America First Works

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America First Works (AFW), is a 501(c)(4) rightwing advocacy group that was founded in 2017 under the name America First Policies. The group was established following former president Trump's 2016 election and rebranded to America First Works after he lost reelection in 2020. The nonprofit supports conservative policy and legislation initiatives and releases video content about issues they are involved in. It works closely with America First Policy Institute according to executive director Ashley Hayek. AFPI is legally obligated to be nonpartisan under its IRS tax code.[1]

Key issues AFW is engaged in include: voter suppression[2], school privatization,[3] suppressing LGBTQ awareness and activism[4] and restricting women's bodily autonomy.[5]

AFW also funnels money through the Koch political network's favorite donor conduit DonorsTrust and to rightwing allies like Heritage Action for America.[6]

News and Controversies

AFW condemns 'Respect for Marriage Act'

In December 2022, AFW executive director Ashley Hayek released a statement condemning the 'Respect for Marriage Act' on grounds of its violation of religious freedom. She said, "America was built on the idea of freedom of religion, but the unnecessary 'Respect for Marriage Act' threatens this fundamental protection. This is yet another egregious and deliberate attack on religious liberty by the radical Left... When Churches, organizations, and individuals are charged with violating the law for practicing their religion, remember the 12 'conservative' Senators who voted to deny Americans their First Amendment, God-given, rights."[7]

However, her statement was misinformed, as the "Respect for Marriage Act" does not compel states (or churches) to marry same-sex couples. It merely provides federal and out of state recognition of existing marriage licenses for same-sex and interracial couples.[8]

AFW's Anti-Disney Platform

AFW has released a melange of content attacking Disney administration's "extremist wokeism" in the workplace.[9] They specifically attacked the company for its stance against the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, which would prohibit the discussion of sexuality and gender identity in classrooms.[10] They also criticized Disney for including LGBTQ characters in their films, while still calling them out for distributing in North Africa and the Middle East where they "do not allow such content and ban homosexuality".[11]

Ties to ALEC

In December 2022, AFW endorsed ALEC's model "Eliminate Political Boycotts Act", which would "authorize state governments to scrutinize corporate speech for any 'evidence' that a company is taking into account environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors-- along with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-- in its business practices," CMD reports. The model bill would apply to businesses in dealing with fossil fuels, logging, mining, or agriculture, although legislatures are suggested to "insert additional industries if needed", CMD reports.[12]

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 ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our ExposedbyCMD.org site.

Grants Distributed

2021

No grants distributed.

2020

[13]

  • 2020 Jacksonville Host Committee: $500,000
  • America First Action: $20,305,000
  • American Action Forum: $600,000
  • Be Counted: $2,000,000
  • BLEXIT Foundation: $350,000
  • Center for Campaign Innovation: $35,000
  • CLT Host 2020: $2,000,000
  • Convention of States Action: $250,000
  • DonorsTrust: $4,795,000
  • Florida First: $1,572,000
  • Heritage Action for America: $994,000
  • LCR, Inc: $1,100,000
  • Moms for America: $100,000
  • North Carolina First: $1,096,000
  • Pennsylvania First: $1,052,000
  • Soldier Strong Access: $100,000
  • The New American Populist: $1,035,000
  • Vision America Mobilized: $500,000

2019

[14]

  • Florida First: $1,510,000
  • Free Market America: $125,000
  • North Carolina First: $325,000
  • Pennsylvania First: $450,000
  • Women for America First: $25,000

2018

[15]

2017

No grants distributed.

Funding

America First Works is not required to disclose its funders but major supporters can be found through their IRS filings. Here are some known contributors:

  • American Financial Services Association: $125,000 (2017)
  • CLA, Inc.: $1,000,0000 (2018)
  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $2,500,000 (2017)
  • QXZ, Inc.: $100,000 (2018)

Core Financials

2021[16]

  • Total Revenue: $140,905
  • Total Expenses: $5,650
  • Net Assets: $135,255

2020[13]

  • Total Revenue: $51,301,820
  • Total Expenses: $66,234,305
  • Net Assets: $7,681,374

2019[14]

  • Total Revenue: $30,895,344
  • Total Expenses: $14,235,607
  • Net Assets: $22,613,859

2018[15]

  • Total Revenue: $15,601,413
  • Total Expenses: $17,686,493
  • Net Assets: $$5,853,625

2017[17]

  • Total Revenue: $22,167,500
  • Total Expenses: $14,228,795
  • Net Assets: $7,938,705

Personnel

Staff

As of November 2021:[13]

  • Ashley Hayek, Executive Director
  • Nathan Klein, Director of Programs
  • Kelly Sadler, Director of Communications
  • Pradeep Belur, Senior Advisor
  • John Britten, Digital Director
  • Leigh Ann Wood Gillis, Director of Development
  • Vincent Fedorko, Grassroots Coordinator

Board of Directors

As of November 2021:[13]

  • Brian O. Walsh, President
  • Jonathan T. Proch, Secretary and Treasurer
  • Linda E. McMahon, Chair

Contact Information

Employer Identification Number (EIN): 81-5137380

America First Works, Inc.
1900 Campus Commons Dr. #100
Reston, VA 20191

Articles and Resources

IRS 990 Filings

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

References

  1. Brian Schwartz, Trump-allied dark money group joins forces with a think tank run by ex-president's former aides, CNBC, November 22, 2021.
  2. AFW, America First Works Launches Legislators Pledge to Protect our Elections, America First Works, May 19, 2022.
  3. America First Works, America First Works Celebrates Arizona's Empowerment Scholarship Account as a School Choice Victory, Organizational Website, July 7, 2022.
  4. Ashley Hayek, Statement from Ashley Hayek, America First Works Executive Director, America First Works, December 13, 2022.
  5. Brooke L. Rollins, Statement from Brooke L. Rollins, Senior Advisor to America First Works, on the Radical Left's Abortion Extremism, America First Works, September 21, 2022.
  6. Carrie Levine, Pro-Trump nonprofit gives millions to groups boosting his agenda, The Center for Public Integrity, November 20, 2021.
  7. Ashley Hayek, Statement from Ashley Hayek, America First Works Executive Direcotr, America First Works, December 13, 2022.
  8. Kate S. Petersen, Fact check: Respect for Marriage Act explicitly protects religious tax-exempt status, USA Today, December 6, 2022.
  9. AFW, Walt Disney Company's 'Woke' Management Creating Hostile Work Environment, America First Works, July 11, 2022.
  10. Florida House of Representatives, Parental Rights in Education, Florida House of Representatives, accessed January 10, 2023.
  11. AFW, Disney to Market in 10 Countries that Ban the Same Sexual Content it is Pushing in America, America First Works, June 22, 2022.
  12. David Armiak, ALEC Doubles Down on Punishing ESG Firms, Exposed by CMD, December 9, 2022.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 America First Works, IRS 990 2020, America First Works, November 15, 2021.
  14. 14.0 14.1 America First Policies, IRS 990 2019, America First Policies, November 16, 2020.
  15. 15.0 15.1 America First Policies, IRS 990 2018, America First Policies, November 15, 2019.
  16. America First Works, IRS 990 2021, America First Works, October 26, 2022.
  17. America First Policies, IRS 990 2017, America First Policies, November 15, 2018.