America First Policy Institute

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The America First Policy Institute (AFPI) is a Virginia-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in late 2020 by former Trump administration officials and launched in April 2021.[1] AFPI states on its website that "Our guiding principles are liberty, free enterprise, national greatness, American military superiority, foreign-policy engagement in the American interest, and the primacy of American workers, families, and communities in all we do."[2]

Bloomberg describes AFPI as an "administration-in-waiting" that "includes potential cabinet members, senior White House officials and even political appointees at federal agencies."[3]

Their areas of study include international affairs, the environment, healthcare, immigration, media bias, social issues and values, election integrity, criminal justice reform, censorship, Critical Race Theory, energy, security, the economy, international trade, and education.[4]

News and Controversies

AFPI Hosts Policy Summit

July 25-26, 2022, AFPI will be hosting its "Agenda Summit", which features former President Donal Trump as a keynote speaker on the second day. This will be Trump's first appearance in Washington D.C. since the conclusion of his presidency. The summit is invite-only, although the public can register for the livestream. The summit will focus on issues surrounding energy and gasoline prices, inflation, K-12 education and immigration along the southern border.[5]

Anticipated attendees and speakers:

  • Linda McMahon, former small business administrator
  • John Ratcliffe, former director of National Intelligence
  • Robert Lighthizer, former U.S. Trade Representative
  • Rick Perry, former Energy Secretary
  • Chad Wolf, former Homeland Security Secretary
  • Matt Whitaker, former acting attorney general
  • Robert Wilkie, former Veteran Affairs Secretary
  • David Bernhardt, former Secretary of Interior
  • Larry Kudlow, former director of the National Economic Council
  • Brooke Rollins, former director of the Domestic Policy Council
  • Kellyanne Conway, former White House senior adviser
  • Gen. Keith Kellogg, former national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence
  • Kevin Hassett, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
  • Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to national security adviser John Bolton
  • Scott Turner, former executive director of Trump's White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council
  • New Gingrich, former House Speaker
  • Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader
  • Steve Scalise, Minority Whip
  • Mike Braun, Indiana senator
  • Ted Cruz, Texas senator
  • Steve Daines, Montana senator
  • Joni Ernst, Iowa senator
  • Lindsey Graham, South Carolina senator
  • Bill Hagerty, Tennessee senator
  • Ron Johnson, Wisconsin senator
  • James Lankford, Oklahoma senator
  • Cynthia Lummis, Wyoming senator
  • Rick Scott, Florida senator
  • Phil Bryant, former Mississippi senator
  • Bobby Jindal, former Louisiana senator

AFPI Promises Legal Action against Baxter High School

Following the Iowa high school's introduction of an elective course called "Social Justice in Literature", AFPI wrote to the Baxter superintendent promising legal action if the course was not removed. AFPI claimed the class violated the "divisive concepts" law Governor Kim Reynolds signed in action in 2021. The elective course, which would only be taken by students who chose to sign up for it, also featured a flexible structure in which students could choose which social issues they studied and which materials they read. In AFPI's letter, they wrote, "Against this comprehensive statutory framework, the Baxter Community School District is running headlong into legally prohibited territory with its 'Social Justice in Literature' course. You are now on notice."[6]

AFPI Joins Forces with Dark Money Group

AFPI formed a working relationship with the 501(c)(4) partisan dark money group America First Works amid former president Donal Trump's vie for the 2024 presidency. CNBC reported that America First Works leader Ashley Hayek said America First Works was formed "as a new organization to work closely with AFPI" and as "an extension of AFPI, it is entirely focused on advancing policy at all levels of government, including to promote economic opportunity, school choice, affordable healthcare, foster care reform, election integrity, and criminal justice reform."[7]

AFPI Launches 'Center for Election Integrity'

AFPI launched its "Center for Election Integrity" on August 19, 2021. They disclosed in a press release that "CEI will work to amplify the importance of voter identification, require ballots to be returned by election day, stop the practice of ballot harvesting, ensure voter rolls are consistently cleaned and kept up to date, prohibit the privatization of elections, and litigate cases of voter fraud."[8] The group intends to target Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin for the direction of their efforts. The organization is chaired by former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.[9]

Launched "Constitutional Litigation Partnership"

In May 2021, the organization launched the Constitutional Litigation Partnership, which AFPI's President and CEO Brooke Rollins called "another strong addition to AFPI's already impressive arsenal of weapons against these assaults on our freedoms."[10] Brooke said the Constitutional Litigation Partnership was important because "Federalism, free speech, and the rule of law are under attack. Big tech, big media, and big government wield unprecedented power against the interests of the American way of life."[10]

Ties to ALEC

ALEC hosted an "academy" for state lawmakers in July 2021 that featured a legislative session on "securing absentee ballots" co-led by AFPI executive director Ken Blackwell.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Ties to the Council for National Policy

AFPI executive director Ken Blackwell chairs CNP Action, the political branch of the Council for National Policy. He facilitated an "Action Session" on combatting the national voting rights effort alongside Rep. Bryon Donalds (R-FL) and lawyer Cleta Mitchell. Blackwell also sat on a CNP panel called "Election Results and Legal Battles: What Now?" with Mitchell.[9]

Council for National Policy

The Council for National Policy (CNP) is a secretive, Christian Right organization of funders and activists founded in 1981 by activist Morton Blackwell, commentator Paul Weyrich, direct-mail pioneer Richard Viguerie, right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly and Left Behind author Tim LaHaye. Anne Nelson's book about CNP, Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, describes how the organization connects "the manpower and media of the Christian right with the finances of Western plutocrats and the strategy of right-wing Republican political operatives.”

CNP membership as of September 2020 is available here.


AFPI is not required to disclose its funders. Major funders, however, were found through a search of IRS filings. Here are the known funders:

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $23,618,246
  • Total Expenses: $22,348,233
  • Net Assets: $4,634,856


  • Total Revenue: $14,195,522
  • Total Expenses: $10,830,742
  • Net Assets: $3,364,843

Grants Distributed


As of July 2022:[13]


  • Linda McMahon, Chair of the Board, Center for the American Worker
  • Lawrence W. Kudlow, Vice Chair of the Board and Chairman, Center for American Prosperity
  • Brooke L. Rollins, President and CEO
  • Chad Wolf, Executive Director, Chief Strategy Officer & Chairman, Center for Homeland Security and Immigration
  • Doug Hoelscher, Chief Operating Officer
  • Nick Barbknecht, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Catharine Cypher, Chief of Staff, Constitutional Litigation Partnership and Advisor, Center for the American Child
  • Martin Gillespie, Chief Development Officer
  • Ashley Hayek, Chief Engagement Officer
  • Aaron Hedlund, Ph.D., Director of Research
  • Renee Hudson, Chief Government Affairs Officer
  • Marc Lotter, Chief Communications Officer
  • Rachael Slobodien, Senior Advisor & Director, Center for the American Worker
  • Steven M. Smith, Chief of Staff and Director, Center for New Frontiers
  • Jessica Hart Steinmann, General Counsel


(Not included above)

  • David Bernhardt, Chairman, Center for American Freedom
  • J. Kenneth Blackwell, Chairman, Center for Election Integrity
  • Pam Bondi, Chairman, Constitutional Litigation Partnership and co-Chair, Center for Law and Justice
  • Jack Brewer, Chairman, Center for Opportunity Now and Vice-Chair, Center for 1776
  • Kellyanne Conway, Chair, Center for the American Child
  • Fred Fleitz, Vice Chair, Center for American Security
  • Lou Holtz, Chair, Center for 1776
  • Bobby Jindal, Chair, Center for a Healthy America
  • Lt. General (Ret.) Keith Kellogg, co-Chair, Center for American Security
  • Dr. Alveda King, Chair, Center for the American Dream
  • Robert Lighthizer, Chair, Center for American Trade
  • Rick Perry, Chairman, Center for Energy Independence
  • John Ratcliffe, Co-Chairman, Center for American Security
  • Scott Turner, Chairman, Center for Education Opportunity
  • Paula White-Cain, Chairman, Center for the American Values
  • Andrew Wheeler, Chairman, Center for the Environment
  • Matthew Whitaker, co-Chair, Center for Law & Justice
  • Steve Yates, Senior Fellow and Chair, China Policy Initiative

Board of Academic Advisors

(Not included above)

  • Dr. Ge Bai
  • Dr. Richard Valentine Burkhauser
  • Dr. Jeffrey Campbell
  • Kevin Hassett, Chair
  • Dr. Casey Mulligan
  • Dr. Lee Ohanian
  • Dr. Kiron K. Skinner


(Not included above)

  • Jason Allen, Michigan Policy Advisor
  • James Baehr, Senior Fellow, Center for 1776
  • Lauren Baldwin, Policy Analyst, Center for American Values
  • Lea Bardon, Development Manager
  • Hilton Beckham, Senior Communications Manager
  • Madison Berube, Engagement Officer
  • Kweku Boafo, Director of Policy and Research, Center for Election Integrity
  • Beatrice Brooke, Policy Analyst, Center for American Prosperity and Center for Energy Independence
  • Phil Bryant, Senior Advisor
  • Samuel Buchan, Director, Center for Energy Independence
  • Alexandra Caro Campana, Director, Center for 1776
  • Josh Campbell, Attorney, Constitutional Litigation Partnership
  • James Carter, Director, Center for American Prosperity
  • Abigail Chance, Policy Analyst, Center for a Healthy America
  • Cale Clingenpeel, Visiting Fellow
  • Chad Connelly, Senior Advisor, Center for Election Integrity
  • Cate Crosbie, Development Specialist
  • Jerry C. Davis, Senior Advisor, Center for 1776
  • Abi Dills, Executive Assistant and Operations Coordinator
  • Kaelan Dorr, Senior Advisor for Communications
  • Anna Dove, Policy Analyst, Center for Election Integrity
  • Scott Erickson, Senior Fellow
  • Michael Faulkender, Visiting Fellow
  • Alec Ernst, Digital Deployment Manager
  • Michael Faulkender, Visiting Fellow
  • Fred Fleitz, Vice Chair, Center for American Security
  • Chase Forrester, Events Manager
  • Drake Franklin, Southeastern Development Director and Policy Analyst
  • Hogan Gidley, Director, Center for Election Integrity
  • Scott Glabe, Senior Fellow, Center for Homeland Security and Immigration
  • Garrison Grisedale, Policy Analyst, Center for Opportunity Now and Center for American Values
  • Troup Hemenway, Policy Analyst, Center for Homeland Security and Immigration and Center for Law and Justice
  • Davis Ingle, Communications Specialist
  • Rachel Jag, Associate Attorney, Constitutional Litigation Partnership
  • Lynn Johnson, Senior Advisor, Center for the American Child
  • Miles Johnson, Government Affairs Manager
  • Anjelica Jones, Social Media Manager
  • Jordan Kittleson, Western Regional Policy Director, Center for Election Integrity
  • Mary Katherine Lacroix, Senior Director of Development Operations
  • Joseph Lavorgna, Senior Fellow
  • Robert Law, Director, Center for Homeland Security and Immigration
  • Dr. Chris Leader, Chief Advisor, Center for the American Dream
  • Luke Lindberg, Senior Fellow, Center for American Prosperity
  • Jorge Martinez, Hispanic Outreach Strategist and Spanish Spokesperson
  • Gloria Mcdonald, Policy Analyst, Center for American Security
  • Ryann Mcenany, Digital Marketing and Brand Communications Strategist and Engagement Officer
  • Sam Mims, Director of Digital Production and Data
  • Ashley Mocarski, Senior Director for Development
  • Steve Moore, Senior Fellow
  • Sophia Morales, Communications Specialist
  • Cole Mushegan, Policy Analyst, Center for 1776
  • Jacob Olidort, Director, Center for American Security
  • Charlie O'Neal, Pennsylvania Policy Advisor
  • Joshua Orlaski, Policy Analyst, Center for the American Worker and Center for Education Opportunity
  • Heidi Overton, M.D., Director, Center for a Healthy America
  • Rob Pacienza, Senior Fellow, Center for the American Dream
  • Jase Panebianco, Law Clerk, Constitution Litigation Partnership
  • Preston Parry, Strategic Assistant to the President & CEO
  • Jonathan Pidluzny, PH.D., Director, Higher Education Reform Initiative
  • Javon Price, Policy Analyst, Center for Opportunity Now; Center for American Values; and Center for American Security
  • Andy Puzder, Senior Fellow
  • Andy Rosenblatt, Communications Specialist
  • Michael Rigas, Director, American Leadership Institute
  • Jacob Sagert, Policy Analyst, Center for American Freedom
  • Adam Savit Senior Policy Analyst, China Policy Initiative
  • Stacey Schieffelin, Senior Advisor, Center for the American Worker
  • James Sherk, Director, Center for American Freedom
  • Travis Shirkman, Director of Donor Relations
  • Cliff Sims, Senior Fellow, Center for American Security
  • Oliver McPherson-Smith, Senior Fellow, Center for Energy Independence
  • Steven M. Smith, Chief of Staff and Director, Center for New Frontiers
  • Katharine Sullivan, Senior Advisor, Constitutional Litigation Partnership
  • Julie Taylor, Director of Institutional Giving
  • Kyle Telan, Policy Analyst, China Policy Initiative
  • Dr. Laurie Todd-Smith, Director, Center for Education Opportunity
  • Scott Toland, Production Manager and Deputy General Counsel
  • Craig Trainor, Senior Litigation Counsel, Constitutional Litigation Partnership
  • Sam Trippie, Development Specialist
  • Thomas Tsaveras, Director of Operations
  • Mike Vallante, Senior Advisor, Center for Election Integrity
  • David Vazquez, Policy Analyst for the Center for American Prosperity, The Center for Energy Independence, and The Center for the Environment
  • Alexander Wilgocki, Policy Analyst, Center for 1776
  • Roberty Wilkie, Distinguished Fellow, Center for American Security
  • Gail Wilson, Engagement Officer
  • Bill Woolf, Senior Fellow
  • Mark Zelden, Senior Advisor, Center for American Values
  • Alex Zemek, Senior Fellow, Center for Homeland Security and Immigration
  • Kristen Ziccarelli, Policy Analyst

Former Employees

  • Juan Caro, Director of Youth Engagement and Policy Analyst, Center for Energy Independence
  • Rachel Craddock, Policy Analyst, Center for the American Worker and Center for Education Opportunity
  • Abigail Graham, Press Assistant
  • Brian Morgenstern, Senior Advisor
  • Ja’ron Smith, Chairman, Center for Second Chances
  • Katharine Sullivan, Director, Center for Election Integrity; Director, Center for Law and Justice
  • Emily Tubb, Policy Analyst
  • Kendall Johnson, Digital Media Producer
  • Bethany Kozma, Director, Center for American Values
  • Venetia Resciniti, Staff Assistant, Constitutional Litigation Partnership
  • Alexandra Smith, Digital Marketing Coordinator
  • Abigail Slagle, Policy Analyst, Center for a Healthy Mind
  • John A. Zadrozny, Director, Center for Homeland Security and Immigration

Board of Directors

As of December 2021:[12]

  • Linda McMahon, chair
  • Larry Kudlow, vice chair
  • Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House
  • Tim Dunn, Texas GOP donor and right-wing operative
  • Lisa Troutt
  • Bob Unanue

Former Directors

Contact Information

Employer Identification Number (EIN): 85-4202763
America First Policy Institute
1635 Rogers Road Building A
Fort Worth, Texas 76107

Articles and Resources

IRS Form 990 Filings



Application for Tax Exempt Status

1023 Application


2022 Agenda

Related SourceWatch


  1. Mike Allen, "Scoop: Trump alumni launch largest post-administration group", Axios, April 13, 2021, accessed May 22, 2021.
  2. America First Policy Institute, America First Policy Institute Home Page, "AFPI", accessed July 18, 2022.
  3. Mario Parker and Jennifer Jacobs, Trump Allies Line Up Shadow Government, Mindful of 2016’s Chaos, Bloomberg, July 15, 2022.
  4. America First Policy Institute, AFPI Priorities, "AFPI", accessed July 18, 2022.
  5. Alayna Treene, Scoop: Trump's Return to Washington, "Axios", July 14, 2022.
  6. Randy Evans, It's wrong to tell parents what their kids can read, "Storm Lake Times Pilot", June 24, 2022.
  7. Brian Schwartz, Trump-allied dark money group joins forces with a think tank run by ex-president's former aides, "CNBC", November 22, 2021.
  8. America First Policy Institute, America First Policy Institute Announces Major National Effort to Protect Voting Rights, "AFPI", August 19, 2021.
  9. 9.0 9.1 David Armiak, Trump Die-Hards Launch MAGA Voter Suppression Center, "Exposed by CMD", September 14, 2021.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Christian Datoc, "Exclusive: Top Trump allies begin legal effort to stop federal government 'assaults' on constitutional rights", Washington Examiner, May 14, 2021, accessed May 22, 2021.
  11. American First Policy Institute, 2022 IRS Form 990 Filing, organizational tax filing, November 16, 2023.
  12. 12.0 12.1 American First Policy Institute, 2021 IRS Form 990 Filing, organizational tax filing, November 10, 2022.
  13. America First Policy Institute, Team, America First Policy Institute, accessed March 10, 2022.