New Anti-Trump Group Helmed By Republicans Announced It Would Raise $50 Million To Encourage Lawmakers To Break With President Donald Trump.
Photo: President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One on Jan. 18, 2018, in Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
Photo Credit: Evan Vucci / AP
Published January 19, 2021
The Center for Responsive Politics [By Alyce McFadden]-
The Republican Accountability Project promises to use its cash to “ensure that ample resources are available for those principled Republicans who do the right thing and hold Trump accountable for inciting an attack on the U.S. Capitol.”
Behind the project is Defending Democracy Together, one of the top-spending “dark money” groups in the 2020 election cycle.
The campaign joins another never-Trump Republican group, super PAC The Lincoln Project, in its efforts to sway Republican who might otherwise hesitate to break from the president in order to avoid alienating Trump voters in their home states and districts.
The Republican Accountability Project’s website offers scant detail about how lawmakers will be selected to benefit from the campaign, but promises to back “credible primary challengers” against “Republican members of Congress who have enabled or capitulated to Trump and Trumpism.”
The group promised Republicans who voted to impeach would be provided with political protection against primary challenges from Trump loyalists. The president’s campaign has raised $200 Million since the election, which he could use against incumbent members of Congress who speak out against him.
Ten House Republicans voted to impeach Trump last Wednesday, making the vote the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history. The impeachment trial is expected to begin next week following the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The Lincoln Project released an ad Wednesday urging members of Congress to vote to both impeach and convict Trump of inciting insurrection. The organization also aired an ad in California urging staff employed by House Minority Leader (R-Calif.) to “quit en masse” following Trump supporters’ Jan 6. storming of the Capitol.
The Lincoln Project receives millions of dollars from dark money groups, 501(c)(4) nonprofits that are not required to disclose their funders. Defending Democracy Together is itself a 501(c)(4) organization that props up its affiliated super PACs with millions of dollars from undisclosed sources.
Both organizations are helmed by Republicans who broke from Trump at some point during his four-year term. Bill Kristol is the director of Defending Democracy Together and chairman of the board for the Republican Accountability Project. Kristol worked as an executive branch staffer during the administrations of both former Republican Presidents George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
Olivia Troye and Elizabeth Neumann, who both briefly worked in the Trump White House before breaking with the president in 2020, are co-directors of the project. Sarah Longwell, a Republican consultant and long-time Trump critic, is executive director of Defending Democracy Together and its newly-announced project.
Troye was a top aide to Vice President Pence and advised the administration on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic before leaving in July, accusing Trump of grievously mishandling the federal government’s response to the crisis. She appeared in several TV ads produced by Defending Democracy Together that aired before the election.
Despite the partisan affiliation of their leaders, the Lincoln Project and Defending Democracy Together are both funded largely by Democratic donors with deep pockets. In the run up to the 2020 election, The Lincoln Project took $1 Million from Gordon Getty and hundreds of thousands of dollars from other billionaire Democrats including John Pritzker of Geolo Capital, Jonathan Lavine of Bain Capital and Dreamworks Founder David Geffen.
In 2020, Republican Voters Against Trump, a super PAC organized and funded by Defending Democracy Together, received $500,000 each from Pritzker and Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City who spent $152 Million supporting Democratic candidates in the 2020 election cycle.