Turning Point USA

Turning Point USA (TPUSA)

Background

Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is a youth conservative activist organization founded by Charlie Kirk on June 5, 2012. According to its website, TPUSA’s “mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.”1About Turning Point USA,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/Aoiaa

They claim a presence on over 1,000 college campuses and high schools across the country, and label themselves the largest and fastest growing youth organization in America. The organization focuses on building “the most organized, active, and powerful conservative grassroots activist network on college campuses across the country” and has adopted the slogan “Big Government Sucks.”2About Turning Point USA,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/Aoiaa

In lieu of attending college, 18-year-old Charlie Kirk launched TPUSA with the guidance of William Montgomery3The 21-Year-Old Becoming a Major Player in Conservative Politics,” The Atlantic, March 2015. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/rGJ34 and seed funding4Julie Bykowicz. “This Boy Wonder Is Building the Conservative MoveOn.org in an Illinois Garage,” Bloomberg, May 7, 2015. from Foster Friess, a conservative donor with ties to the Koch brothers.5Gavin Aronsen.”Exclusive: The Koch Brothers’ Million-Dollar Donor Club,” Mother Jones, September 6, 2011. Archived February 26, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/0SgQo

In its 2017–2018 student chapter handbook, TPUSA claims it is non-partisan and focuses strictly on economic issues. The following is from the handbook’s prepared responses to “some commonly asked questions” when setting up a new chapter on campus:6“Turning Point USA Chapter Handbook: College Edition 2017-2018,” (PDF), Turning Point USA. Document created June 6, 2017.

3. How is your group unique and unlike other clubs already on campus? Turning Point USA is nonpartisan and will never partake in campaign activities of any kind (such as advocating for a specific candidate, making political phone calls, encouraging students to participate in campaign events, etc.). TPUSA does not associate with any political party. We also focus strictly on economic issues (no talk about abortion, gay marriage, etc.)”

While maintaining it is nonpartisan, the organization has close ties to the Trump administration. Kirk worked as a youth outreach specialist for Trump’s campaign, and Trump’s family members have been frequent speakers at TPUSA events.7Jane Meyer. “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity,” The New Yorker, December 21, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/npnGL TPUSA also engages students on issues including affirmative action,8“‘Affirmative Action Bake Sale’ charges University of New Mexico students based on race,” New York Daily News, September 23, 2017. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/dfnDe gender equality,9Charlie Kirk: Women Are Doing Much Better Than Men In America,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Turning Point USA,” January 29, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. sexual orientation,10There Are Only Two Genders,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Turning Point USA,” December 7, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. safe spaces,11Jared Hold. “Turning Point USA Chapter At Kent State Disbands Over Diaper Debacle,” Right Wing WAtch, February 12, 2018. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ZJByZ white privilege,12Charlie Kirk: The ‘White Privilege’ Label Is Racist,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Turning Point USA,” February 8, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. free speech,13College campuses have become a place where they want everyone to look different but think the same,” Twitter post by user @charliekirk11, January 23, 2018. Archived .png on file at DeSmog. trigger warnings,14Charlie Kirk on: Smashing Socialism, Snowflakes and Safe Spaces,” Facebook event, May 23, 2017. Archived .png on file at DeSmog. abortion,15Support late term abortion […],” Twitter post by user @charliekirk11, August 30, 2017. Archived .png on file at DeSmog. and others. The group has endorsed many controversial speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos,16Pam Vogel. “Meet Charlie Kirk, The ‘Boy Wonder’ Trump Ally Behind A Poorly Sourced McCarthy-Like Watchlist Of Professors,” Media Matters, December 2, 2016. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/PFgej Ann Coulter,17Ann Coulter’s AMAZING Speech at TPUSA’s Student Action Summit 2017,” YouTube video uploaded by user “The Nimble Navigator,” December 22, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. Joe Walsh,18K. Rambo. “Controversial right-wing speaker to appear on campus,” Iowa State Daily, October 17, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ci5pd and James O’Keefe.19SAS2017: James O’Keefe,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Turning Point USA,” January 27, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Turning Point USA began as a 501(c)4 nonprofit group and was granted 501(c)3 status in 2014, according to tax disclosures.20About Turning Point USA,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/Aoiaa

In a 2017 investigative piece at The New Yorker, Jane Mayer suggested TPUSA “may have skirted campaign-finance laws that bar charitable organizations from participating in political activity” in violation of its 501(c)3 status. The piece exposed direct coordination between TPUSA employees and Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to support Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. Ginni Thomas is also a member of TPUSA’s advisory council. Email lists of interested students gathered by TPUSA were given to employees of Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.21Jane Meyer. “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity,” The New Yorker, December 21, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/npnGL

TPUSA has been accused of violating spending cap and transparency laws for student government elections at college campuses across the US. Critics have called TPUSA a “Super PAC” for student government.22Michael Vasquez. “Inside a Stealth Plan for Political Influence,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 7, 2017. At Ohio State University, leaked text messages from a TPUSA director regarding a 2017 student government campaign stated, “Yes TP is funding the campaign but that’s very hush hush. Liberals consistently dominate campus student government and our goal is to take them out secretly without them knowing what’s coming.”23Nick Roll. “Leaked documents, audio: Conservative Turning Point USA quietly funding student government campaigns across US,” The Lantern, February 28, 2017. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ZVC4w

At Ohio State and the University of Maryland, student candidates backed by TPUSA were forced to drop out of campus elections due to violations of campaign spending rules and attempts to hide the help they received from TPUSA.24Nick Roll. “Leaked documents, audio: Conservative Turning Point USA quietly funding student government campaigns across US,” The Lantern, February 28, 2017. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ZVC4w

TPUSA has also been “alleged to have fostered an atmosphere that is hostile to minorities,”25Jane Meyer. “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity,” The New Yorker, December 21, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/npnGL and came under fire for connections to alt-right and white supremacist groups.26Kristina Khan and Shane Burley. “Young Fascists on Campus: Turning Point USA and Its Far-Right Connections,” Truthout, February 5, 2018. Archived February 26, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/1Mr3s

Professor Watchlist

TPUSA launched Professor Watchlist in November 2016. The website names professors it claims “advance a radical agenda in lecture halls” and promote “leftist propaganda in the classroom.”27About Us,” Professor Watchlist. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ZA8w4 As reported by the New York Times, Professor Watchlist has been seen as a threat to the academic freedom of professors who are personally attacked on the website.28Professor Watchlist Is Seen as Threat to Academic Freedom,” The New York Times, November 28, 2016. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/b64Fo It generates much of its content from Campus Reform, a project owned and managed by the Leadership Institute. Many professors have experienced online harassment and threats after being targeted on Watchlist29Dan Lieberman. “Death threats are forcing professors off campus,” CNN, December 28, 2017. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/onCZk whose “McCarthy-era tactics” have drawn ridicule and outrage in the academic community.30Mazin Sidahmed. “Professor Watchlist website elicits both fear and ridicule in US universities,” The Guardian, December 2, 2016.

The Leadership Institute is an official partner of TPUSA, and has received at least $246,389 from Koch-related foundations between 2003 and 2015.31Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine,” Greenpeace USA. Accessed March 14, 2017. Data on file at DeSmog. According to its website, The Leadership Institute’s32MISSION,” CampusReform. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/TIQoH Campus Reform Campus Correspondent Program “recruits, cultivates, and pays conservative student journalists all across the country to investigate and report liberal bias on college campuses throughout their state.” Many Campus Correspondents are also ranking members of TPUSA.33Campus Correspondents,” CampusReform. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/MyG7t

TPUSA Koch Connection

In addition to its ties with the Koch-funded Leadership Institute, Turning Point USA has received support from a range of Koch-tied groups. In 2017, The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) sponsored TPUSA’s Student Action Summit. FEE is a partner organization of both TPUSA34“Turning Point USA Chapter Handbook: College Edition 2017-2018,” (PDF), Turning Point USA. Document created June 6, 2017. and the Charles Koch Institute.35Partner Organizations,” Charles Koch Institute. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/E5OLT

Groups funding FEE include The Charles G. Koch Foundation, as well as the dark money groups DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund.36Foundation for Economic Education,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed February 27, 2018. Justin Steiff, the director of development for FEE,37Justin Steiff” Turning Point USA. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/9jeCU is on TPUSA’s advisory board.38Advisory Council,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/pQj6D

The Heritage Foundation is another partner organization of TPUSA,39“Turning Point USA Chapter Handbook: College Edition 2017-2018,” (PDF)Turning Point USA. Document created June 6, 2017. and sponsored their 2017 Student Action Summit.40Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit 2018,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/HqkVr According to Greenpeace, the Foundation has received over $5 million from Koch Foundations between 1997 and 2015.41The Heritage Foundation: Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group,” Greenpeace. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/uiWEp Another partner organization, the National Review Institute, is a recipient of Koch Funding.

TPUSA advisory board member42Advisory Council,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/pQj6D Adam Brandon is president of the Koch-affiliated group FreedomWorks.43Adam Brandon,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/OqeVW FreedomWorks’ predecessor, Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), was founded by the Koch brothers. Both CSE and FreedomWorks have received millions of dollars from the Koch family foundations, DonorsTrust, and Donors Capital Fund.

Foster Friess, a wealthy conservative donor with a history of attending closed door meetings with the Kochs, reportedly provided the seed money for TPUSA.44Julie Bykowicz. “This Boy Wonder Is Building the Conservative MoveOn.org in an Illinois Garage,” Bloomberg, May 7, 2015. He and Doug Deason,45Doug Deason,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 17, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/b6I7x another common Koch donor,46Adam B. Lerner. “Top Koch donors speak out publicly,” Politico, February 3, 2015. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/5fiUF both sit on the advisory board for TPUSA.47Advisory Council,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/pQj6D Deason also spoke at TPUSA’s 2017 Student Action Summit.48Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit 2018,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/HqkVr

Trump Connections

Charlie Kirk’s father, Robert W. Kirk, was the project architect manager for Trump Tower in New York.49Principal: Robert W. Kirk, AIA,” Group A Architects. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/22BcR Charlie Kirk personally volunteered for Donald Trump’s Trump’s presidential campaign, devoting two months during the election cycle. Kirk has consistently praised Trump, his family, and the Trump Administration in social media and in news outlets like Fox News.50“.@charliekirk11: “You look at what the president has accomplished over the last year, it’s absolutely unprecedented,” Twitter post by @FoxNews, January 7, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. He also appeared alongside the Trump family on the Hannity show.51Charlie Kirk Joins the Trump Family on Hannity,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Turning Point USA,” January 29, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

TPUSA advisory board members52Advisory Council,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/pQj6D Gentry Beach53Gentry Beach,Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ec9f8 and Thomas Hicks, Jr.54Thomas O. Kicks, Jr.Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/lc3gD raised millions of dollars for Donald Trump as national vice chairmen of his presidential campaign.55Cheryl Hall. “How two Dallas young guns helped deliver the White House to Trump,” Dallas News, November 11, 2016. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive .is URL: https://archive.is/ZSQHG The two also worked with Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump to sell access to Donald Trump to wealthy donors during the 2017 inauguration.56Carrie Levine. “How a trumped-up fundraiser with the first family imploded,” The Center for Public Integrity, December 21, 2016. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/Ddf3G Advisory board member Jon D. Willis57John D. Willis,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/rs1kN also helped fundraise money for the Trump presidential campaign. Beach is reportedly godfather to one of Donald Trump Jr.’s children.58Cheryl Hall. “How two Dallas young guns helped deliver the White House to Trump,” Dallas News, November 11, 2016. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive .is

In December 2017, Trump tweeted his thanks to Kirk for praising his performance as President:

Charlie Kirk spent New Years Eve 2017 at Mar-a-Lago with President Trump:

Charlie Kirk and Trump January 30th, 2018:

Accusations of Racism

As reported in The New Yorker, TPUSA’s former national field director and second-highest official for five years, Crystal Clanton, wrote in a text message to another Turning Point employee: “I hate black people. Like fuck them all … I hate blacks. End of story.”59Jane Meyer. “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity,” The New Yorker, December 21, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/npnGL

In his book, Kirk called Clanton “integral to the success of Turning Point” and stated “Turning Point needs more Crystals; so does America.” When contacted, Clanton claimed that she had no recollection of the text messages and said, “they do not reflect what I believe or who I am and the same was true when I was a teenager.” Charlie Kirk said in an email that Turning Point took decisive action after being made aware of the issue.60Jane Meyer. “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity,” The New Yorker, December 21, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/npnGL

Another former Turning Point employee, Gabrielle Fequiere, commented that she was the only African-American field director when she was hired by the group three years prior. “In looking back, I think it was racist,” she said. “At the time, I was blaming myself, and I thought I did something wrong.” Fequiere said that when she attended the annual student summit, speakers “spoke badly about black women having all these babies out of wedlock. It was really offensive.”  Kirk responded: “These accusations are absolutely baseless and even absurd.”61Jane Meyer. “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity,” The New Yorker, December 21, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/npnGL

In 2017, a Turning Point USA chapter faced criticism for its “Affirmative Action Bake Sale62“‘Affirmative Action Bake Sale’ charges University of New Mexico students based on race,” New York Daily News, September 23, 2017. Archived February 27, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/dfnDe that charged University of New Mexico students based on race. TPUSA’s 2017–2018 Student Handbook outlines in detail how chapters should design their own events:63“Turning Point USA Chapter Handbook: College Edition 2017-2018,” (PDF)Turning Point USA. Document created June 6, 2017.

“Hosting an affirmative action bake sale demonstrates the unfairness and inadvertent racism of affirmative action. It also offers a real life example of why big government sucks! This event requires 5-8 members to execute. […]

“You will need at least one poster board for affirmative action prices. Prices for cookies/brownies should be a variation of the following: $2.00 for White Students, $1.50 for Asian Students, $1.00 for Latino Students, $.50 for Black Students, and Free for Native American Students. Consider adding a $0.25 cents discount for all women.”

Turning Point USA News published an article suggesting that the Black Lives Matter movement should be labeled as domestic terrorism. “It ought to be considered — is Black Lives Matter a domestic terrorist group? I firmly say yes! I believe that the Black Lives Matter movement should be considered a domestic terrorist group,” the article read.64Is Black Lives Matter Domestic Terrorism?Turning Point USA News, January 12, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/alM4a

A spin-off group was launched in the UK on February 4, 2019, describing itself as “a student movement for free markets, limited government & personal responsibility.”65Lizzie Dearden. “Turning Point UK: Jacob Rees-Mogg and Tory MPs support new branch of ‘sinister’ right-wing US group,” The Independent, February 4, 2019. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/zkObf The group received support from a number of Conservative MPs including Priti Patel and climate science denier Jacob Rees-Mogg, in addition to other right-wing politicians such as former UKIP leader, Nigel Farage.66Media Mole. “The UK launch of right-wing youth group Turning Point is going about as well as expected,” New Statesman, February 4, 2019. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/mdpUd

The online launch of the movement turned out to be chaotic,67Gian Volpicelli. “How an army of farcical fakes ruined Turning Point UK’s big day,” Wired, February 6, 2019. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/G4D75 with members of the public setting up fake Twitter accounts to create confusion and poke fun at the group. One of the key figures behind the launch was John Mappin, a Scientologist who once awarded US President Donald Trump an “Honorary Camelot Castle Knighthood” from the hotel he runs in Cornwall, according to the NGO Hope not Hate.68Everything You Need To Know About The Launch of Turning Point UK,” Hope not Hate, February 5, 2019. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/N4x8A

When asked to reveal who funds the group, Mappin told Buzzfeed: “Well, the whole idea is to stay anonymous… That’s how they do it in the United States. It actually doesn’t matter who funds it because it’s about the ideas.”69Alex Spence, Mark Di Stefano. “Days After Its Disastrous British Launch, Turning Point Has Already Lost One Of Its Star Recruits,” Buzzfeed News, February 8, 2019. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/b3Lox

A formal launch event took place on December 11, 2018 at The Royal Automobile Club in London and was advertised as “A Gathering of Political Genius.”70Everything You Need To Know About The Launch of Turning Point UK,” Hope not Hate, February 5, 2019. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/N4x8A Guests at the event included notorious climate science denier James Delingpole, right-wing columnist Rod Liddle, Nigel Farage’s communications officer Dan Jukes, and Andy Wigmore, former communications director of the Leave.EU campaign, Buzzfeed reported.71Alex Spence, Mark Di Stefano. “Days After Its Disastrous British Launch, Turning Point Has Already Lost One Of Its Star Recruits,” Buzzfeed News, February 8, 2019. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/b3Lox

The group’s leader is George Farmer, a major Conservative Party donor who has been a member of the £50,000-a-year “Leader’s Group” of elite donors.72Register of Major Donors attending Leader’s Group Meals,” Conservatives, Q1 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Farmer is listed as a director73RED KITE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LLP,” Companies House. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/y8Nrq of the asset management company set up by his father, Lord Farmer, a former Conservative Party treasurer and millionaire commodities trader.74Henry Sanderson. “Lord Farmer’s Red Kite metals fund undergoing restructuring,” Financial Times, January 5, 2018. Archived February 19, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Farmer belonged to the scandal-hit elite drinking society, the Bullingdon Club,75Luke Harding, Robert Booth. “Tory ball where ministers and City’s richest mingled but bubbly was banned,” The Guardian, July 1, 2014. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/4y7zR while a student at Oxford University in 2013. He is friends with and frequently retweets Paul Joseph Watson, senior editor at conspiracy theory website Infowars.76Peter Walker. “Tory MPs back youth group with apparent links to US far right,” The Guardian, February 4, 2019. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Asp3n

Various leading figures within the group, such as Tom Harwood77Didn’t Al Gore tell us we had like ten years to save the planet back in 2006?” Tweet by @tomhfh, November 8, 2018. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archived .png on file at DeSmog. and Darren Grimes,78Give me strength, a bunch of middle class school kids are going on strike for ‘climate change’ to ‘save the planet’, all conveniently on a Friday! My mam would’ve clipped me round the lugs for bunking off school.” Tweet by @darrengrimes_, February 15, 2019. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archived .png on file at DeSmog. have expressed skepticism about the threat of climate change. Grimes tweeted in response to a “climate strike” by schoolchildren in February 2019: “I used to bunk off of school during PE – if only I could’ve used ‘climate change’ as an excuse and have it legitimised by our left wing media and politicians! Nightmare.”79I used to bunk off of school during PE – if only I could’ve used ‘climate change’ as an excuse and have it legitimised by our left wing media and politicians! Nightmare.” Tweet by @darrengrimes_, February 15, 2019. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archived .png on file at DeSmog. Grimes was fined £20,000 by the Electoral Commission80Jim Waterson. “Darren Grimes: the pro-Brexit student activist fined £20k,” The Guardian, July 17, 2018. Archived February 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/FcKLL for breaching spending rules during the EU referendum campaign but won an appeal against the fine in July 2019.81BeLeave: Pro-Brexit campaign group founder Darren Grimes wins appeal against £20k fine,” Sky News, July 19, 2019. Archived July 22, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/qQ4Vf

In June 2019, the BBC produced a video about 19-year-old Emily Hewertson, an “influencer” for Turning Point UK. Hewertson had gone viral after appearing in the audience of BBC’s politics show, Question Time, speaking in favour of Brexit.82‘I’m 19, I love a night out – but you can also love politics’ Emily is a young Conservative and aspiring politician. She went viral when she appeared on @bbcquestiontime and wants to challenge stereotypes of how a politician ‘should’ act and look.” Tweet by @bbcstories, June 5, 2019. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

In July, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he was “thrilled that Turning Point UK has opened” in a video for the group, adding:83If you really believe in something and keep on telling the truth, suddenly a little idea can become a very big one.” Tweet by @Nigel_Farage, July 10, 2019. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

“I know there are very large numbers of young people in this country who are scared. They’ve got convictions but in many ways they lack the courage to say them. And that’s where Turning Point UK comes in. You can join this organisation. You can know that you’ve got strength in numbers. You can know that you’re not alone. Turning Point UK is going to make us a more democratic society.”

Stance on Climate Change

Fossil fuel proponent Alex Epstein, who believes that increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere from fossil fuels “has only a mild warming impact,”84Alex Epstein. “Opinion: The planet has never been a safer place for humans to live,” Market Watch, April 22, 2016. Archived August 19, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/2nZCX is listed on the TPUSA Speakers Bureau. He also spoke at TPUSA’s 2017 Student Action Summit where he said “we’re not concerned about climate change, per se.”85TPUSA Speakers Bureau,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/BZkSw 86Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Turning Point USA,” December 22, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

TPUSA’s stamp is on a short video clip claiming that NASA scientists are “wrong about climate change”:87NASA Scientists Wrong About Climate Change,” YouTube video uploaded by Turning Point USA, October 27, 2017.

May 31, 2018

Candace Owens, TPUSA’s Communications Director until May 2019, said in a podcast with Joe Rogan:88Julio Rosas. “Candace Owens quits as communications director for Turning Point USA,” Washington Examiner, May 2, 2019. Archived May 3, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/mFlhH

“Let’s say we all agree that global warming is real – I don’t believe it’s real… I personally think that this was just the next – the fact that it was presented to us by Al Gore and it’s just -“89Joe Rogan & Candace Owens ARGUE Over Climate Change,” YouTube video uploaded by user “JRE Clips” on May 31, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Funding

Charlie Kirk has admitted to soliciting funds from the fossil fuel industry. He acknowledged in an interview that some donors of TPISA “are in the fossil-fuel space.”90Jane Meyer. “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity,” The New Yorker, December 21, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/npnGL Barry Russell, president and CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) is on the advisory council of TPUSA. Kirk has stated that most advisory council members contribute monetary support to the organization. A full list of TPUSA advisory council members can be found on their website.91Advisory Council,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/pQj6D

“To answer your question, no I will not disclose private giving amounts,” Kirk told International Business Times in an email. “Some people like the amount of their charitable giving to remain anonymous so we wish to honor that request.”92Alex Kotch. “Who Funds Conservative Campus Group Turning Point USA? Donors Revealed,” International Business Times, November 28, 2017. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/VipIa

IBT reported that, while TPUSA is not required to disclose its donors, they were able to track down over $900,000 in funding from “Republican mega-donor families, GOP politicians and other wealthy individuals.”93Alex Kotch. “Who Funds Conservative Campus Group Turning Point USA? Donors Revealed,” International Business Times, November 28, 2017. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/VipIa

At TPUSA’s 2017 Student Action Summit, speaker Patrick Caddell expressed the importance of the monetary support that TPUSA receives from Lee and Allie Hanley. The Hanley family owns Hanley Petroleum and Lee Hanley was a member of the National Petroleum Council before his passing in 2016. Allie Hanley remains a member of TPUSA’s advisory board.94Advisory Council,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/pQj6D 95Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Turning Point USA,” December 22, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

The following funding data has been compiled from publicly available 990 tax records and data from the Conservative Transparency project.96Turning Point USA,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed February 27, 2018.

See the attached spreadsheet for a complete look at Turning Point USA funding by year (.xlsx).

DonorContributions
Buckeye Foundation$577,500
Marcus Foundation$572,600
Foglia Family Foundation$395,000
Ed Uihlein Family Foundation$275,000
Michael and Andrea Leven Family Foundation$232,600
The Rauner Family Foundation$150,000
DonorsTrust$125,000
Donors Capital Fund$100,000
Thomas W Smith Foundation$100,000
The TWS Foundation$100,000
Emerson Family Foundation$100,000
National Christian Charitable Foundation$55,000
Nextgen Foundation Charitable Trust$50,000
David D Smith Family Foundation$50,000
Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco the Peninsula Marin and Sonoma$50,000
Bradley Impact Fund$35,000
Micron Industries Charitable Foundation$33,000
Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking$30,000
The Helen Diller Family Foundation$25,000
Huizenga Foundation$25,000
Abstraction Fund$25,000
Cabela Family Foundation$25,000
Alice Busch Gronewaldt Foundation$25,000
David and Janet Polak Foundation$25,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation$20,000
The Randolph Foundation$20,000
B Stephen Schloss Foundation$15,000
Chiavacci Family Foundation$15,000
Eyas Foundation$12,000
Einhorn Family Foundation$10,000
The Gillian S Fuller Foundation$10,000
William and Hope Simpson Foundation$10,000
The JM Foundation$10,000
Charles and Ann Johnson Foundation$10,000
Hertog Foundation$10,000
Vernon K Krieble Foundation$10,000
Al Williams Jr Family Foundation$10,000
Albert and Ethel Herzstein Family Foundation$10,000
Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation$10,000
Charles D and Frances K Field Fund$10,000
Garvy Family Foundation$10,000
Rowling Foundation$10,000
The Hamlin Family Foundation$10,000
National Center for Housing Management$10,000
Floyd Foundation$8,000
Wodecroft Foundation$8,000
Robert and Ann Kennedy Family Foundation$5,500
George and Reva Graziadio Foundation$5,000
Robert P Rotella Foundation$5,000
The McWethy Foundation$3,000
Eric Javits Family Foundation$2,500
Logos Charitable Fund$2,000
Landmark Charitable Foundation$1,000
Sullivan Family Fund$500
Berglund Family Foundation$500
Grand Total$3,453,700

Wellspring Committee Funding

According to 990 forms, Turning Point received a $50,000 grant from the Wellspring Committee in 2015. Wellspring is a 501(c)(4) organization that is the primary funding source behind the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a group dedicated to reforming the supreme court with conservative candidates and policy positions.

990 Forms

Key People

Board of Directors

Name2012201320142015201620172018Description
George F. HamstraYYYYYYY 
Charlie Kirk   YYYYFounder and Executive Director
William Montgomery   YYYYSenior Advisor
Bruno BehrendYYY     
Scott StudebakerY       

Advisory Council

Name20142015201620172018
Adam AndrzejewskiYYYYY
Elizabeth AmesYYYYY
Randal BirkeyYYYYY
Sally WagenmakerYYYYY
Scott MartinYYYYY
Tim OzingaYYYYY
Gary Rabine YYYY
Jameson G. Campaigne YYYY
Sarah Laszloffy YYYY
Stephen Bienko YYYY
Willard Helander YYYY
Allie Hanley  YYY
Anthony Saliba  YYY
Barry Russell  YYY
Blake Saunders  YYY
Brian Kelly  YYY
Cameron Powell  YYY
Chart Westcott  YYY
Don Leighton  YYY
Doug Deason  YYY
Doug DeGroote  YYY
Ed Zeman  YYY
Elisha Krauss  YYY
G. Louis Graziadio  YYY
Gentry Beach  YYY
George Strake, Jr.  YYY
Gil Baumgarten  YYY
Ginni Thomas  YYY
Gregory Thornbury  YYY
Hanley Sayers III  YYY
Henry P. ‘Rip’ McIntosh, IV  YYY
Janis Sleeter  YYY
Jennifer Schubert-Akin  YYY
Jim Holden  YYY
Joe Walsh  YYY
John Chachas  YYY
John Drogin  YYY
Jonathan Lusk  YYY
Justin Streiff  YYY
Karen Wolters  YYY
Marc Kruer  YYY
Mike Leven  YYY
Mike Miller  YYY
Nick Adams  YYY
Peter Theron  YYY
Robert Rubin  YYY
Ryan Bethea  YYY
Scott Studebaker  YYY
Stephen Einhorn  YYY
Thomas O. Hicks, Jr.  YYY
Tom Cox  YYY
Tom Sleeter  YYY
Tom Sodeika  YYY
William Frech  YYY
William Stephens  YYY
David Duval   YY
Jennifer Grossman   YY
Jon D. Willis   YY
Andrew S. Borans    Y
David J Blumberg    Y
E.W Turk    Y
Joel Fischer    Y
John A. Catsimatidis, Jr.    Y
Kirk Blumm    Y
Sean Woods    Y
Steve Mariotti    Y
Wayne Newkumet    Y
Brent Hamachek  YY 
Greg Noack Y   
Scott Longman Y   
Adam Brandon   YY
Drew Ryun  YYY
Foster Friess  YYY
Paul Vallely  YYY

Speakers Bureau

In addition to those listed below, the TPUSA website suggests: “The National Review Institute also has a list of speakers that TPUSA chapters may invite to campus.”97TPUSA Speakers Bureau,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/BZkSw

Name20142015201620172018Description
Charlie KirkYYYYYFounder and Executive Director
Alex Epstein  YYY 
Antony Davies  YYY 
Brent Hamachek  YYY 
Elisha Krauss  YYY 
Jason Riley  YYY 
Joe Walsh  YYY 
Julie Borowski  YYY 
Katie Kieffer  YYY 
Larry Schweikart  YYY 
Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed  YYY 
Nick Adams  YYY 
Richard K. Vedder  YYY 
Tomi Lahren  YYY 
Trevor Burrus  YYY 
Kimberlin Brown   YY 
Kimberly Corban   YY 
Tim Young   YY 
Antonia Okafor    Y 
Austin PaulYY   Georgia State Director
Justin KrolikYY    
Marko SukovicYY    
Ryder SelmiYY   New Hampshire State Directo
Caleb Franz Y   Columnist
Daniel Herrera Y    
Ethan Wallace Y    
Phillip Stucky Y    
Robert Graham Y   Freelance Political Campaigns Consultant/Manager
Rosalyn Huff Y    
Berent BaturY     
Chris EnloeY     
Lauren CooleyY    Florida Field Coordinator
Liz WheelerY     
Michael IlardiY     
Michael MarrowY     
Saga LissloY     
Ty CaskeyY     

Staff

Name201320142015201620172018Description
Charlie Kirk YYYYYFounder and Executive Director of Turning Point USA
Jake Hoffman   YYYMedia and Communications Consultant Headquarters
Tyler Bowyer  YY YChief Operational Officer Headquarters
Crystal Clanton YYYY National Field Director Headquarters
Bill Montgomery  YYY Senior Advisor Headquarters
Alex Seavey   YY Events Coordinator Headquarters
Cooper Parker   YY Field Program Associate Headquarters
Emily Cermak   YY Field Program Associate Headquarters
Ron Feingold   YY Israel Outreach & Engagement Director Headquarters
Shelby Simmons   YY Field Program Associate Headquarters
Thomas Hern   YY Deputy National Field Director Headquarters
Chase Sick  YY  Montana Field Director, Bozeman, MT
Aaron Strom   Y  Virginia Field Director, Lynchburg, VA
Adam Sharf   Y  Oregon Field Director, Eugene, OR
Alex Artiles   Y  Florida Field Director, Tallahassee, FL
Alex Badger   Y  Campus Leadership Director, Raleigh, NC
Alex Chorak   Y  Quartermaster, Mesa, AZ Office
Amy Samuel   Y  Campus Leadership Director, Iowa City, IA
Andrew Sypher   Y  Arizona Field Director, Phoenix, AZ
Anna Bauch   Y  Illinois Field Director, Chicago, IL
Austin Smith   Y  Quartermaster, Mesa, AZ Office
Bethany Bowra   Y  Florida Field Director, Boca Raton, FL
Bobby McNeily   Y  Campus Leadership Director, Chicago, IL
Brad Fox   Y  Campus Leadership Director, Portland, OR
Brandon Johnson   Y  Tennessee Field Director, Knoxville, TN
Brea Walters   Y  Oregon Field Director, Portland, OR
Caleb Hull   Y  Ohio Field Director, Cedarville, OH
Caroline Craig   Y  North Carolina Field Director, Greensboro, NC
Caroline Stout   Y  Operations Manager Headquarters
Chris Melmer   Y  Deputy Virginia State Director, Charlottesville, VA
Christian Costa   Y  South Carolina Field Director, Clemson, SC
Christian Lemke   Y  South Carolina Field Director, Columbia, SC
Corrie Smith   Y  Oregon Field Director, Portland, OR
Dallas Knierman   Y  North Carolina Field Director, Greensboro, NC
Derek Muncy   Y  Ohio Field Director, Dayton, OH
Devin Bilski   Y  Ohio Field Director, Columbus, OH
Dominique Blair   Y  California Field Director, Los Angeles, CA
Driena Sixto   Y  Florida Field Director, Miami, FL
Emily Ethridge   Y  Pennsylvania Field Director, Beaver Falls, PA
Emily Parry   Y   Deputy Arizona State Director, Phoenix, AZ
Gabe Hill   Y  Virginia Field Director, Richmond, VA
Gina Jochimsen   Y  Iowa Field Director, Iowa City, IA
Gunnar Thorderson   Y  Utah Field Director, Salt Lake City, UT
Guyar Vial   Y  Oregon Field Director, Portland, OR
Haeli Moure   Y  Campus Leadership Director, Washington, DC
Jacob Vandever   Y  Oregon Field Director, Corvallis, OR
Jake Corsi   Y  Quartermaster, Mesa, AZ Office
James Ward   Y  Florida Field Director, Pensacola, FL
John Digiacobbe   Y  Ohio Field Director, Oxford, OH
Jonathan Narramore   Y  Texas Field Director, Dallas, TX
Jordan Miller   Y  Virginia Field Director, Washington, D.C.
Jordan Orris   Y  Campus Leadership Director, Gainesville, FL
Julio Rosas   Y  HYPELINE staff Writer Headquarters
Kaytee Moyers   Y  Pennsylvania Field Director, Harrisburg, PA
Keira Hornyak   Y  Florida Field Director, Gainesville, FL
Kennedy Copeland   Y  Campus Leadership Director, Cincinnati, OH
Kevin Kane   Y  Pennsylvania Field Director, Philadelphia, PA
Laura Hutson   Y  Deputy Virginia State Director, Richmond, VA
Law Yoon   Y  Nevada Field Director, Las Vegas, NV
Marie Brown   Y  Virginia Field Director, Blacksburg, VA
Marilyn Alexander   Y  Colorado Field Director Boulder, CO
Nathan Williamson   Y  Michigan Field Director, Kalamazoo, MI
Nick Castle   Y  Florida Field Director, Orlando, FL
Nick Cocca   Y  Ohio Field Director, Akron, OH
Nick VandenNieuwenhof   Y  Campus Leadership Director, Phoenix, AZ
Nina Doll   Y  Michigan Field Director, Detroit, MI
Patrick Wool   Y  Illinois Field Director, Chicago, IL
Rebecca Oakley   Y  Quartermaster, Mesa, AZ Office
Sam Correia   Y  California Field Director, Sacramento, CA
Samantha Wilson   Y  Illinois Field Director, Carbondale, IL
Sarah Swanbeck   Y  Campus Leadership Director, Austin, TX
Shialee Grooman   Y  Quartermaster, Mesa, AZ Office
Spencer Roesener   Y  Campus Leadership Director, Nashville, TN
Spencer White   Y  West Virginia Field Director, Huntington, WV
Tanner Lloyd   Y  Oregon Field Director, Corvallis, OR
Tanner Milazzo   Y  Indiana Field Director, Indianapolis, IN
Taylor Montgomery   Y  Florida Field Director, Tallahassee, FL
Thomas Tullis   Y  Oregon Field Director, Eugene, OR
Timon Prax   Y  Ohio Field Director, Cleveland, OH
Troy Meeker   Y  Quartermaster, Mesa, AZ Office
Zoe Baumann   Y  Oregon Field Director, Corvallis, OR
Bree Binder YY   Texas Field Director | Houston, TX
Darya Fomitchev YY   Executive Assistant
Faith Braverman YY   Texas Field Director | San Antonio, TX
Katherine Sodeika YY   Events Coordinator
Stephanie Conway YY   Texas Field Director | Dallas, TX
Caitlin Butler  Y   Florida Field Director | Orlando, FL
Calli Brauer  Y   Administrative Assistant
Carmen Foskey  Y   Pennsylvania Field Director | Philadelphia, PA
Cheryl Wellman  Y   Payroll/HR Manager
Devon Mirsky  Y   Pacific West Regional Director, Los Angeles, CA
Gillian Castillo  Y   Florida Field Director | Tallahassee, FL
Holly Barajas  Y   Shipping and Processing Director
Jake Dagel  Y   Iowa Field Director | Des Moines, IA
Joshua Thifault  Y   Ohio Field Director | Columbus, OH
Kara Hamilton  Y   Illinois Field Director | Chicago, IL
Nathan Wirebaugh  Y   Ohio Field Director | Toledo, OH
Tex Fischer  Y   Ohio/PA Regional Director, Youngstown, OH
Jennifer C. BabbingtonYY    Chief Operations Officer
Kevin BabbingtonYY    Technology advisor
Laura ReigleYY     
William MontgomeryYY    Senior Advisor for Turning Point USA
Brett Hill Y    North Carolina Field Coordinator | Raleigh, NC
Dan Lipka Y    Social Media Director
Ellie Wessel Y    Communications Manager
Lauren Cooley Y    Florida Field Coordinator | Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Marko Sukovic Y     
Sadie Schultz Y    Office Manager
Samantha Golden Y    Illinois Field Coordinator | Champaign, IL

Actions

September 2021

As reported at The Guardian, a leaked document of the membership of the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP) showed that TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk had become a member.98Jason Wilson. “Top Republicans rub shoulders with extremists in secretive rightwing group, leak reveals,” The Guardian, September 30, 2021. Archived October 5, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/6roqk

The group’s membership includes a mix of “Conservative movement heavyweights” like Lisa B Nelson, Chief Executive of the American Legislative Exchange Council; Eugene Mayer, president of the Federalist Society; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Daniel Schneider, executive director of the American Conservative Union, among others.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes the CNP as “a highly secretive group, is a key venue where mainstream conservatives and extremists mix.”99The Council for National Policy: Behind the Curtain,” Southern Poverty Law Center, May 17, 2016. Archived October 5, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/woeqy

“Other members of the group represent organizations that operate under a veil of secrecy, with conservative ‘dark money’ organizations well represented,” The Guardian noted, with examples including Lawson Bader of Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund and Richard Graber of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

March 2021

As reported by Documented, TPUSA was working on the launch of an “America-first education” that would target children in K-12 education. The program would go by the. name “Turning Point Academy.”100Nick Surgey. “TPUSA is launching an ‘America-first education’ program to indoctrinate 5 year olds,” Documented, March 25, 2021. Archived March 31, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/lsYgj

It aims to train thousands of teachers beginning in the fall to “transform” the way our children “perceive freedom, government, and free enterprise” using a TPUSA designed “America-first” curriculum.101Nick Surgey. “TPUSA is launching an ‘America-first education’ program to indoctrinate 5 year olds,” Documented, March 25, 2021. Archived March 31, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/lsYgj

According to a TPUSA description of the project:102Nick Surgey. “TPUSA is launching an ‘America-first education’ program to indoctrinate 5 year olds,” Documented, March 25, 2021. Archived March 31, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/lsYgj

“Turning Point Academy will develop and distribute K-12 curricula focused on American history, our founding principles, the Constitution, and economics. These curricula will help all educators, including homeschool parents, provide their children and students with a reliable, honest, and quality America-first education—all at NO COST.”

“Turning Point Academy will also train thousands of educators nationwide on how to use Turning Point Academy curricular in their classroom and how they can adopt new lessons to help transform the way our young people perceive freedom, government, and free enterprise.”

“Turning Point Academy is America’s best hope to inspire countless young people to love America again.”

January 7, 2021

Documented reported TPUSA’s lobbying arm, Turning Point Action, was among a list of groups ” Participating in the March to Save America”—the event that preceded the US capitol riot.103Jamie Corey. “Republican Attorneys General Dark Money Group Organized Protest Preceding Capitol Mob Attack,” Documented, January 7, 2021. Archived March 31, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/N3m48 The groups appeared on a since-deleted page on the since-taken-down website for March to Save America.104Join President Donald J. Trump outside the White House on January 6,” MarchtoSaveAmerica.com. Archived January 5, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Rt5bz

October 9, 2020

CNN reported Facebook had banned marketing firm Rally Forge, which had worked on behalf of Turning Point USA running fake accounts criticising former Vice President Joe Biden and praising President Trump.105Donie O’Sullivan and Kaya Yurieff. “Facebook bans company it says ran fake accounts for Turning Point,” CNN, October 9, 2020. Archived October 23, 2020. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/zG4kq

March, 2019

TPUSA leaders Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens toured the UK alongside the newly formed Turning Point UK branch of the organisation. Events were billed as a “Campus Clash”, with a chance for attendees to “challenge the Turning Point team,” and were held in London, Nottingham and Brighton, where Sussex University Conservative Society hosted the group.106Richard Collett-White. “Turning Point: Meet the Climate Science Denying, Fossil Fuel Funded US Student Group Coming to a UK Campus Near You,” DeSmog, March 12, 2019.

June 13, 2018

A copy of a Young America’s Foundation (YAF) memo critical of TPUSA was leaked to the press. According to the internal memo:107Michael Vasquez. “Leaked Memo From Conservative Group Cautions Students to Stay Away From Turning Point USA,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 15, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/8OGaV

“The long-term damage TPUSA could inflict on conservative students and the Conservative Movement can no longer be ignored.

Although it runs counter to our instincts to advise students against becoming involved with other conservative organizations, students deserve to be warned about TPUSA. “

A YAF National spokesman confirmed the veracity of the memo,108Philip Wegmann. “Young America’s Foundation warns Charlie Kirk could cause ‘long-term damage‘,” Washington Examiner, June 13, 2018. Archived June 19, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/qGpal and former YAF employee Caleb Hull wrote on Twitter that “everything in this memo is true.”109Michael Vasquez. “Leaked Memo From Conservative Group Cautions Students to Stay Away From Turning Point USA,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 15, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/8OGaV

According to YAF, after the press obtained a copy of the memo, “a Turning Point USA spokesperson distorted what Young America’s Foundation was communicating.”110YAF Memo: Advising Our Students About TPUSA,” Young America’s Foundation, June 14, 2018. Archived June 19, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/AoQN2 In response, YAF released the full text of the May 25, 2018 memo “to set the record straight.”111“RE: Advising our Students about TPUSA” (PDF), YAF.org, May 25, 2018.

The memo highlighted Kirk’s potential skirting of 501(c)(3) non-profit rules:

“Several news outlets have reported that Kirk’s activities on behalf of TPUSA may have crossed a line in violation of laws regulating 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.  The alleged violations call into question Kirk’s judgment—not only about risking the loss of TPUSA’s non-profit status—but also about giving credence to the Left’s narrative that conservative nonprofits should be more heavily regulated.”112YAF Memo: Advising Our Students About TPUSA,” Young America’s Foundation, June 14, 2018. Archived June 19, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/AoQN2

The memo includes an email from Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) warning its supporters of how TPUSA had illegally obtained, and potentially used one if the group’s private membership lists. 

“[U]nlawfully obtaining and using YAL’s private membership list for their own purposes just went too far and shouldn’t go unaddressed,” the YAL email noted.

The memo listed a number of offenses listed by other organizations against TPUSA  including:

“Paid TPUSA staff members attending other organizations’ events under false pretenses and attempting to recruit for TPUSA from the other organizations’ existing members

“Paid TPUSA staff members claiming credit for other organizations’ events by posting pictures on social media of students with TPUSA signs in front of other organizations’ events

Kirk making knowingly false statements about the longtime leader of another conservative organization to a supporter of that organization”

Other charges in the memo include boosting membership “with racist and Nazi sympathizers,” and of sponsoring “humiliating” events on college campuses

December 19, 2017

Turning Point USA held its “Student Action Summit.” Trump administration officials and family members spoke at the event including Donald Trump Jr.,113SAS2017: Donald Trump Jr.” YouTube video uploaded by user “Turning Point USA,” January 24, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. Lara Trump, Wilbur Ross, and Sebastian GorkaAnthony Scaramucci was scheduled to attend but was not present at the summit.114TPUSA Student Action Summit Agenda,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/gnp8X 115Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Speaks To Turning Point USA’s SAS,Turning Point USA, December 20, 2017. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/N3jzv

At the Student Action Summit, Sebastian Gorka told TPUSA members and livestream watchers that they must actively work to support Trump’s agenda:116Turning Point USA SAS 2017 – Keynote speakers,” YouTube video uploaded by user “kerkey55.” Archived.mp4 on file at DeSmog.

“Push back on the lies. You’re all members of Turning Point USA team now. I’m going to make all of you official members. I don’t have any member cards to give. You can make them, right? Laminated. But you are now officially all members of team Trump, okay? And I want you to act like that. I want you to consider yourself part of the team and I want you to think about at the beginning of the day, when you wake up, say your prayers and ask yourself what am I going to do for the president today? What am I going to do for his agenda? At the end of the day, say your prayers and ask yourself, did I achieve what I wanted to achieve? Every waking day, okay. I’ll give you one day off. One day off a week.”

During his speech, Pat Caddell expressed the importance of the monetary support that TPUSA receives from Lee and Allie Hanley. The Hanley family owns Hanley Petroleum and Lee Hanley was a member of the National Petroleum Council before his passing in 2016. Allie Hanley remains a member of TPUSA’s advisory board.117Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Turning Point USA,” December 22, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress (CIP), was a featured speaker. He declared to the audience, “we’re not concerned about climate change, per se. […] The question is not how much we are changing the climate, that’s not the fundamental question. That’s the ‘Earth framework’ that says thou shalt not change the Earth. I don’t believe that at all.”118Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Turning Point USA,” December 22, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Sponsors of TPUSA’s event were not consistent across all materials, with one set listed on the TPSA website in 2017, another list but as of 2018, and a final list in the event materials:

Sponsor2017 – Archived TPUSA Website119Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit 2017,” Turning Point USA. Archived October 27, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/iL3KY2018 – TPUSA Website120Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit 2018,” Turning Point USA. Archived March 5, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/Mhi8KEvent Materials 121SAS 2017 Sponsors brochure. Archived .jpg on file at DeSmog.
Alliance Defending FreedomY Y
American Conservative CoalitionYYY
Bill Whittle.com  Y
Campus Reform  Y
Empowered  Y
Foundation for Economic EducationYYY
Foundation for Individual Rights in EducationYYY
Future Female LeadersYYY
Generation Opportunity WeekY  
Grassroots Leadership AcademyY  
Job Creators NetworkYYY
Kira Media  Y
Leadership Institute  Y
National School Choice WeekY Y
Patriot Threads Y 
Prager University YY
Reason FoundationYYY
Stand With Us  Y
The Heritage FoundationY Y
The King’s College  Y
U.S. Term Limits YY
USA Convention of States Action YY
Vote America YY
Young Jewish Conservatives  Y
Young Women for AmericaYYY
Zionist Organization of AmericaY Y

SAS2017 speakers included:122TPUSA Student Action Summit Agenda,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/gnp8X

NameAffiliation
Alex Epstein 
Allie StuckeyThe Blaze
Ann Coulter 
Anthony ScaramucciTrump Administration
Antonia Okafor 
Ben Shapiro 
Bill Whittle 
Brian KilmeadeFox News
Cabot PhillipsFox News
Candace Owens 
Charlie Kirk 
David Rubin 
Dennis Prager 
Dinesh D’Souza 
Donald Trump Jr.Trump Administration
Doug Deason 
Greg GutfeldFox News
Guy Benson 
James O’Keefe 
Jeanine PirroFox News
Jesse WattersFox News
Joe Walsh 
Kayleigh McEnany (*Cancelled)Trump Administration
Kelli Ward 
Lara TrumpTrump Administration
Larry Schweikart 
Lauren CooleyRed Alert Politics
Lawrence B. Jones IIThe Blaze
Lawrence ReedFoundation for Economic Education
Mark Meckler 
Pat Caddell 
Pete Hegseth 
Ron DeSantis 
Scott Walker 
Sebastian GorkaTrump Administration
Tomi LahrenFox News
Wilbur RossTrump Administration

October 2017

The Kent State chapter of Turning Point USA faced public ridicule and social media backlash following an event where students wore adult diapers and sucked on pacifiers to protest safe spaces. The leader of the Kent State chapter resigned and announced the chapter would dissolve after the controversy.123Jared Holt. “Turning Point USA Chapter At Kent State Disbands Over Diaper Debacle,” Right Wing Watch, February 12, 2018. Archived March 2, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ZJByZ

“We support all of our chapters to do innovative and creative activism events,” Charlie Kirk said in an interview with Breitbart. “Some ideas work great, others get mixed reaction. We are strong opponents of the safe space, micro-aggression, trigger warning culture that has been created on campuses. The efficacy remains to be seen but the message is consistent.”124Tom Ciccotta. “Turning Point USA Activists Wear Diapers to Protest Safe Space Culture,” Breitbart, October 19, 2017. Archived March 3, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/YwYT6

The chapter’s leader publicly resigned and announced the dissolution of the chapter following what she believed was inadequate response by Turning Point USA to the ridicule.125Jared Holt. “Turning Point USA Chapter At Kent State Disbands Over Diaper Debacle,” Right Wing Watch, February 12, 2018. Archived March 2, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ZJByZ

Kent State’s Turning Point USA chapter president and campus coordinator Kaitlin Bennett wrote a letter addressed to Turning Point USA field director Frankie O’Laughlin and regional manager Alana Mastrangelo voicing her complaints. Bennett claimed Turning Point USA had known that the protesters at the event belonged to Young Americans for Liberty and not Turning Point, but that TPUSA still let members “face the consequences of online harassment.” Excerpts from her resignation letter below:126I’m Turning Point USA’s Top Activist in the Country, & I Quit this Shitty Organization,” Liberty Hangout, February 12, 2018. Archived March 3, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/OxZd3

“I was embarrassed to have been left alone to deal with the aftermath of the safe space event, and even lied about by Turning Point national. You two approved the event but took zero responsibility to save face for yourselves. Not only did I invite you to attend our entire free speech week, but you even told me you would help me apply for a grant for the event. I was also made aware by other Turning Point chapters under your watch that you were fully aware that Young Americans for Liberty members were the ones who dressed up as children, and that instead of putting the blame where it belonged, you not only distanced yourself from the event, but you let my chapter face the consequences of online harassment. I am appalled that national headquarters lied about, and put one of their own chapters under the bus just so they wouldn’t upset another organization.”

She also criticized Charlie Kirk for being “egotistic enough to put their face on stupid memes”: 

“I have realized how much of a shithole organization Turning Point USA is, and am glad I got out of this bullshit before I invested my whole life into it, let alone just my senior year of college. Now that I have a clear conscience and have no desire to continue my employment with Turning Point, I will have the time to find a real job, something I recommend for you. Maybe answering to business professionals rather than college dropouts, egotistic enough to put their face on stupid memes, will give you the leadership skills you desperately need for your positions.” 

September 26 – October 9, 2016

TPUSA student chapters endorsed “Fossil Fuels Saves Lives Week,”127Fossil Fuels Save Lives!” Twitter post by user “@TPUSA,” July 15, 2017. Archived .png on file at DeSmog. a campaign128It’s ‘Fossil Fuels Save Lives’ week…Facebook post by Turning Point USA, September 27,2016. Archived March 2, 2018. Archive.is URL:https://archive.is/v817P with the intent of conveying “the benefits of fossil fuels while refuting many of the widespread myths about this life-saving energy source.”129Fall 2016 Activism Program,” Turning Point USA. Archived March 2, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/9trtP The campaign included pro-fossil fuel memes130Making Quality Of Life Possible!” me.me. Archived .on file at DeSmog. and graphics for use on social media.131#FossilFuelsSaveLives,” Twitter post by user “@charliekirk11,” January 27, 2017.

NamePartner (2016 Chapter Handbook) 132“TURNING POINT USA Chapter Handbook” (PDF)Turning Point USA. Document created October 7, 2016.Partner (2017-2018 Chapter Handbook)133“Turning Point USA Chapter Handbook: College Edition 2017-2018,” (PDF)Turning Point USA. Document created June 6, 2017.Partner (Listed on Website, 2018) 134Our Partners,” Turning Point USA. Archived February 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/aqVIv
America’s Future Foundation  Y
Ayn Rand Institute  Y
David Horowitz Freedom Center  Y
Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)YY 
Future Female Leaders  Y
Heritage Action for America  Y
HypelineY  
In the Constitution  Y
Intercollegiate Studies Institute  Y
Job Creators Network  Y
Leadership InstituteYYY
National Review/National Review InstituteYYY
National School Choice Week  Y
Open the Books  Y
Opportunity Lives  Y
Prager University (PragerU)YYY
Red Alert Politics  Y
The Atlas Network Y 
The Atlas Society  Y
The Heartland InstituteY Y
The Heritage Foundation Y 
The Steamboat Institute  Y
Victims of Communism Y 

David Horowitz Freedom Center

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “the Freedom Center has become the premier financier of anti-Muslim voices and radical ideologies.”135Charlie Kirk on Taking on the Campus Left,” FrontpageMag, December 6, 2017. Archived March 5, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/0xlVt Charlie Kirk spoke at the Freedom Center’s “Restoration Weekend” in 2017, where he described the David Horowitz Foundation as a “cornerstone of the growth of Turning Point U.S.A.”136DAVID HOROWITZ,” Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived March 5, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/5G8V4

Kirk also personally thanked David Horowitz, saying “I can’t thank you enough for your mentorship and guidance and advice throughout the years, so thank you.” At the same event in 2015, Charlie stated, “I can honestly say that our success now as an organization — we have over 61 full-time staff, 53 in the field — is in large part because of the embracing of Horowitz Freedom Center attendees, staff and Mike Finch.”137Charlie Kirk on Taking on the Campus Left,” FrontpageMag, December 6, 2017. Archived March 5, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/0xlVt

Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute has prided itself on being at the forefront of denying man-made climate change, and has been funded by Exxon, the Koch brothers, the Mercer family and big tobacco. Heartland has promoted TPUSA and held numerous speaking events with Kirk.138Packed house for talk with @charliekirk11 and Brent Hamachek at #TurningpointUSA conference. We have them for event in Feb,” Twitter post by user @HeartlandInst, December 18, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. At a Heartland event in 2017, Kirk said, “The Heartland institute was a partner from day one to help us with supplies, material and assistance and good will and really helped start a movement on college campuses.”139Charlie Kirk & Brent Hamachek: Time for a Turning Point,” YouTube video uploaded by user “The Heartland Institute,” February 8, 2017.

Prager University

Prager University (PragerU) is a nonprofit group founded by talk show host Dennis Prager and funded largely by the fracking industry billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks, who have gained a reputation as “the Koch brothers of the Christian Right.”140Bill Lambrecht. “‘Undercover billionaires’ now in the political spotlight,” San Antonio Express-News, February 13, 2016. Archived August 30, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/vDHgV TPUSA’s 2017-2018 student handbook encourages members to become “well-versed in policy/talking points” by watching PragerU videos and to share the videos with other TPUSA members.141“Turning Point USA Chapter Handbook: College Edition 2017-2018,” (PDF)Turning Point USA. Document created June 6, 2017. According to a Rewire profile, Dennis Prager, has “historically fought against what he describes as ‘liberal’ evils—marriage equality, feminism, and multiculturalism.”142Bria Shea. “Fracking Titans Spend Millions Proselytizing School Children,” Rewire, April 30, 2015. Archived August 29, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/SphpV

Their partnership includes an exchange of content and speakers like Antonia Okafor, Dave Rubin, and Ben Shapiro. Marissa Streit, the CEO of Prager University, is on the board of advisors of TPUSA. Charlie Kirk sits on PragerU’s advisory board143Advisory Board Members,” PragerU. Archived March 5, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/nqoYm and has also appeared in PragerU videos such as “The Least Diverse Place in America144The Least Diverse Place in America,” PragerUApril 13, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. and “Game of Loans.”145Game of Loans,” PragerU, November 9, 2015.

TPUSA also produces videos of Dennis Prager for dissemination on social media.

Contact & Address

According to TPUSA’s 2013/2014 990 form:

Turning Point USA Nfp
217 1/2 E Illinios St
Lemont, IL 60439

Social Media

Other Resources

Resources

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