The Washington Post scrapes up a little more information on what the pro-Trump, sedition-backing conspiracy funnel Ginni Thomas has been up in the past few years. It looks like one of her side projects, when she wasn't Actively Conspiring To Overthrow The United States Government, was a new group called "Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty."
As the name already suggests, if you're familiar with far-right conspiracy groups, it is (or was?) a new group devoted to waging "a cultural battle against the left," as the Post puts it. The "Crowdsourcers" part appears to be either a nod to the project's astroturfy roots or a hint that the group would focus on the sort of "crowdsourced" hate attacks on random not-conservative Americans that individual online accounts like "Libs of TikTok" have made new careers out of.
We might never know the details. The Post's scoop is that this new Thomas-led group had nearly $600,000 funneled to it between 2019-2022 from anonymous conservative donors. It was funneled through conservative think tank Capital Research Center, which agreed to temporarily host the new similarly aligned group during its startup phase. That's not an uncommon relationship among these sort of think tanks and ideological groups, notes the Post, but what that really means is that no matter how many of these ratty little things pop up, it's almost always the same conservative donors, lobbyists, and activists behind all of them.
Sharing office space makes sense when almost every new astroturf group is headed up by the same groups of professional astroturfers. Why commute through horrible Washington, D.C.-area traffic when you can just walk down the hall?
Based on Ginni Thomas' own promotion of the group, some of the captains of conservatism purported to be involved in the group's launch included coup-linked Trump White House lawyer Cleta Mitchell, disgraced propaganda producer James O'Keefe, and conservative propaganda pioneer Richard Viguerie, the man who invented direct-mail shitposting long before the internet version existed. But it also sounds like Thomas was perhaps fibbing about all of their involvement, given that Mitchell denied it and the other two refused to talk.
Other names the Post was able to dig up: aspirational fascist Charlie Kirk; a Breitbart News executive; and Allen Freaking West. See, this is what I mean: All of these little groups are just new combinations of the same hundred or so conspiracy-riddled far-right cranks, all propped up by the same handful of ultra-rich donors, all self-promoting each other's efforts all the time in one big [extremely redacted pornographic scene involving every conservative figure you know].
I suspect this is also why conservatives can so rapidly coalesce around similar or identical talking points whenever anything happens in the news, ever. There's like a hundred people in the whole damn movement, at least when it comes to top leadership positions, and every last damn one of them knows everyone else's phone number. We saw that during the Trump coup attempt, too; if there's anyone in the whole conservative movement who did not have White House chief of staff Mark Meadows' personal text number, it would seem a surprise.
As for what happened to "Crowdsourcers," which from Ginni Thomas' description is or was a 100% paranoia-based outfit modeled after the folds of Thomas' own conspiracy-pushing brain, referencing "cultural Marxism" and an "oppressed" conservative "minority," it doesn't sound like even the Post was able to suss it out. It may still exist, but be dormant. It may have petered out after the initial cash infusion. And if Ginni Thomas was herself paid anything from those funds, she and her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, never disclosed it.
It doesn't particularly matter. Whether Thomas mounts her pro-sedition campaigns under one name or another is a footnote. It's the same small set of far-right funders that push these things into being; they're headed by the same attention-seeking brothers and staffed up with the same crowd of increasingly fascist-minded Conservative Political Action Conference attendees. If we never hear the name "Crowdsourcers" again, it'll just mean that the push to blame all of America's ills on democracy and "cultural Marxism" and too much tolerance these days will instead have been branded under something different.
Crowdsourcers, though. That certainly sounds like it was meant to be a Libs of TikTok-styled campaign targeting individual Americans for public demonization. Definitely a fascist turn your neighbors in vibe on that one.
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It's just barely springtime in an off year, but there's been loads of election news lately, so co-hosts David Nir and David Beard have a super-sized roundup on this week's episode of The Downballot. The Davids recap the first round of voting in the race for Jacksonville mayor (which saw Democrats do unusually well) and the collapse of an effort to recall New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell before turning to big batch of 2024 updates.
On tap for the Senate: The GOP's desperate effort to compete with Democratic fundraising enthusiasm by recruiting self-funders; why Republicans are afraid the guy who succeeded John Boehner in Congress will try to challenge Sherrod Brown; and how Democrats' plans to clear the field in Michigan may not succeed. Plus developments in the battle for New Hampshire's governorship, a key House seat in Wisconsin, and the saga of Tennessee's answer to George Santos.