Non-profit

Turning Point Action

Website:

www.tpaction.com/%20

Location:

Phoenix, AZ

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

President:

Charlie Kirk

Type:

Conservative PAC

Turning Point Action (TPA) is the political advocacy arm of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a right-of-center student organization which claims to have a presence on over 2,500 campuses. [1]

TPUSA was founded in 2012 by Charlie Kirk while he was in high school, with support from marketing entrepreneur William Montgomery. The group primarily organizes events on college campuses to promote right-of-center policies and culture-war issues, and has attracted much controversy. During the 2016 presidential election, TPUSA exploded in popularity and emerged as the leading national student group supporting the candidacy of Republican candidate Donald Trump.

In May 2019, Kirk founded TPA to engage in the 2020 election. Soon after, TPA purchased Students for Trump, of which Kirk had previously been Chairman. [2]

TPA supported President Donald Trump and Georgia’s Republican then-U.S. Senators, David Purdue (R-GA) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA). While TPA coordinated Kirk’s political efforts, Kirk was also accused of using TPUSA resources to support President Trump in violation of its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. For example, early donors to TPA were promised a bumper sticker produced by TPUSA. [3] Later, TPA’s social media campaign used materials produced by TPUSA. [4]

Political Expenditures

In the 2020 election cycle, Turning Point Action spent over $1.5 million on independent expenditures, with $1 million going to support Republican candidates, and $500,000 being spent to oppose Democrats. All candidates financially supported by TPA lost their elections. [5]

TPA focused most of its efforts on the presidential election by spending $684,476 to support President Donald Trump, and $359,233 to oppose Joe Biden (D-DE). [6]

Nearly all of the rest of TPA’s funds were spent on the contentious Georgia Senatorial campaigns, with $178,272 spent to support Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and $156,692 spent in support of Republican Senator David Purdue (R-GA). The TPA also spent $78,418 to oppose Democrat Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and $75,416 to oppose Democrat Jon Ossoff (D-GA). [7]

TPA also spent $466 in favor of Republican Tiffany Shed (R-AZ), who unsuccessfully ran for Arizona’s first Congressional district. [8]

Endorsements

In the 2020 election cycle, Turning Point Action endorsed six Republicans in addition to President Trump and then-U.S. Senators David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler. TPA endorsed Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), both of whom successfully ran for reelection. TPA endorsed Bill Hagerty (R-TN), who successfully ran for Senate in Tennessee. And TPA endorsed Esther Joy King (R-IL), Rick McCormick (R-GA), and Tiffany Shed (R-AZ), all of whom lost their Congressional races. [9]

2020 Social Media Campaign

In Fall 2020, Turning Point Action was discovered to have paid teenagers through its marketing firm to use real and fake social media accounts to promote thousands of posts created by TPUSA to support the reelection of then-President Trump. Some of this material was criticized for publicizing alleged instances of voter fraud to undermine the legitimacy of the election. The Washington Post called TPA’s campaign a “troll farm” while Kirk defended the social media posters by claiming they were expressing legitimate beliefs. [10]

In September 2020, Facebook banned 200 Facebook accounts, 55 Facebook pages, and 76 Instagram accounts linked to the campaign. Twitter later banned 262 similar accounts. [11]

Accusations of Instigating Capitol Riot

On January 19, Arizona Corporation (a utilities regulation body) Commissioner Sandra Kennedy (D) wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation asking for an investigation into Turning Point Action’s role in instigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection. [12] While TPA admits that it sent busses with 350 students to the pro-Trump Washington, D.C., protest, they deny any involvement in the attack on the Capitol. TPA has since threatened a lawsuit against Kennedy for defamation. [13]

Partners

Turning Point Action claims Freedom Works, Heritage Action for America, and America First Policies as partner organizations. TPA also still currently lists Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) as a partner[14] despite YAL executive director Jeff Frazee once sending an email to all staff members officially declaring an end to their partnership with TPUSA and encouraging all YAL chapters to be “cautious” about associating with the organization after TPUSA allegedly “unlawfully” obtained a list of YAL members and solicited them for TPUSA membership. YAL also sent a cease-and-desist letter to TPUSA. [15]

References

  1. “About TPUSA.” TPUSA. Accessed January 26, 2021. https://www.tpusa.com/about. ^
  2. Brown, Stephen Rex. “Students for Trump founder pleads guilty to posing as lawyer in $46K scam.” Daily News. August 6, 2019. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-students-for-trump-founder-guilty-20190806-uvtska53qrb33fq4u7jm6jkfmm-story.html. ^
  3. Holt, Jared. “Charlie Kirk’s New Political Group May Have Already Violated IRS Regulations.” Right Wing Watch. May 21, 2019. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/charlie-kirks-new-political-group-may-have-already-violated-irs-regulations/. ^
  4. Stanley-Becker, Isaac. “Facebook bans marketing firm running ‘troll farm’ for pro-Trump youth group.” Washington Post. October 10, 2020. Accessed January 27, 2021.    https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/08/facebook-bans-media-consultancy-running-troll-farm-pro-trump-youth-group/. ^
  5. “Turning Point Action: Independent Expenditure.” Open Secrets. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/turning-point-action/C90019597/independent-expenditures/2020. ^
  6. “Turning Point Action: Independent Expenditure.” Open Secrets. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/turning-point-action/C90019597/independent-expenditures/2020. ^
  7. “Turning Point Action: Independent Expenditure.” Open Secrets. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/turning-point-action/C90019597/independent-expenditures/2020. ^
  8. “Turning Point Action: Independent Expenditure.” Open Secrets. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/turning-point-action/C90019597/independent-expenditures/2020. ^
  9. “Endorsed Candidates.” Turning Point Action. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.tpaction.com/endorsements. ^
  10. Isaac, Stanley Becker. “Pro-Trump youth group enlists teens in secretive campaign likened to a ‘troll farm,’ promoting rebuke from Facebook and Twitter. May 21, 2020. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/turning-point-teens-disinformation-trump/2020/09/15/c84091ae-f20a-11ea-b796-2dd09962649c_story.html. ^
  11. Stanley-Becker, Isaac. “Facebook bans marketing firm running ‘troll farm’ for pro-Trump youth group.” Washington Post. October 10, 2020. Accessed January 27, 2021.    https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/08/facebook-bans-media-consultancy-running-troll-farm-pro-trump-youth-group/. ^
  12. “Dillon Rosenblatt.” Twitter. January 19, 2021. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://twitter.com/DillonReedRose/status/1351727254741475334. ^
  13. Hansen, Ronald J. “Turning Point USA threatens legal action against Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy.” AZ Central. January 26, 2021. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona/2021/01/26/turning-point-usa-threatens-legal-action-against-sandra-kennedy/4266057001/. ^
  14. “Partners.” Turning Point Action. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.tpaction.com/partners. ^
  15. “YAF Memo: Advising Our Students About TPUSA.” Young America’s Foundation. June 14, 2018. Accessed January 27, 2021. https://www.yaf.org/news/yaf-memo-advising-our-students-about-tpusa/. ^
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Turning Point Action


Phoenix, AZ