca Shuller, previously led the America Rising initiative to target female voters in the 2016 general election. [128]

America Rising PAC

America Rising’s political action committee is required to report contributions to the FEC. The following payments are based on data collected by[23]

Contributor201420162018Grand TotalOccupation
Individual Contributors$487,500$1,006,263$995,348$2,489,111 
BEAL, ANDREW  $250,000$250,000BEAL BANK
MATTHEWS, JJ MRS$100,000$50,000 $150,000INVESTOR
KUBLY, BILLIE  $50,000$50,000RETIRED
ENRICO, ROGER$5,000$15,000 $20,000RETIRED
FRANCE, BRIAN $15,000 $15,000NASCAR
FORST, EDWARD C $10,000 $10,000RETIRED
DAVIS, ROBERT $500$2,000$2,500RETIRED
Contributing Organizations$327,876$201,854$5,000$534,730 
AMERICA RISING LLC$261,876  $261,876 
FUTURE45 $50,000 $50,000 
CBI VENTURES LLC $25,000 $25,000 
AR2, INC$24,000  $24,000 
AMERICA RISING, LLC$20,000  $20,000 
COPART, INC $10,000 $10,000 
SJZ LLC $10,000 $10,000 
Grand Total$815,376$1,208,117$1,000,348$3,023,841 

Network Map of the America Rising Family


February 2019

Axios reported America Rising Corp. had already deployed cameras as part of its opposition research for the 2020 election, using them to track Democratic candidates’ appearances. [50]

“Democratic campaigns are secretly shopping dirt on their primary rivals much earlier than usual, reflecting the high stakes of surging or sinking quickly with so many people running so early,” Axios reported. “One reason this underground game has begun so quickly is that most of the announced Democratic candidates serve in the Senate together. So the open attacks may come later.” [50]

Highlighted exampels included audio and video featured on the America Rising homepage, with headlines ”AUDIO: Kirsten Gillibrand: Eliminating Private Insurance Is An Urgent Goal”; “VIDEO: Warren Won’t Admit That She Would Eliminate Private Insurance”; “Booker Dodges” in radio interview. [50]

Joe Pounder, America Rising Corp. CEO, said “These are the most unknown ‘known’ candidates. They’re all fair game — no one gets a free pass” [50]

America Rising co-founder Joe Pounder has suggested that opposition research will play a key role in elections going forward: [52]

I actually think, now more than ever, that opposition research will play a bigger role in future elections and in the political dialogue,” he said. “Because you’re fighting for people’s attention, the old adage that you had to wait until the last 30 days of an election is just not true anymore.” [52]

I actually think, now more than ever, that opposition research will play a bigger role in future elections and in the political dialogue,” he said. [52]

There’s more data points for us to go after than ever before. I remember working for Arnold Schwarzenegger in ’06, we were dashing to the library, desperate to find audio or video of our opponent. Now, audio and video are being produced every day. The grandmother in the front row doesn’t know it, but she’s actually a tracker.” [52]


CORE News, a website that describes itself as “a product of America Rising Advanced Research” published a range of stories from 2017 to 2018 targeting electric vehicles with reports on “the Child Labour Used to Make Lithium Batteries” and a “number one” story targeting Tesla. [53], [54]

As DeSmog has reported in the past, only a small percentage of the market for mined cobalt is for batteries to power electric vehicles. [55]

June 2017

America Rising (AR Squared) wrote a white paper that was picked up by The Daily Caller as evidence that “the materials required to build electric vehicles and solar panels are produced under some of the most worst environmental and labor conditions on Earth.” [34]

The inconvenient truth is that these ‘clean’ sources of energy are produced under the worst of labor and environmental rights violations,” the report, titled “The Human & Environmental Costs of ‘Clean Energy’“ claims. [35]

April 2017

America Rising PAC said that it would target Sen. Elizabeth Warren with a strategy that includes opposition research, video tracking, Freedom of Information Act and public records requests, and communications to “make Warren’s life difficult” during her 2018 Senate reelection campaign. This was according to a memo obtained by Politico outlining the group’s efforts. [37]

We view book launch as the soft launch of her presidential campaign. We’ll do the same to her as we did with Hillary Clinton in 2014,” said America Rising then-executive director Colin Reed.  [37]

The memo said that America Rising’s goal was to “to damage her 2020 prospects.” While the emphasis was on Warren, others were also targeted by America Rising’s efforts and include Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).  [37]

Politico reported in September 2017 that America Rising was coordinating with the pro-Trump America First Policies, the political nonprofit behind the America First Action super PAC. [38]

May 2016

In May 2016, America Rising PAC released an app that “arms users attending political events with adversarial questions to ask Democratic candidates.” Called “Grill,” the app also allows users to record video, which is uploaded to a private channel that can be accessed by America Rising employees, who evaluate and screen the footage for promotion. The app also lists candidate events for users based on geographical location. [21]

Never before have attendees of political events had at their fingertips a set of pointed, incisive questions guaranteed to make news,” America Rising PAC‘s former communications director Jeff Bechdel told BuzzFeed News. [22]

March 2016

America Rising Advanced Research has announced that the group will conduct in-depth research on potential Supreme Court nominees. “Rogers said the group was using around 10 researchers to search the Internet, law libraries around the country and other sources to probe the backgrounds of several possible selections to replace the late Antonin Scalia,” the Associated Press reported. A later report by the Associated Press stated the RNC contracted with AR2 to help with research on a potential Supreme Court nominee. [19], [20]

February 2016

America Rising Squared released an attack ad on Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton which showed footage of Sanders agreeing with a statement that the greatest threat to national security is climate change while showing images of terrorists side-by-side with the melting Arctic. [18]

America Rising Bernie Sanders Attack Ad

Staff of America Rising’s Entities

Note that America Rising LLC and America Rising PAC share many staff members. Staff are listed below by how staffers describe themselves on LinkedIn, or how they have been described in news articles. 

Matt Rhoades, Co-founder, America Rising LLC, America Rising PAC, America Rising Advanced Research, Definers Public Affairs [60]

Matt Rhoades

“He founded America Rising in response to a recommendation contained in an autopsy of Romney’s failed presidential run that was ordered by the Republican National Committee. The group’s original goal was to compete with American Bridge, the Democratic opposition research group, but its focus under Mr. Rhoades has been to subject Mrs. Clinton to an ordeal similar to Mr. Romney’s.” [New York Times] – [24]

Joe Pounder, Co-founder, America Rising LLC, America Rising PAC, America Rising Advanced Research; Co-founder and president, Definers Public Affairs [61]

Joe Pounder

One Republican who worked closely with Pounder credits him with revolutionizing the way the party does opposition research, ushering in an age where opposition research and rapid response are living, breathing things that move with the news cycle and social media. More importantly, a number of Republicans said, Pounder is more than a one-trick pony. He is a master of opposition research, but he also understands how best to put that information to use in other parts of a campaign, making sure that research and communications teams work in sync with each other. [National Review] – [25]

America Rising LLC (now America Rising Corporation)

Raj Shah (Former staff), Co-Founder, former Director, and Deputy Communications Director [62]

Raj Shah

Shah moved on to become a Research Director for the GOP. He is now listed as senior vice president at Fox Corporation, according to LinkedIn. [63]

Raj Shah most recently served as Co-Founding Partner and Managing Director of America Rising LLC, where he developed the organization’s Hillary Clinton opposition research book. He previously served as a Deputy Research Director at the RNC during the 2012 presidential election cycle. A graduate of Cornell, he has also worked on Senate and presidential campaigns and served in the Office of Presidential Personnel during the administration of President George W. Bush. []

Byron Koay, Managing Director, Co-Founder, President of America Rising Corporation [64]

Byron Koay

According to LinkedIn, Koay has served with America Rising since April 2013 where he started as a managing director and moved up to his current position as president in 2016. He previously worked as deputy research director for the Republican National Committee. 

Jeff Larson, Chairman, America Rising Corporation [91]

Jeff Larson

Matthew Agvent, Deputy Director of War Room Operations [92]

Matthew Agvent

Allan Blutstein, Senior Vice President of Freedom of Information Act Operations [65]

Allan Blutstein

Allan Blutstein has joined the firm as vice president of Freedom of Information Act operations, placing him in charge of public records requests. Blutstein, who joined the firm after working at the government accountability firm Cause of Action, is a lawyer and public records expert. He previously worked as a principal legal adviser to the FOIA staff at the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Stability, as well as in the Department of Justice’s Office of Information and Privacy. [Roll Call] – [26]

Robert Buckley, Senior Vice President – Director of House Research [94]

Robert Buckley

Jeff Bechdel, former Communications Director at America Rising PAC, later Chief Content Officer, America Rising Corporation. In 2019, he left AR to become a senior director at FTI Consulting, according to LinkedIn. [89]

Jeff Bechdel

Joe Chaudoin, Former Research Analyst. Now Senior Director for Policy & Political Affairs, America Rising Corporation. 

Joe Chaudoin

Dan Knight, former Vice President of House Research [67]

Dan Knight

Dan Knight worked as senior analyst and later vice president at America Rising according to his LinkedIn. His prior roles included research for the National Republican Congressional Committee and for the Koch group Freedom Partners. Most recently he is a Senior Manager for Business Communications and Marketing for Koch Industries. [67]

Dan Knight, who was a senior research analyst in the 2014 cycle, will now serve as vice president of House research for the 2016 cycle.  [Roll Call]

Daniel Knight is Vice President of House Research at America Rising LLC, where he manages a team of analysts engaged in research and rapid response on Democratic House candidates in the 2016 election. Prior to his work at America Rising, which he joined in 2014 as a senior research analyst, Dan worked at the National Republican Congressional Committee and at a DC-area conservative non-profit. [Red Alert Politics]

Aaron Baer, Vice President of Tracking and Video.

Aaron Baer

Aaron Baer formerly worked under Cuccinelli for Goernor as a Rapid Response & Research Director, and in communications for several other republican campaigns before joining America Rising in December 2013. [69]

Diana Bates, Senior director – Deputy Director of Special Projects [93]

Diana Bates

Former Staff – Cooper Reves, Digital Director for America Rising PAC (Former)

Cooper Reves

According to his LinkedIn, Cooper Reves is currently digital political director at NRCC, and before that deputy digital director to the Republican Governors Association. He worked as digital director at America Rising PAC from February 2017 to August 2018. [68]

Francis Brennan (former staff), Deputy War Room Director, co-founder of NTK Network [70]

Francis Brennan

Francis Brennan reportedly left his role as co-founder of the NTK Network in June 2019 in order to serve the Trump campaign’s war room as director of strategic response. [70]

We’re the eyes and ears,” said Francis Brennan, 25, war room director at the conservative political action committee America Rising. “We try to just pump out as many facts as we can. Everything we do is fact-based. It’s not scrutinized or opinion-based. It’s all facts. We have to prove what we are saying. We can’t just say things.” [McClatchy] – [6]

Matt Vollenweider (former staff), former Deputy Team Leader and later VP and House Research Director

Matt Vollenweider

Vollenweider went on to work as research director at the Republican State Leadership Committee, leaving his position as VP and House Research Director at America Rising Corporation, according to his LinkedIn[71]

Kyle Sisenstein, Deputy Senate Team Leader, now Senior Vice President for North Carolina [72]

Kyle Sisenstein

Christina Van Horn, Senior Director – Presidential Research [100]

Christina Van Horn

Jared Wheeler, Senior Director – Deputy Director of Special Projects [101]

Jared Wheeler

Alexandra Wilkes, Senior Vice President – Director of Public Affairs. Former Director, America Rising PAC for 2018 cycle. [102]

Alexandra Wilkes

Domenick Cocchiara, former 2016 Presidential Research Analyst

Domenick Cocchiara

Domenick Cocchiara formerly worked as a 2016 Presidential Research Analyst at America Rising, LLC. He is now regional director of Reclaim New York for the Hudson Valley region where he is “Responsible for development and delivery of a successful regional grassroots advocacy strategy, policy, and communications plan resulting in adoption of legislation,” according to LinkedIn[73]

Rocco Cavalluzzi, former Research Analyst

Rocco Cavalluzzi

Rocco Cavalluzzi worked as a research analyst at America Rising PAC from 2014 to 2017, according to LinkedIn. He is now a senior client services manager at Morning Consult. [74]

Jillian Davidson, Research Analyst now State Research Director

Jillian Davidson

Julia Griswold, Development Director [95]

Julia Griswold

Julia Hoy, Senate Research Analyst, now Senior Research Director

Julia Hoy

Rebecca Howell, Senior Director – Deputy Director of House Research. former Director at Definers Public Affairs [96]

Rebecca Howell

Carter Reese, Analyst now Senior Vice President, Special Projects, America Rising Corporation

Carter Reese

Kyle Reliford, Managing Director [99]

Kyle Reliford

Michael Berg, former Research Analyst

Michael Berg

Michael Berg’s LinkedIn account is no longer active. According to an analysis paper of political activites on Facebook, Google, and other mediums by the Campaign for Accountability, Michael Berg worked for America Rising until August 2016. [75]

Ari Schaffer, former Presidential Research Analyst for America Rising, LLC

Ari Schaffer

Ari Schaffer worked as a senior presidential research analyst at America Rising, LLC until November 2016. He went to work as a research analyst at the White House, and most recently a special advisor for communicationsto the U.S. Department of Commerce. [76]

Sam Montgomery, former Office Manager at Definers Public Affairs, and earlier at America Rising, LLC

Sam Montgomery

Sam Montgomery was a field researcher/tracker for America Rising LLC, then a War Room Analyst, and Office Manager at both America Rising and Definers Public Affairs. She is now the digital coordinator for the Arkansas Attorney General’s office. [77]

Scott Sloofman, former tracker

Scott Sloofman

Ryan Powers, Research Analyst, now Senate Research Director, America Rising Corporation [79]

Ryan Powers

Charles Lehman, former Research Analyst, America Rising LLC [80]

Charles Lehman

Garrett Fulce, Former Director of Full-Time Tracking

Garrett Fulce

Garrett Fulce formerly worked as the director of full-time tracking at America . Rising, LLC. He is now listed as a research and communications associate at Berman and Company. [78]

Travis Cady, Analyst, America Rising, LLC (time period not listed) [81]

Travis Cady

Kevin Brinegar, Former Tracker/Field Analyst, America Rising LLC [82]

Kevin Brinegar

Kevin Brinegar is most recently listed as a regional communications manager for In Persuit Of, a “full-service communications and marketing agency” with ties to the Koch network. [82]

Chris Malloy, Former Field Research Analyst / Tracker now Deputy Director of Tracking Operatins, America Rising Corporation[83]

Chris Malloy

Christian Martinez, Vice President – Director of War Room Operations [97]

Christian Martinez

Brent Perrin, Senior Director – Deputy Director of State Research [98]

Brent Perrin

Tim Wigginton, Tracker/Field Researcher

Tim Wigginton

Robert Rose, former Tracker/Field Research Analyst (2015 – 2016) [84]

Robert Rose

Patrick Peterson, former Tracker/Field Research Analyst

Patrick Peterson

Patrick Peterson was a Tracker for America Rising Corporation from 2017 to 2018. He is now a legal assistant at Baylor Evnen, LLP. [85]

Grace Nowak, Field Research Analyst (unconfirmed – LinkedIn account deactivated)

Grace Nowak

Nicholas Goeden, Former Tracker/Field Researcher

Nicholas Goeden

Nicholas Goeden was a field researcher at America Rising from 2014 to 2016. He moved to other positions, lastly as a state team research analyst, before moving to a position at Majority Strategies in 2019. [86]

Nick Bolger, former War Room Analyst

Nick Bolger

Nick Bolger worked as a war room analyst at America Rising from February to September 2016. Most recently he was listed as a legislative assistant to the office of Speaker Lee Chatfield in the Michigan House of Representatives. [87]

America Rising PAC Staff

Sarah Dolan, Executive Director, America Rising PAC and America Rising Squared [88]

Sarah Dolan

Chris Martin, Communications Director, America Rising. [88]

Chris Martin

Joe Gierut, Press Secretary, America Rising PAC and America Rising Squared [88]

Joe Gierut

Amelia Chassé, Former Press Secretary.

Amelia Chass

Amelia Chassé worked as press secretary for America Rising PAC from Aug 2015 to Aug 2016. She is now the communications director for the Republican Governors Association. [90]

Those who have worked alongside Chassé describe her as savvy and relentless—she “never gets outworked,” according to longtime McCain adviser Brian Jones. As vice president at Hynes Communications, Chassé manages the firm’s Washington, D.C. office and devises online strategy for many of the firm’s top clients, including American Crossroads. At the start of the 2012 cycle, Chassé helped Crossroads cultivate its relationship with online conservatives. Chassé also counts herself among the cadre of young GOP consultants pushing her party to more fully embrace the digital age. [Campaigns and Elections Magazine] – [29]

America Rising Advanced Research (America Rising Squared) Staff

Sarah Dolan, Executive Director of both America Rising Squared and America Rising PAC.  Former Communications Director America Rising Squared. [88], [103]

Sarah Dolan

Chris Martin, Communications Director, America Rising. [88]

Chris Martin

Joe Gierut, Press Secretary, America Rising PAC and America Rising Squared [88]

Joe Gierut

Brian Rogers, former Executive Director as of 2016. [30]

Brian Rogers

Brian Rogers is Executive Director of America Rising Squared (AR2). Prior to joining AR2, Rogers served as Communications Director to U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and previously served as Deputy Communications Director and Research Director for McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, and held senior communications and opposition research roles on multiple statewide campaigns across the country, at the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. [ARSquared] – [30]

“Rogers is best known as the long-time spokesman for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He was also McCain’s spokesman during the senator’s 2008 presidential campaign, during which Rogers made headlines for arguing that Obama, too, lived in “a frickin’ mansion“ and was an “arugula-eating, pointy-headed professor type….But Rogers was also, for a short time, the research director for former Vice President Al Gore’sAlliance for Climate Protection. Upon taking that job in May 2009, he said he would be “working on the Repower America campaign to pass comprehensive energy and climate change legislation.” [Huffington Post] – [11]

Jeremy Adler, Former Communications Director (2016 – 2017). Previously, Research Analyst, America Rising LLC.

Jeremy Adler

Jeremy Adler is a former communications director of America Rising Squared (AR2 ). He previously served as a regional press secretary for Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. Before that, he worked as a member of America Rising’s Senate research team and also was a part of Scott Brown’s 2014 New Hampshire Senate campaign. Adler now works as communications director for the House Republican Conference.  [30], [125]

Definers Public Affairs Staff (Now Bullpen Strategy Group)

2019 Staff Changes & Rebranding

Matt Rhoades and Joe Pounder, are respectively former founder/CEO and former President of Definers. Joe Pounder reportedly bought out Rhoades stake in Definers in 2019 and rebranded the firm Bullpen Strategy Group. Note that the Definers Public Affairs website now redirects to BSG, where not all of the below staff are still listed. [105], [107]

Politico reported in September 2019 a reshuffling and rebranding of Definers. Rhoades was reportedly leaving the firm and taking a number of Definers staff members with him including Definers partner Antonia Ferrier. Ferrier and Rhoades would move to the lobbying firm CGCN Group, a group with ties to President Donald Trump’s White House. [108]

Pounder also shared news of Bullpen Strategy Group on Medium in September 2019, writing that he would team up with Brian Rogers and Alex Angel to help launch the public affairs firm in the coming weeks. [109]

“As of today, I am the new owner of Definers Public Affairs. I bought out my partner, Matt Rhoades, so that we could both chase new challenges,” Pounder wrote. 

“The public affairs market is evolving and so must Definers. That’s why I’m teaming up with Brian Rogers and Alex Angel to launch a new, insights-driven public affairs firm in the coming weeks called Bullpen Strategy Group (BSG). Brian and Alex are colleagues I’ve known for a long time. They are people I trust and respect, but also two talented individuals who have a history of chalking up wins for clients.”

Colin Reed, Former Executive Director, America Rising PAC. Later Managing Director, Definers Public Affairs. Moved to the Levinson Group in 2019. [117]

Colin Reed

“Reed brings his recent experience as Sen. Scott Brown’s 2014 campaign manager… Previously, Reed served as deputy communications director for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, communications director for Scott Brown’s 2012 Senate race, and press secretary in Brown’s Senate office. Reed also has experience at the NRSC, and on the 2008 presidential campaigns of Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain.” [America Rising PAC] – [28]

Scott Reed served as executive director of America Rising PAC from March 2015 to July 2017, according to his LinkedIn. In 2017 he moved over to a position as managing director of Definers Public Affairs.

Jim Barnett, former Chief Operating Officer (December 2014 – June 2017). Barnett now works as the Principal of the public relations firm Battleground Strategies. [104]

Jim Barnett

Jim Barnett’s experience spreads presidential, statewide, local, corporate and issue campaigns. Prior to joining Definers, Barnett served as Vice President for Political Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform. Barnett is a veteran of Republican politics having managed Sen. John McCain’s comeback victory in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary and U.S. Senator Scott Brown’s $45 million 2012 campaign. He is a past chairman of the Vermont Republican Party and served as deputy campaign manager and communications director for Governor Jim Douglas’s 2002 upset victory. [Definers] – [31]

Brian RogersManaging Director. Former Executive Director, America Rising Squared. 

Brian Rogers

Tim Miller, Former Partner (went on to found Light Fuse Communications in February 2018)

Tim Miller

Tim Miller, former spokesman for Jeb Bush, joined Definers Public Affairs in September. Miller said the firm is going to go “more aggressively…directly after threats to our clients” and Definers will build digital platforms for the Washington fights. [33]

In February 2018, Miller posted he would “take a formal step away from the firm and start an independent llc”—called Light Fuse Communications. “This change gives me the flexibility to pursue more opportunities in media and politics,” Miller wrote at Medium. [119]

According to LinkedIn, Miller worked from 2007 to 2009 as a communication strategist at Berman and Company. Before that he worked as communications director for John McCain from 2006 to 2007 following several other roles in a number of congressional campaigns. [118]

Antonia Ferrier, former Partner. Reportedly left with former Definers CEO Matt Rhoades in 2019 to work at CGCN Group. [57][107]

Antonia Ferrier

Former staff director to the Senate Republican Communications Center where she served as the prime communications operation for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the GOP Senate Majority, Ferrier almost immediately started working at Georgetown University as a senior fellow after beginning work at Definers. 

Alexandra Angel, former Vice President, America Rising Corporation (2013 – 2016). Now Senior Vice President, Definers Public Affairs. [66]

Alexandra Angel

Angel has one of the toughest jobs on the right: Finding new oppo research on Hillary Clinton, one of the most known-commodity candidates in U.S. history. Leading a team of eight analysts, Angel directs day-to-day research and rapid response operations focused specifically on the 2016 presidential race. Before going to America Rising, Angel spent two years as an account executive at DCI Group, where she tracked federal legislation. She’s also done a couple stints at the RNC and worked as deputy operations director on Steve Poizner’s 2010 gubernatorial run in California. She’s also put her research and analytical skills to use as an instructor for the Close Up Foundation, a group that promotes civic participation. [Campaigns and Elections] – [27]

Eva Bandola, Former Senior Director of Definers. Now Vice President of CGCN Group[106]

Eva Bandola

Eva Bandola was senior communications director at Definers Public Affairs until September 2019, when she moved on to work as vice president of CGCN Group. [122]

Julia Cotrone, former Special Assistant and later Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. Now Senior Vice President, CGCN Group. [106]

Julia Cotrone

Also worked as a Special Assistant and War Room Director at America Rising Corporation/LLC. She moved to CGCN Group in September 2019 to work as senior vice president. [106], [124]

Kendyll Ferrall, Senior Associate [106]

Kendryll Ferrall

Casey Harper, Director (Former ?) [106]

Casey Harper

As of 2019, Harper still listed his position as a director of Definers Public Affairs on LinkedIn, however he is not listed on the rebranded Bullpen Strategy Group website. [121]

Christian Hertenstein, Senior Vice President [106]

Christian Hertenstein

Hannah Loiacono, Senior Associate [106]

Hannah Loiacono

Tom Mulkeen, (Former?) Senior Director [106]

Tom Mulkeen

Tom Mulkeen lists himself on LinkedIn as senior director for Definers Public Affairs since March 2019. It is unclear if he maintains a relationship with the rebranded Bullpen Strategy Group. [123]

Katie O’Neil, Former Senior Digital Director (until September 2019[106], [120]

Katie O'Neil

O’Neil worked at Definers until September 2019, before the group was rebranded as the Bullpen Strategy Group. Before that she worked as a digital manager for the Koch group Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.

Michael Chenderlin, former Chief Digital Officer (2016 – 2018). Now Director of Digital Strategy, IMGE

Michael Chenderlin

Christy Paavola, Senior Vice President

Christy Paavola

Joey Rose, Former Graphic Designer [106]

Steven Yaffee, Senior Associate [106]

Steven Yaffee

Geoff Embler, former Senior Vice President

Geoff Embler

Tim Killeen, Former Senior Vice President. Also former Vice President of America Rising, LLC. Now works at CGCN Group. [126]

Tim Killeen

Tim Killeen moved to CGCN group with Matt Rhoades in August 2019. [127]

Andrew Lautz, former Research Associate. Also worked as a Senior Senate Research Analyst at America Rising Corporation until 2018. Now working at National Taxpayers Union.

Andrew Lautz

Sara Pietsch, former Art Director

Sara Pietsch

Mike Presutti, Former Research Associate, then Senior Research Associate (Sept 2015 – April 2018). 

Mike Presutti

Will Schenkel, former War Room Associate

Will Schenkel

Todd Scher, Former Research Associate

Todd Scher

Jasmine Sossa, Former Graphic Designer

Jasmine Sossa

Nick Zanetti, Research Associate, now Senior Director. Also formerly held position Deputy War Room Director at America Rising Corporation/LLC.

Nick Zanetti

Contact & Address

America Rising Corporation listed its address as follows[51]

1500 Wilson Blvd., 5th Floor
Arlington, VA 22209

Social Media


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