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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Make America Awesome

pg16insertPolitical Leanings: Republican/Anti-Trump Super PAC

Spending Target: Unknown

Make America Awesome was formed in December 2015 in opposition to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

As of April 1, the super PAC has spent almost $19,000 opposing Trump, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The majority of that has gone toward radio ads in Indiana, New Hampshire, Maryland and Florida.

The super PAC’s founder, Liz Mair, is a Republican communications operative and strategist who served as the Republican National Committee’s online communications director during the 2008 campaign. Mair, who founded the communications and public relations firm Mair Strategies, has consulted in the past for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. In addition, she advised Carly Fiorina’s 2010 U.S. Senate bid in California, and was briefly hired to direct online communications for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential super PAC, Our American Revival, before resigning after she tweeted statements critical of the Iowa caucus.

Christopher M. Marston, who is listed as Make America Awesome’s treasurer, is a veteran Republican consultant who founded Election CFO, a campaign finance and compliance firm. Through Election CFO, Marston has served as the treasurer on record for more than 50 campaign committees, political action committees and other groups since 2012, including almost 40 that are active in the 2016 cycle. Notably, he has worked for One Vote, which supported Dr. Ben Carson’s presidential campaign; the Red White and Blue Fund, which backed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s campaign in 2012; and the issue advocacy group American Future Fund. Marston also held top positions in the administration of President George W. Bush, as assistant secretary for management at the Education Department and chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Make America Awesome says its mission is “blocking and reversing Donald Trump’s political ascent” by “using unconventional and cost-effective tactics.” So far, this has taken the form of highly targeted radio, television and social media ads, some of which have garnered media attention for controversial content. In March, the group released a series of ads on Facebook and Instagram targeted at Mormon women in Utah before that state’s Republican caucus on March 22 (which Sen. Ted Cruz won). One of those ads featured a provocative image of Trump’s wife, Melania. Trump, without evidence, falsely accused Cruz’s campaign of buying the rights to the photo and giving it to the super PAC to use in its ads. The photographer who took the photo, Antoine Verglas, told FactCheck.org that no one contacted him to buy the rights.

In its brief existence, Make America Awesome has not raised a large sum of money. As of its last filing with the Federal Election Commission in February, the PAC had raised just under $21,000. Of that amount, 70 percent came from unitemized donations, or individual donations totaling less than $200. The largest individual donations — $1,000 — came from Donald Gayhardt, the president and CEO of Speedy Group Holdings, who has contributed to both Democratic and Republican campaigns and PACs, and Donald Sherwood, a former U.S. representative from Pennsylvania, who regularly donates to Republicans.

In a piece republished by the Huffington Post, Mair, the PAC’s founder, wrote that “we operate with a mid-five-figure budget, not a seven-figure budget, but we’re very strategic, targeted, scrappy, and punch well above our weight.”