Charlie Kirk’s right-wing youth-focused Turning Point USA nonprofit is growing fast, key staff are profiting and Kirk is building a huge base for his far-right views

Charlie Kirk (img courtesy Gage Skidmore), Donald Trump

Charlie Kirk co-founded the nonprofit Turning Point USA in 2012 when he was eighteen years old. The Turning Point USA website describes their mission “to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote freedom.” But that description whitewashes a much more radical far-right agenda pushed by Kirk.

At the age of thirty years old when many people are still figuring out their future career plans, Charlie Kirk already has twelve years of experience managing and growing multiple organizations, cultivating youth-focused right-wing activism on campuses across the country, and building a powerful network of conservative donors and partners.

Charlie Kirk is a force to be watched as his reach and impact grow. His views are not only conservative, they are extreme. He has a rapidly growing, well-funded group of linked organizations that he uses to support and indoctrinate the next generation of far-right leaders and activists.

Charlie Kirk leads several Turning Point nonprofits and a vast youth movement while advocating on his media platform for extremist far-right policies

According to the Turning Point USA website, the nonprofit has 350 part and full-time staff and has over 800 chapters and a presence on 3,500 campuses across the U.S. where they promote their agenda, register voters, run events and recruit new activists. The reach and impact of Kirk’s Turning Point USA is growing rapidly. Further on in this article there is a description of the exponential growth that keeps doubling the size of his budget every few years.

On the surface the website presents a mainstream conservative organization that supports the United States, the Constitution and capitalism and describes their mission:

Since its founding, Turning Point USA has embarked on a mission to build the most organized, active, and powerful conservative grassroots activist network on high school and college campuses across the country. With a presence on over 3,500 campuses, Turning Point USA is the largest and fastest-growing youth organization in America.

The site is full of links to resources, activism kits, branding toolkits, forms that collect information and register people to join and lead student and campus movements, attend events, and register to vote. There’s a Turning Point Academy, Resources for pastors and TPUSA Faith which is “on a mission to serve the American church by resourcing Christians across the nation to stand for liberty and The Kingdom.” BLEXIT run by Candace Owens, and which focuses on these same values for minority communities, was originally spun off from Turning Point and is now part of TPUSA.

While on the surface the website supports American conservative values, it is effectively mobilizing a vast youth movement led by Charlie Kirk who voices much more radical destructive far-right views. His media platform includes videos, podcasts and more, including The Charlie Kirk Show, and his shows are available on Rumble and through Salem Media and other right-wing outlets.

Below is a sampling of Charlie Kirk videos that show his broad range — covering mainstream issues while also frequently airing far-right views and conspiracy theories. Like Tucker Carlson and other right-wing propagandists, Kirk is an expert in framing radical views with well-honed arguments and false claims of support for patriotic values while advocating for bigoted, divisive and extreme policies.

  • In this video Kirk says birth control screws up female brains and everyone should make sure loved ones are not on birth control, which creates angry bitter women.
  • Kirk describes the pro-life portfolio that includes banning gender affirming care for minors, banning drag shows in public libraries, not having pornography taught to children in public schools, and banning funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • Kirk talks with David Sacks about how America is being blackmailed by the Zelensky regime. Kirk calls Ukraine President Zelensky ‘that no good pimp’ and ‘mafia don’ and compares Zelensky to Hamas because Kirk says Zelensky is taking the U.S. senate hostage.
  • Kirk describes pediatric bullying around vaccines and interviews Dr. Pierre Kory author of ‘The War on Ivermectin’ who describes nightmarish childhood vaccines and how vaccines cause autism.
  • Kirk has been actively pushing for Nebraska to change their electoral process which allows Democrats to get one vote to the ‘winner take all’ system before the general election.
  • Kirk interviewed Rudy Giuliani on how to stop America’s crime epidemic.
  • Kirk talked to Michael Seifert who runs conservative marketplace Public Square about fighting ‘wokeism’ ESG, DEI and uniting values based businesses.
  • Kirk interviewed Lara Logan who said the Baltimore bridge collapse was not an accident.
  • Kirk and his colleague talked about the ‘Myth of MLK Jr.’ and sprinkled positive words for MLK with an overall argument that support for MLK and the Civil Rights Act has led to a more racially divided country. Kirk said the Civil Rights Act is a color-preference act not a color-blindness act.

Allegations of racial bias at Turning Point USA related to a former top executive who will soon clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

In 2017 Jane Mayer published an in-depth New Yorker story on allegations of racial bias and illegal campaign activity at Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA.

The story noted that Turning Point USA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and the IRS strictly prohibits this type of organization from engaging directly or indirectly in political elections. However several former Turning Point USA employees said the nonprofit often crossed the line in supporting political campaigns and described several examples of where this occurred.

One employee described how her boss Crystal Clanton had “e-mailed her at her Turning Point address to make arrangements for her to coordinate with Ginni Thomas, the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to help Ted Cruz’s Presidential campaign.”

Crystal Clanton had been Turning Point USA’s national field director and the group’s second highest official for five years. A source provided screenshots of a text message Clanton had sent to another Turning Point employee saying “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all… I hate blacks. End of story.” Clanton, who resigned after the text was revealed, said “I have no recollection of these messages and they do not reflect what I believe or who I am and the same was true when I was a teenager.”

In a recent update, a March 2024 article in the New York Times revealed that after Crystal Clanton left Turning Point USA she lived for a year with Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni. Clanton worked for Ginni Thomas’s political firm Liberty Consulting, and with their encouragement, she applied to law school. An email was sent out in late February 2024 announcing that Crystal Clanton had been selected to be a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Recently Charlie Kirk has continued to push racist views such as the show he did this year on the ‘Myth of MLK Jr.’ A Wired story from early 2024 described Kirk’s campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Act.

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk is preparing to launch a campaign against MLK and the landmark civil rights law he helped enact…In December 2023, speaking before a group of students and teachers at America Fest, a political convention organized by Turning Point USA, Kirk struck a different tone…“MLK was awful,” Kirk said. “He’s not a good person. He said one good thing he actually didn’t believe.”

Charlie Kirk’s star rose quickly when Trump became President

A 2018 Politico profile of Charlie Kirk described him as “Trump’s Man on Campus” and described how he seemed to come straight out of central casting:

“Charlie Kirk is the kind of young conservative a sitcom writer would dream up, 6-foot-4, thin and pale-skinned, something like Family Ties’ Alex P. Keaton elongated to the scale of Veep’s Jonah Ryan.”

Early backers of Kirk’s Turning Point USA included Republican donor Foster Friess, Bruce Rauner, Gary Rabine and sponsorships from organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, the Reason Foundation, the Heartland Institute and the NRA.

Kirk’s Turning Point USA gained notoriety two weeks after Trump was elected by launching a ‘Professor Watchlist’ meant to track professors who “discriminate against conservative students” and promote “leftist propaganda.” This feature, along with a ‘School Board Watchlist,’ is currently on the TPUSA website.

Jane Mayer’s New Yorker story described a Turning Point brochure with a multi-phase plan to “commandeer the top office of Student Body President at each of the most recognizable and influential American Universities” through Turning Point’s Campus Victory Project which needed $2.2 million in funding at the time.

Mayer highlighted how campus elections were vulnerable to outside dark money and referenced an earlier article by Michael Vasquez in The Chronicle of Higher Education called “Inside a Stealth Plan for Political Influence” that recounted accusations on multiple campuses that Turning Point had funneled money into student elections and violated those schools’ funding caps and transparency requirements.

Politico described how donors to the Campus Victory program may have been getting skewed data about the success of the program:

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.

When approached with these findings, Charlie Kirk replied: “We don’t comment on the effectiveness or strategies we take to ensure common sense leaders ability to prevail over radical leftists.” 

The network supporting Charlie Kirk and Turning Point USA

A story in the Daily Beast described how several accused fraudsters had helped finance a four-day Turning Point USA America Fest event held in December 2023, which featured speakers such as Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump Jr. and Marjorie Taylor Green.

America Fest’s sole Diamond sponsor was Fisher Capital, which regulators charged in April 2023 with scamming senior citizens into liquidating their retirement accounts and using the money to buy gold and silver coins at inflated prices. The next sponsorship rank included the New Federal State of China, which was co-founded by Stephen Bannon and indicted Chinese financier Guo Wengui.

However, while these accused fraudsters sponsored this event, the major funding for Turning Point USA and its related nonprofits comes from donors, most of whom remain anonymous. This NBC article described how ten anonymous donors helped boost TPUSA’s revenue during the pandemic, helping it expand its focus on culture war activism.

The Turning Point USA website gives an indication of the type of network supporting Kirk and TPUSA – the honorary board and advisory council includes Richard Grenell, Sebastian Gorka, Mike Lindell, Darren Blanton, Gentry Beach, and Michele Bachmann.

A few degrees of separation from Charlie Kirk and Turning Point USA to indicted FBI informant Alexander Smirnov

This 2018 Politico story described that Jon Willis, a real estate broker in Arizona, was a donor to Turning Point USA and gave a speech at an Arizona State chapter of Turning Point USA. Recently Twitter researcher @Braisincapital brought to my attention how Willis is connected to the recent news about an FBI informant indicted for spreading lies about the Bidens.

This 2018 tweet by Zach Everson showed Jon Willis who was at the time on the TPUSA advisory council:

A 2021 Axios story reported on talks Trump was having with ‘no-name app vendors’ as he was planning his social media business. Sources said an app Trump and his digital adviser Dan Scavino were looking at was FreeSpace which was affiliated with Skylabs, and that both apps were run by Jon Willis, who was also the CEO of Matchstick Media, a marketing agency based in Arizona, and executive vice president of Legacy Sports USA, a sports facility in Arizona.

In recent news, FBI informant Alexander Smirnov was indicted for lying to the FBI about information on Hunter Biden that was used by the GOP to try to impeach President Biden. A Wall Street Journal story on Smirnov described discussions he had with Dean Grey the founder of California company Skylab and that Smirnov consulted on discussions around taking Skylab public. Twitter research @Braisincapital found that Skylab is the same company run by Jon Willis who had been a TPUSA advisory council member and donor.

Per this ProPublica story Jon Willis said he met Donald Trump Jr. in 2016 through a mutual connection at Turning Point USA, which perhaps might explain why Trump was once considering Willis’s FreeSpace app.

There are other interesting people involved with Skylab including Jaco Booyens as reported here by Jacqueline Sweet, and who I had earlier noticed had been involved in Parler. And the overlapping connections continue — Rebekah Mercer was an investor in Parler and Candace Owens’ husband George Farmer had been the CEO of Parler. Candace Owens had worked for Turning Point and launched the BLEXIT Foundation, where Rebecca Mercer is on the board, and BLEXIT is now part of Turning Point.

Turning Point USA, Candace Owens and Prager University

There’s another set of oddly overlapping people and financial payments involving Candace Owens, Kirk’s Turning Point USA and Prager University.

In August 2023 I wrote a story on who funds the nonprofit Prager University which creates content for K-12 students that pushes far-right propaganda, and how Prager University spends their money including their highest paid contractors.

In 2019 PragerU paid right wing activist Candace Owens $445,626. Among other things she narrated a video called “The Plantation: Then and Now” where she said slave owners were almost without exception Democrats and described how Democrats are now modern day plantation owners.

In 2019 when Candace Owens earned over $445,000 from PragerU she also stepped down from being the communications director at Turning Point USA – which in 2019 and 2020 donated $500,000 to PragerU.

This is also the same time period when she launched Turning Point USA spin-off BLEXIT Foundation. In 2018 Candace Owens and Brandon Tatum spoke at Turning Point USA’s Young Black Leadership Summit in Washington D.C., where then-President Trump was a featured speaker. Shortly after the event the BLEXIT Foundation was formed which Candace Owens called a renaissance and said “Blexit is the black exit from the Democratic Party.”

Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA nonprofit is growing rapidly

The rapid growth and reach of Charlie Kirk’s influence is supported by the financial growth of his Turning Point USA nonprofit.

This snapshot from Propublica’s Nonprofit Explorer shows how quickly Turning Point USA has grown in the past few years. TPUSA earned $39.8 million in revenue in 2020 compared to $80.6 million in revenue in 2022 – doubling in size in a few years. Total assets almost quadrupled over the same period, growing from $7.3 million in 2020 to $26.8 million in 2022.

Source: ProPublica

Turning Point USA Inc. and related nonprofits run by Charlie Kirk

There are three other nonprofits related to Turning Point USA – Turning Point Endowment, Turning Point Action and Americas Turning Point Inc. In addition Turning Point USA controls a for-profit merchandising company called TPUSA Merch LLC, which lists Turning Point USA’s chief marketing officer Marina Minas as a company manager.

It’s difficult to determine the total revenues and assets across the various nonprofits since some of the money is granted from one nonprofit to another. For example, for the year ended June 2022 Turning Point USA Inc. gave a grant of $11 million to Turning Point Endowment and a grant of $1 million to Turning Point Action.

Since 2018 Turning Point USA has given over $50 million in grants to the Turning Point Endowment, which, according to their most recent IRS 990 for the year ending June 30, 2022, had over $55 million in net assets.

In addition to these related nonprofits, last year the BLEXIT Foundation, co-founded in 2019 by Candace Owens and Brandon Tatum announced that it had merged back in with Turning Point USA. The 2022 BLEXIT IRS filing shows that the nonprofit had earned almost $3 million in revenue in 2022 and Rebekah Mercer is listed as a board member as of September 2022.

How Turning Point USA leadership is profiting

An October 2023 AP story reported on how Charlie Kirk had leveraged Trump’s MAGA movement to become a millionaire.

The article described Kirk’s $4.75 million Spanish-style estate in a gated country club in Arizona and how other Turning Point officials enjoyed lavish salaries and perks and had “steered at least $15.2 million to companies that they, their friends and associates are affiliated with.”

Two members of Turning Point USA’s senior fundraising staff – Joshua Thifault and Stacy Sheridan – earned significant money from payments made to their for-profit fund-raising businesses.

Stacy Sheridan, Turning Point’s senior advancement director, is listed as a corporate officer for three limited liability companies that have received at least $2.7 million since 2018. She earned $180,000 in compensation during Turning Point’s 2018 fiscal year. Subsequent salary figures have not been disclosed.

Joshua Thifault, Turning Point’s senior director of major gifts, earned $443,000 between 2021 and 2022. A company he controls received an additional $129,000 for fundraising work during that time.

Overlap in Turning Point USA staff and the for-profit fundraising firms

I looked further into the financial payments made by Kirk’s nonprofits to the for-profit businesses run by staff affiliated with Turning Point USA.

Stacy Sheridan is listed on the TPUSA website as Sr. Director Development. She is the only officer listed, as governor, for Cloverstone Ventures LLC incorporated in Washington DC.

The TPUSA 990 filing for the year ending June 2022 lists Cloverstone Ventures in Part VII Section B Independent Contractors as a top 5 contractor paid $827,821. The same filing Schedule G lists Cloverstone Ventures and fundraising gross receipts of $17,058,531 and that Cloverstone was paid $641,466. The same year the filing for another Charlie Kirk nonprofit Turning Point Action shows Cloverstone had fundraising receipts of $485,000 and was paid $15,875.

The Turning Point USA filing for the year ending June 2021 shows Cloverstone Ventures fundraising gross receipts of $16,334,200 and amount paid was $505,293. The same year the Turning Point Action filing lists Cloverstone Ventures as an Independent Contractor paid $101,065 and the Schedule G shows $2,081,550 raised and a payment of $154,452.

Stacy Sheridan was listed as the sole officer of Lionrock Ventures incorporated in California. In 2021 Turning Point USA paid Lionrock $627,582 in Schedule G fundraising and $351,897 in the top 5 contractor section. In 2021 TPUSA paid Lionrock $386,693.

Josh Thifault is listed as Sr. Director of Major Gifts for TPUSA and is the only member of Blue Mountain Strategies, LLC incorporated in Alaska. The TPUSA filing for the year ending June 2022 shows Blue Mountain raised $4,467,053 and was paid $129,801.

While Sheridan’s Cloverstone and Thifault’s Blue Mountain were paid between 3-4% of the total fundraising gross receipts, Justin Streiff, who is the Chief Development & Growth Officer at TPUSA, is also a partner at American Philanthropic, which was paid over 30% of gross receipts in 2020 and 2021.

Turning Point USA’s filing for year ending June 2021 shows American Philanthropic ‘Direct Mail Consulting’ gross receipts were $1,711,711 and they were paid $589,258 or 34% of the total raised. In 2020 they raised $383,816 and were paid $141,354 or 37%.

Other notable Turning Point top contractors and fundraiser

A few other notable contractors, that do not have known direct connections to Turning Point staff, include:

  • Active Engagement, founded by Richard Norman, a member of the Council for National Policy – received $736,183 as a top 5 contractor in 2022 and $772,569 in Schedule G fundraising from TPUSA in 2022.
  • Olympic Media, founded by Ryan Coyne, which was later renamed Starboard and briefly bought Parler, received $111,072 in 2022 from TPUSA, and $792,702 as a top 5 contractor in 2022 and $237,811 in Schedule G fundraising from Turning Point Action in 2022. Olympic media was also paid $24,814 in 2022, $284,404 in 2021, and $612,356 in 2020 by BLEXIT.
  • Jake Hoffman, Arizona senator and fake elector, founded two companies Rally Forge and 1Ten LLC. Rally Forge was paid $531,198 by TPUSA in 2020 and was paid by Turning Point Action: $102,704 in 2020 and $1,816,755 in 2021. 1Ten LLC was paid $128,000 in 2022 by Turning Point Action.
  • The McEntee Group LLC founded by Trump’s former body man John McEntee was paid $107,500 by Turning Point Action in 2022.

Charlie Kirk with his network of rapidly growing nonprofits is leading one of the largest and most effective youth activism movements in the U.S. He espouses radical far-right views and at the age of thirty, is positioned to play a prominent role across a wide range of academic, cultural and political spheres. The rise in fascism and authoritarianism has often been supported by well-organized youth movements, and Charlie Kirk is taking on the mantle as a leading far-right youth leader of our time.

Heading into the 2024 election and beyond Charlie Kirk’s influence on the youth vote, shaping future policies, and the way he manages his overlapping nonprofits and political work should be followed closely.

A special thank you to Twitter researcher @Mountainstars who contributed to this article.


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