Other Group

The Rockbridge Network

Founded:

2021

Founder:

Christopher Buskirk

The Rockbridge Network is a coalition of Republican donors founded by Christopher Buskirk, the editor of American Greatness. [1] The coalition of donors is reported to include technology entrepreneur Peter Thiel and conservative activist Rebekah Mercer. [2]

The Rockbridge Network expressed plans to spend $30 million on conservative media, litigation, policy advocacy, voter registration projects, and other initiatives for the 2022 election cycle. The organization is also focused on flipping the battleground states of Arizona, Michigan, and Nevada into solidly Republican states. [3]

Former President Donald Trump reportedly addressed a Rockbridge Network summit in April 2022. [4]

Background

The Rockbridge Network is a coalition of conservative donors that says it wants to “disrupt but advance the Republican agenda” by working outside the regular party structure to raise money for candidates and causes. [5]

Christopher Buskirk, the editor and publisher of the online publication American Greatness, founded the Rockbridge Network. [6]

The coalition of donors is reported to include Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel and data analytics heiress Rebekah Mercer, two major Republican Party donors. [7]

The network seeks to help the right become more competitive with the left on so-called “dark money.” A Rockbridge Network brochure stated, “We need to show our side is organized and has the necessary institutional know-how and financial support, in order to have any shot at winning future elections.” [8]

Summits

In 2021, the Rockbridge Network held its first meeting in Arizona, one of its target states to make more solidly Republican. [9] Republican donor and activist Peter Thiel spoke at the initial summit. [10]

The alliance of donors gathered at a private summit in South Florida in the spring of 2022. The summit included a closed-door address from former President Donald Trump as well as several Republican U.S. Senate candidates at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, according to the New York Times. [11]

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, was also set to speak at a Rockbridge Network event in April, the Times reported. [12]

Spending Priorities

A promotional brochure described the Rockbridge Network as “a kind of political venture capital firm” that will “leverage our investors’ capital with the right political expertise” to “replace the current Republican ecosystem of think tanks, media organizations, and activist groups that have contributed to the Party’s decline with better action-oriented, more effective people and institutions that are focused on winning.” [13]

The Rockbridge Network declared that it would spend $30 million on conservative media, litigation, policy advocacy, voter registration projects, and other initiatives. [14]

Of that $30 million, the Rockbridge Network’s brochure says the organization will devote $8 million for media ventures that it says includes, “public relations and messaging, a rapid response communications team for conservative activists and leaders, funding of polling, sponsorship of area-specific coverage and influencer programs, investigative journalism, documentaries, and other projects for cultural influence and renewal.” [15]

The Rockbridge Network’s “red state project” will initially focus on flipping the battleground states of Arizona, Michigan, and Nevada to safe conservative states, spending $6 million to $8 million per state. The group plans to extend the strategy to other states. Left-leaning organizations have engaged in similar strategies to attempt to flip battleground states—and in some cases Republican-aligned states—into Democratic-leaning states. [16]

Organizers said they tested voter registration initiatives in Arizona in 2021. [17]

The network plans to spend $3.75 million to finance a “lawfare and strategic litigation” effort to use the courts “to hold bad actors, including the media, accountable.” [18]

The coalition intends to use another $3 million to pay for a “transition project,” to assemble policy experts for a “government-in-waiting” to “staff the next Republican administration.” [19]

References

  1. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  2. Chapman, Matthew. “Trump Donors Funding Secretive ‘Government-in-Waiting’ to Staff Next GOP White House: Report.” Raw Story. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.rawstory.com/trump-donors-2657110902/ ^
  3. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  4. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  5. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  6. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  7. Chapman, Matthew. “Trump Donors Funding Secretive ‘Government-in-Waiting’ to Staff Next GOP White House: Report.” Raw Story. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.rawstory.com/trump-donors-2657110902/ ^
  8. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  9. Leingang, Rachel and Stephenson, Hank. “The Daily Agenda: If You Wanna Make Laws, Join the Legislature.” Tucson Weekly. Apr 7, 2022. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2022/04/07/the-daily-agenda-if-you-wanna-make-laws-join-the-legislature ^
  10. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  11. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  12. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  13. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  14. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022.  https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  15. [1] Kelly, Makena. “Secret Republican group budgets millions for media and influencer programs.” The Verge. April 7, 2022. Accessed April 14, 2022. https://www.theverge.com/2022/4/7/23015307/rockbridge-network-peter-thiel-donald-trump-influencers-turning-point-usa ^
  16.  Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  17. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022.  https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  18.  Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
  19. Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldmacher, Shane and Mac, Ryan. “Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy Republican Donors Form Secret Coalitions.” The New York Times. April 6, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022.  https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/politics/republican-donors-rockbridge-network-trump.html ^
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