“Women For Trump” PAC Co-Founder Warned Of Late FEC Filing
Last Tuesday, President Trump tweeted about a “Women for Trump co-chair.” Trump was referring to the Trump campaign’s Women for Trump coalition, and Dr. Gina Loudon, co-chair of the coalition’s Advisory Board.
In July of last year, the Trump campaign announced that his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, would launch the Women for Trump coalition, a “national effort to mobilize and empower women who support President Trump.”
The co-founder and chairwoman of a separate project, also called Women for Trump, has been warned by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) about a missed filing by her political action committee (PAC) that runs the project, Rantt Media has discovered.
Amy Kremer is chairwoman of Women for Trump, a project she co-founded in 2016. Kremer’s Women for Trump project is separate from and unaffiliated with the Trump campaign. Kremer is not listed among the 37 Advisory Board members of the Trump campaign’s Women for Trump coalition. Kremer is formerly a founding member of the Tea Party movement.
Kremer’s Women for Trump website (URL womenfortrump-dot-com) says it’s “The Official Home for Women Who Support President Trump.” A disclosure on Kremer’s Women for Trump site says: “Paid for and authorized by Women For Trump, a project of Women Vote Smart.”
Women Vote Smart is a PAC that Kremer co-founded in 2016.
On May 1, the FEC issued a letter to Kremer, in her capacity as Treasurer of the Women Vote Smart PAC, warning of “Notice of Failure to File.” The letter informs Kremer that the PAC has not filed a quarterly report for January through March of this year, and that “the failure to timely file this report may result in civil money penalties, suspension of matching funds payments, an audit or legal enforcement action.”
A spokesperson for the FEC confirmed to Rantt Media that the Women Vote Smart PAC has not yet responded to the Commission’s May 1 notice. He said that the FEC’s Administrative Fine Program assesses money penalties for late or non-filed reports. “If the Commission finds that a committee failed to file on time, the FEC will notify that committee of the finding and the penalty amount.” As of this writing, no fine has been assessed to Women Vote Smart.
In June 2018, Kremer appeared on Fox & Friends, describing how she faced criticism and death threats after voicing her support of Trump’s immigration and family separation policies in an appearance CNN.
Fox host Ainsley Earhardt and Kremer singled out White House reporter April Ryan, among Kremer’s fiercest critics. Ryan is a White House correspondent who happens to be a black woman. Trump was apparently watching the segment and tweeted his support at Kremer.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2018
When Earhardt asked Kremer what made people so angry at her, Kremer defended Trump’s immigration policies and said of her critics, “They need a little more God, and a little less politics.”
(In 2018, I wrote for Rantt Media about Trump’s immigration policies, reporting how a child died on Christmas Eve while in government custody, seeking asylum with his father.)
Kremer has made a number of appearances on CNN. In September 2018, she appeared on OutFront, defending Brett Kavanaugh, then-nominee for a U.S. Supreme Court seat. Kavanaugh was facing allegations of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
The following month, Kremer’s Women for Trump project held a “Women for America First Summit” at Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. Fox & Friends covered the event, which took place the same week that Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by Congress.
Kremer’s Women for Trump site shows a fundraising page that highlights the summit and notes:
“Not only did we get to meet Lara Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Katrina Pierson, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Sebastian Gorka, Greg Jarrett, Sara Carter and many more at our conference, but many attendees even went to the Capitol to support those who were voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.”
Kremer told Fox that women were gathering at the summit to talk about “why Donald Trump’s America First agenda is an agenda for women and all Americans. We have an amazing lineup. We heard from Sarah Sanders.” Then-White House Press Secretary Sanders told Fox, “This is a president who believes in strong, powerful women.”
Fox reported that more than 100 women attended the event.
Kremer’s Women for Trump website solicits donations for her Women Vote Smart PAC. The primary donation page on Kremer’s Women for Trump site asks visitors to mail donations to “Women Vote Trump,” the original name of her Women Vote Smart PAC.
At the start of this month, Women for America First organized at least 50 protests across the country against stay-at-home orders. Called the “MAGA May Day Rally for Freedom,” Kremer’s nonprofit group organized protests to take place on May 1st in cities that included coronavirus hot spots like New York City and Los Angeles. As ABC News reported:
“While the group maintains the protests will be ‘drive-in’ rallies, organizer and Women for America First chairwoman Amy Kremer tells ABC News she ‘can’t control what people do’ when asked about protesters potentially violating social distancing guidelines at the gatherings.”
The organizing website for MAGA May Day is also used to solicit donations.
Kremer was one of the founders of the Tea Party movement. She rose to become chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, a PAC called “the largest money-spinning group” within the movement in a profile of Kremer by The Guardian in 2010.
In 2016, Kremer co-founded the pro-Trump Great America super PAC (originally named TrumPAC, it was also required to change its name) with Bill Doddridge, founder of diamond retailer The Jewelry Exchange.
Kremer resigned from the Great America PAC in 2016, amidst turmoil.
The New York Times reported that Kremer quit the Great America PAC “because numerous decisions were made without her involvement.”
The Great America super PAC was $1 million in debt at the time of Kremer’s resignation, and the group had received a letter from the Trump campaign disavowing its efforts. But it continued to try to raise money, according to The Times.
And Politico reported: “Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone has warned donors to ‘beware’ of Great America PAC, branding it a ‘scam,’” (linking to a tweet that has been deleted, along with Stone’s banned Twitter account). A former adviser to Trump, Stone was convicted last year on seven felony counts related to obstructing Congress’s investigation of the president.
Soon after leaving the Great America PAC, Kremer co-founded the Women Vote Trump PAC with a goal of raising $30 million. One of her co-founders was Ann Stone, an ex-wife of Roger Stone.
At the time of the Women Vote Trump PAC launch, Ann Stone told the Associated Press “that she also has a friendship with Trump’s chief campaign strategist, Paul Manafort, dating back to the 1970s.” Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was convicted in 2018 on eight counts related to financial fraud.
In 2017, the Women Vote Trump PAC was “nearly $20,000 in debt” and had only raised $26,813 toward its $30 million goal, according to a CNN KFile report (which also reported the PAC’s name change to Women Vote Smart). As Kremer told CNN’s KFile:
“We had commitments from people and then people didn’t come through,” Kremer told CNN’s KFile in an interview. “A lot people didn’t raise any money, it was bizarre campaign season, and every time you turn around and thought you were gonna get some money every other day something would happen.”
In January last year, Trump gave Kremer and her Women for Trump project another tweet boost, for which the group thanked him on Twitter. But last week, Trump’s tweet shifted to amplify the campaign’s own Women for Trump coalition.
The Women’s March, which took place the day after Trump’s inauguration, had three times as many people in attendance in the U.S. as the inauguration itself, according to a crowd scientist.
In 2020, Trump still has good reason to be worried about women voters.Looking to make a difference? Consider signing one of these sponsored petitions:
A CNN / SSRS poll released last week shows that presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, holds a significant lead among women voters nationwide, by a 55% to 41% margin.
Last week, lawyers for Trump filed a court brief in New York State to defend the president from accusations of sexual assault. The Washington Post reported:
“The filing in New York was also a pointed reminder that Trump continues to quietly battle two women in court who allege he sexually assaulted them, fighting their efforts to obtain testimony and documents that could shed light on their accusations. The women, Summer Zervos and E. Jean Carroll, are among more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of unwanted physical contact in the years before he was elected.”
At least 25 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct since the 1970s. Trump has repeatedly denied the accusations, denouncing his accusers as “liars.”
The Independent recently chronicled five major things Trump and his administration have done to roll back women’s rights. These rollbacks include blocking laws that promote equal pay for women, and dismantling reproductive health care services.
University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald, a nationally recognized expert on elections, told U.S. News & World Report last December about Trump’s lack of support from women voters: “Whatever’s going on here, it’s potentially costing him the election.”
“State-by-state polling this year indicates that Trump’s support among women in [battleground] states is eroding, perhaps by enough to flip the states for Biden in the fall,” reported U.S. News & World Report on Friday.
The Trump campaign has ramped up its efforts to sway women voters. In addition to launching the campaign’s Women for Trump coalition, the campaign has been dispatching high-profile women operatives to battleground states.
Last August, the campaign hosted a “Women for Trump” event in Tampa, Florida, featuring Trump surrogates Kellyanne Conway and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Kremer’s Women for Trump project did not appear to be part of the campaign’s Tampa event. But last June, Kremer’s group hosted its own “Women for Trump Kick-Off Party for 2020 campaign season,” in Orlando, Florida. An Eventbrite party flyer said special guests included Dr. Gina Loudon, now co-chair of the Trump campaign’s Women for Trump coalition Advisory Board, who Trump tweet-boosted last week.
In February of last year, the Treasurer of Women Vote Smart PAC resigned. Patrick Krason filed a resignation letter with the FEC, saying he “notified PAC Chairman & Co-Founder Amy Kremer of my decision and have made her aware of the rules concerning PAC spending and fundraising in the absence of a named Treasurer or Assistant Treasurer.” On May 1, The FEC addressed its notice of failure to file to Kremer, who is shown as the PAC Treasurer.
Also on May 1, Kremer’s nonprofit organization, Women for America First, organized “MAGA May Day,” nationwide protests against lockdowns, which have been enacted to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
A day after the MAGA May Day events, Kremer tweeted news of the protests’ success. And a post on what appears to be Kremer’s personal Facebook page linked to a Washington Times op-ed, titled, “Coronavirus hype biggest political hoax in history.” The April 28 op-ed said:
“In fact, COVID-19 will go down as one of the political world’s biggest, most shamefully overblown, overhyped, overly and irrationally inflated and outright deceptively flawed responses to a health matter in American history, one that was carried largely on the lips of medical professionals who have no business running a national economy or government.”
The IRS granted Kremer’s Women for America First 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status in 2020, according to GuideStar. IRS rules for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt social welfare organizations state that activities should “not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”
The Women for America First website splash page says: “FLIP THE HOUSE / TRUMP 2020.” It links to a sign-up page that says: “I stand with my President and PLEDGE to work to FLIP THE HOUSE and BOOT PELOSI as Speaker of the House.”
A donation page on the Women for America First site called “Boot Pelosi Tour” is a fundraising drive built around the organization’s effort to unseat Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
IRS rules for 501(c)(4) organizations also state: “Political activities may not be the organization’s primary activities.”
Though her Women Vote Smart PAC is a separate entity from her nonprofit Women for America First, the donation page on Kremer’s Women for Trump site says: “Our primary focus is to re-elect Donald J. Trump, take back the House and keep the Senate!”
Kremer’s Women for Trump and Women for America First websites both direct donations to be mailed to the same Marietta, Georgia, P.O. Box.
Attorney Eric Gorovitz, a San Francisco-based lawyer who specializes in nonprofit and tax-exempt law, spoke with Rantt Media about Women for America First’s tax-exempt status. He said, “The [website] content raises serious questions about what this organization is doing,” adding, “The IRS could look at this and decide to audit.”
But Gorovitz also noted that the IRS grants a wide berth to 501(c)(4) organizations like Women for America First to engage in political activities.
Also, the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations has a dark spot on its past. In 2013, an investigation revealed that the agency had been disproportionately targeting conservative nonprofit organizations — most notably, Tea Party groups.
Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS’s tax-exempt investigations, apologized and was held in contempt of Congress; charges against her were later dropped.
At the time of the Lois Lerner IRS debacle, Kremer, who was then chairwoman of the Tea Party Express PAC, told Slate: “Just like with Benghazi, the truth comes out after the election. This was nothing more than an effort to silence the opposition.”
Kremer’s reference to a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi has been debunked by numerous outlets, including The Washington Post Editorial Board.
Sal Russo, a co-founder with Kremer of the Tea Party movement, and currently a leader of the Tea Party Express PAC, also weighed in on the IRS scandal at the time, telling Slate:
“‘On our bus tours the local Tea Party groups were all screaming about it,’ says Sal Russo of Tea Party Express. (They’re a PAC, so they weren’t one of the groups under the gun.)”
Back in 2010, Kremer told The Guardian about Russo’s role in the Tea Party Express: “If it wasn’t for the leadership and wisdom of Sal Russo we wouldn’t be anywhere, because I sure as hell don’t know how to do this.”
Last year, Russo was named in a lawsuit brought by the California Attorney General alleging misuse of charity funds. In addition to his current Tea Party Express role, Russo is listed as a board member and chief strategist of Move America Forward, a charity that sends care packages to combat troops.
A press release from the California Office of the AG alleges self-dealing, claiming that funds were funneled into for-profit entities. “Russo’s companies were paid an estimated $1,818,000 as a result of these transactions,” says the OAG’s release.
The California AG’s lawsuit also claimed that Russo’s charity, Move America Forward, violated IRS rules by supporting a PAC and “using charitable donations to support at least two political campaigns.”
The press office of the California AG told Rantt Media that the lawsuit is still in litigation.
But unlike Russo’s nonprofit, which is classified as a 501(c)(3) charity, and therefore prohibited from engaging in political campaigns, Kremer’s Women For America First is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. So IRS rules on political engagement by Kremer’s nonprofit are broadly more flexible. And, historically, IRS enforcement of those rules has been pliable.
Noting the IRS’s vague language and poor history of enforcing rules for 501(c)(4) organizations, attorney Gorovitz said about Women for America First’s website, “The material suggests there’s good reason to question whether it should qualify for exemption,” concluding, “someone ought to look into this.”
Neither Amy Kremer nor anyone from her Women for Trump project, Women Vote Smart PAC or Women for America First has responded to our multiple inquiries. But this photo was posted on Amy Kremer’s public figure Facebook page on the same day that Rantt Media sent its first email inquiry.