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Trump-linked dark-money group spent $90m on racist and transphobic ads in 2022, records show

www.theguardian.com Trump-linked dark-money group spent $90m on racist and transphobic ads in 2022, records show

Revealed: Citizens for Sanity was one of top political spenders last election cycle and is back for 2024 with more extreme messaging

Trump-linked dark-money group spent $90m on racist and transphobic ads in 2022, records show

Revealed: Citizens for Sanity was one of top political spenders last election cycle and is back for 2024 with more extreme messaging

A dark money group with ties to Trump’s inner circle dropped more than $90m on ads described as vileracist and transphobic in the second half of 2022 alone, new tax records obtained by Documented and the Guardian reveal. The staggering sum makes the newly created group, which is based out of the nerve center for the Maga movement, one of the top political spenders in the last election cycle, as it now appears to gear up to influence voters with violent, bigoted messaging in 2024.

The group, called Citizens for Sanity, formed in mid-2022, and quickly drew attention as it flooded the airwaves in battleground states and swing districts with deeply offensive and often misleading ads. Some ads targeted LGBTQ+ rights and attacked “Biden and his radical allies” for supporting “the woke left’s war on girls’ sports” and the “woke war on our children”. Others pictured Latino immigrants and characterized them as criminals “draining your paychecks, wrecking your schools, ruining your hospitals [and] threatening your family”, declaring that “Joe Biden and the Democrats have erased our southern border”.

Another ad featured scene after scene of violent crime involving Black people, blaming the disturbing imagery on the “radical leftwing love affair with criminals”. The racist ads seem to be part of a bigger strategy to try and suppress voting among communities of color.

Not long ago, this kind of extreme messaging would be relegated to far-right internet message boards like 4Chan. But Citizens for Sanity even ran these ads during the World Series, and tax records show that Citizens for Sanity spent a stunning $93m in the final months of 2022, with nearly all of those funds going towards payments to outside media firms for “advertising and promotion”.

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Trump-linked dark-money group spent $90m on racist and transphobic ads in 2022, records show

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