Students for Trump

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Students For Trump
ChairmanCharlie Kirk
Co-ChairmanRyan Fournier
HeadquartersPhoenix, Arizona
Mother partyRepublican Party
Websitetrumpstudents.org

Students for Trump (S4T) is an American youth group whose mission is to reelect President Donald Trump. The group was founded in 2015 by two college students, Ryan Fournier and John Lambert. In July 2019, Charlie Kirk, CEO of Turning Point USA, became chairman of Students for Trump, with the goal of recruiting one million students at colleges across the US.[1] Kirk sees Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona as places for targeted student engagement, and added that it is important to have "'aggressive, conservative Republican political outreach' to students." He added that Students for Trump "has a budget of $15 million, 150 staffers and a presence on more than 1,400 college campuses due to its affiliation with Turning Point Action" an unregistered political action committee formed in May 2019.[2] According to its own literature "Students for Trump sets out to build the largest candidate-focused chapter program in the nation with a primary goal of reaching Division I universities."[3]

Charlie Kirk, the group's chairman since July 2019

History[edit]

Students for Trump was founded in 2015 by Ryan Fournier and John Lambert, students at Campbell University in North Carolina, United States, who started tweeting positive information about Donald Trump.[4] The Houston Chronicle reported that George Lombardi,[5] a New York City real estate developer and friend of Donald Trump acted as an advisor. Fournier's first television appearance for the organization was on TBS.[6] Students for Trump activities were highlighted in a BBC documentary, "Trump's Unlikely Superfans,"[7] and an NBC News exclusive titled "Students for Trump: Meet the Millennials Who Want Him to Win."[8] In 2016, the organization switched from a traditional campaign model with Regional, State, and Chapter coordinators, to a model with Campus Ambassadors that perform roles similar to that of a campaign field intern. In August 2016, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the organization "had nearly 300 campus chapters and a bevy of social-media followers — 29,000 on Twitter, 59,000 on Instagram, thousands more on Facebook."[9]

The campaign however, had numerous problems before and after the election. In April 2016, a Students for Trump Florida chapter placed a "Make America Great Again" ball cap on a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. just days after the anniversary of his death. This caused social media attacks towards the organization.[10] The same month, John Lambert was arrested in Tennessee on federal charges of wire fraud,[11][12] posing online as a high-powered New York lawyer."[13] Lambert invented a law firm Pope and Dunn online, listing the fake Eric Pope as a lawyer who attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate and New York University's law school. According to court documents, Lambert bilked tens of thousands of dollars "from unwitting clients seeking legal services."[11] Lambert has not been involved with Students for Trump since leaving in early 2016,[14] and faces prison time and the forfeiture of over $46,000 after pleading guilty in federal court.[15][16]

Salon magazine reported that Ryan Fournier worked with white nationalists when he was head of Students for Trump.[17] Media Matters said that Fournier hired white nationalist James Allsup as director of the Campus Ambassador Program. Allsup was a member of the American Identity Movement and marched at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.[18][19]

James Allsup on air

By March 2017, The College Fix reported that the organization's chapters had "largely disbanded or halted meetings."[20] In February 2018, The Daily Beast reported that Students for Trump had never correctly complied with making reports to the Federal Election Commission as a political action committee.[21] However, founder Ryan Fournier was invited to the White House in July 2019 to discuss liberal bias in social media.[22]

By February 2018, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) had written nine letters to Students for Trump requesting information about donors, but the organization declined to respond. However, the FEC has taken no action other than to warn the political action committee.[23]

On July 2, 2019 Charlie Kirk reported that Turning Point Action, a newly formed 501(c)(4) organization had acquired Students for Trump along with "all associated media assets."[24] Kirk is the founder and CEO of Turning Point USA and Turning Point Action, and the creator of the Professor Watchlist. Turning Point Action is a political action committee created in May 2019 to target Democrats, including Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. [25] Right Wing Watch has alleged that Turning Point USA used staff and resources for political action against Omar that would be considered a violation of US tax codes;[26] this was not the first time that Turning Point USA, a 501(c)(3) organization, was accused of tax code violations. [27] TPUSA has also been accused of using illegal means to influence student body elections. [28][29][30]

Ryan Fournier, co-founder[edit]

The group's founder, Ryan Fournier

The organization's co-founder, Ryan Fournier, is from Long Branch, NJ.[31] Fournier became politically active following his volunteer work for the Mitt Romney 2012 presidential campaign.[32] Prior to launching Students for Trump, Fournier was involved in various local and state political campaigns within North Carolina.[33] Along with being the Co-Chairman of Students for Trump, Fournier also serves as the President of OpenPoll and xStrategies.[34]

In 2015, Fournier and John Lambert launched Students for Trump as a Twitter account while they were studying at Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC.[35] Fournier graduated from Campbell University in May 2019 with a degree in Political Science.[36] He is also a member of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity, Zeta Psi chapter.[37][38]

Fournier was awarded Newsmax's 30 Under 30 Award in 2017 [39] and 2018.[40] He is also a recipient of the Red Alert Politics 30 Under 30 Award.[41]

In July 2018, Fournier launched a boycott against Walmart for selling shirts labeled "Impeach 45," which resulted in the hashtag #BoycottWalmart trending on Twitter.[42] Walmart pulled the items from its online store, issuing the following statement: "These items were sold by third-party sellers on our open marketplace, and were not offered directly by Walmart. We’re removing these types of items pending review of our marketplace policies."[43]

In April 2019, John Lambert, the co-founder of Students for Trump and friend of Fournier's was arrested and charged with wire fraud and conspiracy for allegedly taking upward of $16,000 under false pretenses, while pretending to be an attorney.[44]

In July 2019, Fournier was labeled 'Creep of the Week' by Between the Lines after he attacked Elizabeth Warren for her usage of gender pronouns within her Twitter biography.[45]

Projects[edit]

The Chalkening[edit]

In March and April 2016, college students at universities across the United States used chalk to write slogans in support of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The event was publicized on Twitter by Dan Scavino, director of social media for Donald Trump, and the Students for Trump official account.[46] The event, and ensuing student reaction, led to DePaul University to ban the use of chalk on campus property.[47]

"Trump Wall" events[edit]

On May 9, 2016, a group of students at the University of Washington constructed an 8'x10' "Trump Wall" out of plywood and lumber in the center of the Red Square courtyard. The event, led by UW College Republicans president Jessie Gamble, UW Students for Trump president Chevy Swanson, and S4T senior advisor James Allsup, lasted for an approximately an hour and a half, and was met with ten Trump supporters and over 100 protestors.[48]The wall was painted with a brick design, with "Trump Wall" written in gold paint, and "Blues Lives Matter" and "Make America Great Again" written in blue. At one point, a student attempted to scale the wall. Shortly after this, the organizers were asked by the University Police to take the wall down, which they did.[49] Portland State University Students for Trump, a group unaffiliated with the S4T national organization, hosted a similar event on June 10, 2016.[50] The wall was smaller at this event, and beforehand organizers announced on Facebook that "Mexico and Black Lives Matter are going to need help paying for the wall so we'll be holding a collection."[51]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Creitz, Charles (July 2, 2019). "Charlie Kirk says 'Students for Trump' initiative will combat Dems' plans to rebuild 'Obama coalition'". Fox News. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  3. ^ "Students for Trump (About)". Students for Trump. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  4. ^ Glum, Julia (December 1, 2015). "Students For Trump: Meet The Millennials Helping The Donald Nab The Youth Vote". International Business Times. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  5. ^ Vinocur, Nicholas (December 5, 2016). "Donald Trump's European fixer … is his neighbor". Politico. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  6. ^ Baddour, Dylan (March 25, 2016). "Trump's teen fans take grass-roots campaign online". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  7. ^ Field, Chloe (January 20, 2017). "Student Gets First-Person View of Trump's Inauguration". College of Charleston. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  8. ^ "Students for Trump: Meet the Millennials Who Want Him to Win". NBC News. March 15, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  9. ^ Brown, Sarah (August 2, 2016). "Meet the Young Republicans Who Founded 'Students for Trump'". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  10. ^ Silverstein, Jason (April 11, 2016). "'Students for Trump' group posts photo of Martin Luther King statue wearing 'Make America Great Again' hat on University of South Florida campus". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Schreckinger, Ben (May 9, 2019). "He Founded 'Students for Trump.' Now He Could Face Jail Time for Impersonating a Lawyer". Politico. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
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  13. ^ Newsham, Jack (April 17, 2019). "Feds Bust Phony Lawyer Whose Website Cribbed From Cravath". New York Law Journal. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  14. ^ "Recent Activity Concerning Former Executive Board Member". Students For Trump. Retrieved May 18, 2019.[dead link]
  15. ^ Saul, Emily (August 6, 2019). "'Students for Trump' co-founder pleads guilty to wire fraud in Manhattan". New York Post. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
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  25. ^ Schwartz, Brian (May 20, 2019). "Pro-Trump college GOP activist Charlie Kirk will launch a new group to target Democrats in 2020". CNBC. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  26. ^ Holt, Jared (May 21, 2019). "Charlie Kirk's New Political Group May Have Already Violated IRS Regulations". Right Wing Watch.org. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  27. ^ Mayer, Jane (December 21, 2017). "A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  28. ^ Mayer, Jane. "A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity". /www.newyorker.com. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  29. ^ Roll, Nick. "Leaked documents, audio: Conservative Turning Point USA quietly funding student government campaigns across US". www.thelantern.com. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  30. ^ Vasquez, Michael. "A Student Leader Resigns at Texas State After Being Accused of Taking Money From Turning Point USA". www.chronicle.com. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  31. ^ Katz, Celeste (June 2, 2016). "Meet the 20-Year-Old Mastermind Behind Students For Trump". Yahoo. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
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  34. ^ "Ryan Fournier". Official Website of Ryan Fournier. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
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  36. ^ Fournier, Ryan. "Fournier Graduation Photo". Instagram. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  37. ^ "List of Kappa Alpha Order members". Wikipedia. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  38. ^ Buswell, Brent. "Fournier Named to Red Alert Politics 30 under 30". Kappa Alpha Order Journal.
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  40. ^ Krausz, Jen. "Newsmax's 30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30". Newsmax. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
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  42. ^ Stump, Scott. "Walmart selling 'Impeach 45' apparel sparks online outrage, calls for boycott". Today. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  43. ^ Stump, Scott. "Walmart selling 'Impeach 45' apparel sparks online outrage, calls for boycott". Today. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  44. ^ Newsham, Jack. "Feds Bust Phony Lawyer Whose Website Cribbed From Cravath". Law.com.
  45. ^ Witkowski, D'Anne. "Creep of the Week: Ryan Fournier". PrideSource. Between The Lines.
  46. ^ Tesfaye, Sophia (April 11, 2016). "Trump's Call for College Supporters to Express Themselves With Chalk Leaves Campuses Full of Racist Messages". AlterNet. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  47. ^ Riddell, Kelly (April 15, 2016). "DePaul U. bans use of chalk on sidewalks after pro-Trump messages offend". The Washington Times. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  48. ^ "The UW Trump Movement Is a Perfect Microcosm of the Donald's Ridiculous Campaign". Seattle Weekly. May 20, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  49. ^ Long, Katherine (May 9, 2016). "College students erect 'Trump wall' at University of Washington". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  50. ^ "PSU 'Students for Donald Trump' group builds wall at rally". KATU. June 10, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  51. ^ Gupta, Arun (June 17, 2016). "Meet the shock troops of Trump's America". The Raw Story. Retrieved July 21, 2016.