Turning Point USA (TPUSA), the high school and college campus student organization founded in 2012 to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government,” is under fire once again for its connections to racists, as well as inflating its membership numbers, engaging in unethical activities, and unprofessionalism.
But this time the criticisms aren’t coming from TPUSA’s ideological adversaries, but rather Young America’s Foundation (YAF), a young conservative organization founded in 1969 that counts Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller among its alumni.
In a May 25 memo released publicly by YAF on June 14, YAF attacks TPUSA and its founder, 24-year-old Charlie Kirk, on multiple fronts, not least of all accusing TPUSA of “Boosting Numbers With Racists & Nazi Sympathizers.”
TPUSA’s flirtation with racists and racism is well documented. In a December 2017 expose in The New Yorker, reporter Jane Mayer was provided screenshots of a text message from TPUSA’s (now former) national field director, Crystal Clanton, that read, “i hate black people. Like f--- them all… I hate blacks. End of story.”
Kirk himself has been criticized for his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim tweets, and he habitually tweets out racist dog-whistles with statements like, “It would take 40 years worth of blacks killed by cops to equal the number of black [sic] killed by other blacks in one year.”
The critical YAF memo, titled “Advising our Students about TPUSA,” highlights the racist text message from Clanton reported in the New Yorker, along with recent incidents from TPUSA’s December Student Action Summit, first reported by Mediaite.
In a hotel room that Mediaite reports was paid for by TPUSA, Juan Pablo Andrade was filmed exclaiming, “The only thing the Nazis didn’t get right is they didn’t keep f------ going!” Mediaite identifies Juan Pablo Andrade as TPUSA’s Florida field director in 2015 and leader of of its informal Latino caucus in 2016. Also in the hotel room was Cesar Subervi, a racist “alt-right” activist who marched at the deadly August 2017 white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.
Mediaite also reported — and YAF highlighted in its memo — that Subervi was initially put on a “blacklist” of activists that TPUSA wanted to keep away from its conference, but TPUSA ditched the list in order to boost its attendance numbers.
The racist “alt-right” weren’t the only extremists TPUSA was associating with at the December 2017 summit. The conference also featured the anti-LGBT hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has linked homosexuality to pedophilia, worked to criminalize same-sex relationships abroad, and claims a nefarious “homosexual agenda” is afoot which will damage or destroy society.
ADF had a booth at TPUSA’s conference, and ADF senior counsel and director of its Center for Academic Freedom, Tyson C. Langhofer, gave a presentation titled “Suing Your School 101: Knowing and Defending the 1st Amendment on Campus.” During the presentation, Langhofer offered ADF’s services pro bono to students and attendees and told the crowd to reach out to him or ADF should anyone run into any “free speech” issues.
ADF has represented TPUSA chapters on multiple occasions in suits against universities, including Hagerstown Community College in Maryland, Macomb Community College in Michigan, and Arkansas State University.
TPUSA is no stranger to anti-Muslim figureheads, either; founder Charlie Kirk has thanked anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant stalwart David Horowitz for his “mentorship and guidance and advice throughout the years,” and Kirk met Candace Owens, now TPUSA’s communications director, at the November 2017 David Horowitz Freedom Center’s annual Restoration Weekend.
YAF’s anti-TPUSA memo also accuses Kirk’s group of “Falsification of Numbers and Activities,” highlighting a claim by Kirk that TPUSA helped elect more than 50 conservatives to student body president at campuses in the U.S. A report by Politico Magazine in April seemed to refute that claim, with the reporter writing, “In total, I spoke to seven college candidates whom Turning Point USA has, in one form or another, claimed to have supported in their successful bids for student body president. To a person, all said they’d never worked with the group.”
It all adds up to a very bad week for Turning Point USA and its founder, Charlie Kirk, who just last Saturday at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver was onstage boasting about TPUSA’s presence on 1,300 campuses across America. (The YAF memo disputes this number as well, and also notes TPUSA “fails to take into account the quality of student interactions.”)
The YAF memo concludes, “The long-term damage TPUSA could inflict on conservative students and the Conservative Movement can no longer be ignored. Although it runs counter to our instincts to advise students against becoming involved with other conservative organizations, students deserve to be warned about TPUSA.”