A network of right-leaning individuals and groups, aided by nimble online outfits, has helped incubate the fervor erupting in state capitals across the country. The activism is often organic and the frustration deeply felt, but it is also being amplified, and in some cases coordinated, by longtime conservative activists, whose robust operations were initially set up with help from Republican megadonors.
The Convention of States project launched in 2015 with a high-dollar donation from the family foundation of Robert Mercer, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Republican patron. It boasts past support from two members of the Trump administration — Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development.
It also trumpets a prior endorsement from Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida and a close Trump ally who is pursuing an aggressive plan to reopen his state’s economy. Cuccinelli, Carson and DeSantis did not respond to requests for comment.
The individual protesters have strong feelings—based on misinformation and cultural/political affiliation—just like the Tea Party people did, but this is not some grassroots organic movement. There is a pre-existing and well-financed right-wing infrastructure that has been built over the last four decades to amplify this sort of stuff.