From the ‘Groyper Wars’ to ‘America First’: Nick Fuentes becomes a ‘somebody’

  • Self-described Christian reactionary livestreamer Nick Fuentes led his “Groyper Army” into a war against the conservative movement’s most prominent figures, including TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk and podcaster Ben Shapiro.
  • Fuentes blasted conservative rivals as too pro-gay, pro-immigrant, and pro-Israel to champion the ideals of “America First.” Between 2020 and 2023, he hosted a rival “America First” conference (AFPAC) to compete with the annual CPAC confab of the conservative establishment.
  • AFPAC’s main achievement has been engulfing MAGA-aligned politicians in controversy. In 2022, Fuentes collaborated with Milo Yiannopoulos to secure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s presence at his conference, only to relentlessly attack her once she denounced his “hateful” views.
  • In 2022, a Groyper loyalist working in Rep. Paul Gosar’s office, Wade Seerle, provided Fuentes’ political operation with a video address the congressman had recorded for CPAC. Though Gosar had previously attempted to distance himself from Fuentes, Seerle’s deceitful move guaranteed a trove of negative press for the congressman. Seerle also had access to Gosar’s Twitter account, suggesting the Groyper may be responsible for some of the congressman’s most inflammatory tweets.
  • Today, Fuentes sees himself — not former President Trump — as the face of “America First” conservatism

Read part one of The Grayzone’s investigation into Nick Fuentes here.

Read part three of The Grayzone’s investigation into Nick Fuentes here.

“I had no shortage of money. I’m somebody who can mobilize my supporters in real life in any major city in the country. I’m somebody who’s compelling… And, you know, I’m somebody that people are very, very loyal to.” – Nick Fuentes in “The Most Canceled Man in America”

“The article is called, ‘Is Nick Fuentes the future of America First or its kiss of death?'” 24 year old far-right agitator Nick Fuentes announced with wide eyes during a February 15 livestream dedicated to addressing part one of The Grayzone’s (or, “Gay-zone,” as he called it) investigation into his past, before blowing a kiss to the camera.

“A kiss?” the blue hoodie-clad livesteamer continued before sliding on a pair of black sunglasses and shouting: “I am ‘America First!’ How could I kiss me?!”

Fuentes proceeded to blow more kisses at his audience before accusing this publication of participating in a conspiracy against him coordinated by a motley assortment of powerful enemies, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson and former Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal, the father of Grayzone founder Max Blumenthal. He then spent roughly two hours attempting to convince his followers the piece was riddled with lies before descending into an impassioned rant referring to this author as an “ignorant woman.”

“You see why I am such a misogynist, you get an ignorant woman who is going to stick her little nose in there,” Fuentes fumed. “Fuck you, fuck your Jew husband, and his Sid Blumenthal Jew, Dem operative father, fuck you, you fucking cunt!”

Fuentes’ diatribe was triggered by The Grayzone’s report documenting how the livestreamer embellished his account of politically motivated government persecution in order to gain credibility within the MAGA movement as “The Most Canceled Man in America.” The report also explored his previously overlooked role in the January 6 Capitol riot, revealing how he agitated for protestors to “tear down the barricades and disregard the police” that afternoon before leaving the demonstration to get lunch. When five of his followers were ultimately arrested for breaching the Capitol grounds, Fuentes dismissed his former friends as “losers.”

As The Grayzone outlined, Fuentes’ destructive behavior has led some of those who have encountered him over the years to assert that he is either some kind of “asset” or “controlled opposition,” a charge which he vehemently rejects.

So how exactly did Fuentes gain national infamy? In this second installment of The Grayzone’s investigative series, we will chart his path from charismatic campus conservative to Commander in Chief of the “Groper Army,” a battalion of fanatical supporters who view the livestreamer as a “one in a million” natural talent and authentic voice of conservatism’s rising generation. 

Following Donald Trump’s war on the GOP establishment throughout his 2016 run for the White House, Fuentes launched his own campaign to become the face of the president’s incipient America First base. As we will see, he ultimately led his Groyper Army into ideological guerrilla warfare with Trump-aligned rivals including conservative campus organizer Charlie Kirk, podcaster Ben Shapiro, and even the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

Fuentes was ultimately able to leverage his Groyper Wars victory to claim least partial ownership of Trump’s America First brand. In 2020, he founded his own America First Foundation and organized the first annual America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) as a direct challenge to the long-established Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting. 

Setting up shop within blocks of CPAC’s convention between 2020 and 2022, Fuentes presented AFPAC as a nominally pro-Trump alternative to the annual gathering of the conservative establishment. Yet since its inception, one of AFPAC’s most significant achievements has been to engulf MAGA’s most ardent congressional allies in ugly controversies. These include Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who became a target of Fuentes’ misogynistic rage after an ill-fated visit to his conference in 2022.

Like most of Fuentes’ projects, it seems AFPAC has been more of a liability to the concept of America First than an asset. He used the most recent AFPAC gathering as a platform to exult Adolph Hitler before his followers unleashed chants supporting Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. And he did so soon after Rep. Greene addressed the crowd, but only once she was no longer present at the event.

Though the livestreamer’s relatively new political operation is flush with cash, its patrons are entirely anonymous. However, one fact is observably clear: Fuentes has exacted more damage on the MAGA/America First movement than most Democratic Party operatives could ever dream of inflicting.

“A nobody can be a somebody”

Hailing from the quiet Chicago suburb of La Grange, Illinois, Nicholas Joseph Fuentes enrolled at Boston University (BU) in 2016. Within weeks of his arrival on campus, the 18-year-old achieved internet stardom by delivering a fiery endorsement of then-candidate Donald Trump as part of a BU video series on the presidential election that year. Though the video has since mysteriously disappeared from the internet, making it impossible for The Grayzone to review Fuentes’ statement, it quickly racked up over 25,000 views on YouTube and set the teenager on a path towards national notoriety.

“The video went viral, and the comment sections spiraled out of control as roasting him turned into threats of violence,” recalled Vice News, declaring the controversy generated by the clip to be “Fuentes’ villain origin story.”

Indeed, within days of the video’s publication, Fuentes was appointed the de-facto spokesperson of the pro-Trump student body on BU’s campus. He exploited his new role to advocate for Trump while churning out a stream of incendiary and occasionally bizarre statements guaranteed to maximize continued media exposure. When BU’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty hosted a campus debate on the presidential election, it selected Fuentes to represent the Trump camp.

“[Hillary] Clinton is a lizard person,” he declared during the November 7, 2016 event, handing the Boston University News Service the perfect opening-line for its coverage of the debate. Oddly, BU’s write-up of the event hardly mentioned the issues at stake in the 2016 vote or either of the presidential candidates at all, instead focusing entirely on Fuentes and the controversy he generated on campus and beyond. That same week, BU’s offshoot of the student-focused tabloid-style news site The Tab featured a sit down interview with Fuentes, branding the teenager the “Trump supporter everyone is talking about.”

In just a few short weeks Fuentes had established a dynamic with BU’s student press that would continue to define his relationship with the media even as his celebrity flourished beyond the confines of campus: the more outlandishly he behaved, the more attention he received. Following Trump’s electoral triumph, he translated the media’s unrelenting gaze into a steady cash flow. 

Trump’s 2016 victory represented far more than the defeat of his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton. Throughout his primary and presidential campaigns, Trump took aim at not only the liberal boogeymen traditionally vilified by GOP candidates, but at the party’s ossified political elite. One by one, the standard bearers of the Republican Party — the Bush family, Fox News host Megyn Kelly, the neocon David Brooks types of the entrenched intelligentsia — saw their influence, their careers, and perhaps most significantly, their control of the popular narrative crumble before the force of Trump’s political blitzkrieg. As the party’s old guard fell, a younger cadre of wildly eccentric personalities rushed to fill the void left in Trump’s wake. Fuentes was perfectly situated to ride the wave of opportunity.

Within weeks of Trump’s inauguration in January of 2017, the college freshman launched his very own nightly webshow, “America First with Nick Fuentes,” on an up-and-coming MAGA-aligned media outfit called the Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN). By March, The Boston Globe was shadowing Fuentes on campus, lumping the BU student in with the likes of Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos and Newmax’s Tomi Lahren in its profile of the burgeoning youth media stars who had launched their careers on the back of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“Trump’s unlikely rise to power has boosted a new sect of young conservatives who, like Fuentes, are vying to become players in a quickly evolving right-wing media landscape,” the Globe explained, describing his “America First” program as “a surprisingly polished production” despite the fact it was streamed out of a college dorm room. 

Reflecting on his seemingly overnight success, Fuentes told the Globe that Trump’s revolution within the conservative establishment had created a media climate in which “a nobody can become a somebody.” 

Though he confessed at the time that his parents were concerned about his all-consuming commitment to politics, he dismissed their worries with a confident eye towards the future.

“Trump is a rocket ship,” he quipped. “And everyone is trying to attach themselves to it.”

An “Optics War” on MAGA’s royal family

Fuentes’ relationship with RSBN ultimately proved fleeting and consumed with conflict, much like his time as a student at BU. Within weeks of his show’s launch, RSBN was forced to issue an apology after Fuentes used their platform to declare that media personalities on CNN should be “deported or hanged.” RSBN officially severed ties with Fuentes just five months later, in August of 2017, following his participation in the controversial “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fuentes announced his withdrawal from BU that same month, telling the Boston Globe he was forced to quit his studies after receiving multiple death threats over his presence in Charlottesville.

Following his withdrawal from BU, Fuentes moved back in with his parents and took a job at the United Postal Service in Illinois. Around that time, he rebooted his America First YouTube show, which he broadcast out of his parents’ basement. 

Curiously, Fuentes spent the early days of his independent streaming career denouncing his contemporaries for adopting the sort of rhetoric and behavior he would later come to embrace. It was during this period that Fuentes launched what he later referred to as the “Optics War,” regularly using his livestream to call out figures such as extremist agitator Matthew Heimbach and president of the proudly white supremacist National Policy Institute think tank, Richard Spencer, for promoting neo-Nazi symbolism and ideology. 

“The point is to make us look dumb, to delegitimize legitimate issues. The point is to attract media attention or the attention of the federal government,” Fuentes complained during a livestream dedicated to revisiting his critique of Heimbach and Spencer’s blatant neo-Nazi rhetoric and propensity to show up to protests in absurd costumes. 

Throughout the early months of Trump’s presidency, the mainstream press trained its lens on the antics of Spencer and the UK-born Breitbart columnist Milo Yiannopoulos, as though they were the royal pair at the top of the newly emerged “alt-right” media hierarchy. 

Yet neither figure sustained celebrity status for long. Yiannopoulos was forced to resign from Breitbart in February of 2017 after he made comments that appeared to excuse pedophilic relationships between young boys and adult men. Yiannopoulos’ top financial and political backers, billionaire Trump-donor Robert Mercer and Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, officially severed ties with him later that year. 

Around the time that Yiannopoulos’ career went into free-fall, Spencer became bogged down in legal fights stemming from his participation in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that took place on August 10 and 11, 2017. Convened in opposition to the proposed removal of a local statue depicting Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the demonstrations descended into chaos on the second day when 20-year-old fanatic James Alex Fields Jr. drove his truck into a group of counter protestors who had gathered in the streets of downtown, killing one person. 

Following the lethal rampage in Charlottesville, Spencer attempted to preserve his celebrity by launching a nationwide “Unite the Right” college campus tour, inviting boycott campaigns and even physical attempts to shut down his speaking events nearly everywhere he went. The rowdy campaign culminated with a fist-fight between his supporters and detractors during a visit to Michigan State University in March of 2018 that resulted in the arrest of several of his allies, including the director of his NPI think tank. The incident marked the end of Spencer’s life in the public eye.

With Yiannopoulos and Spencer out of the picture, a fresh claim to the throne of “alt-right” royalty emerged from the dark corners of the internet. 

The Groyper Wars: say my name

On October 29, 2019, Trump-aligned activist and founder of the conservative student advocacy group Turning Points USA (TPUSA), Charlie Kirk, arrived at Ohio State University for a stop on his nationwide campus tour, “Culture Wars.” At the time, Kirk was unrivaled in his command over the youth conservative movement thanks to his leadership position at the generously funded TPUSA, which regularly described itself as the “fastest-growing conservative student organization in the country.”

Unfortunately for Kirk, however, the primary casualty of his “culture war” that evening would be his own character, and not the liberal establishment. When Kirk’s panel discussion on the US “culture war” came to a close, the event transformed into an open battle between warring factions of the campus conservative movement as students loyal to one of Kirk’s most dedicated foes took control of its question and answer session to cast doubt on the TPUSA founder’s commitment to right-wing principles.

“You’ve advocated on behalf of accepting homosexuality, accepting homosexual acts as normative in the conservative movement. How does anal sex help us win the culture war?” posed one critic.

“Can you prove that our white European ideals will be maintained if the country is no longer made up of white European descendants?” asked another.

The Ohio State event represented the last stand in what has come to be known as “The Groyper Wars,” a months-long campaign aimed at undermining Kirk’s credibility among conservative millennials based on accusations that he was too pro-gay, too pro-Israel, and too pro-immigrant to lead their campus crusade. Leading the charge against Kirk was none other than Fuentes, who by then had amassed his own sizable following of internet-obsessed youths known as “Groypers.”

Groypers named their online bloc after an offshoot of the infamous Pepe the Frog 4chan meme that rank and file “alt-right” internet trolls used as their mascot during Yiannopoulos and Spencer’s reign over the movement. As their influence waned throughout 2018, social media accounts affiliated with the alt-right began setting their profile photos to images of Groyper — an overweight, more depressive rendering of Pepe the Frog.

Pepe the Frog [left] Groyper [right]
Like the Pepe-aligned movement before them, Groypers defined themselves through a unique sensibility and set of hardline principles that placed them at odds with the mainstream conservative movement of yore. They replaced collared dress shirts and boat shoes with sweatshirts and sneakers; a commitment to serious debate with a penchant for mischievous irony; and the banner of traditional “family values” with a self-effacing embrace of the sexless “incel” identity. And while figures like Kirk remained committed to a vision of big tent GOP politics, Groypers vehemently rejected efforts to normalize moderate positions on issues such as gay rights and immigration within the MAGA-aligned wing of the Republican Party.

Throughout 2018, Fuentes established himself as the id of the creeping Groyper movement through his America First webshow, which gained popularity thanks to his regular attacks against Spencer. 

“It’s a grassroots, right-wing, internet, zoomer, Generation Z movement,” Fuentes described his Groyper Army during a November 2019 interview with Alex Jones’ Infowars network. He added: “we’re the future, we’re the next generation, we’re coming.”

When Kirk embarked on his nationwide “Culture Wars” speaking tour in 2019, Fuentes was prepared to take his Groyper Army beyond the virtual training grounds of Reddit and 4chan and into the realm of physical reality. 

As Kirk bounced between college campuses throughout the months of October and November, the Groyper Army answered Fuentes’ call to confrontation. Dozens of students loyal to Fuentes challenged Kirk during the question and answer portion of his events at the University of Iowa, University of New Hampshire, and beyond. 

More often than not, Kirk appeared flustered when challenged by Groyper logic. Following the fracas at Ohio State, an article in The Spectator documented how dozens of “Groypers, led by 22-year-old shitlord Nick Fuentes, have been infiltrating TPUSA events to launch a barrage of uncomfortable questions at Kirk. In some instances, they’ve managed to dominate the entire Q and A portion of events, as Kirk squirms on stage.”

Aside from undermining Kirk, the “Groyper Wars” exposed a glaring contradiction at the heart of “America First”-oriented conservatism. While a handful of their questions touched on issues such as gay-rights and immigration, the overwhelming majority focused on the critique that Kirk was too pro-Israel, asserting it was impossible to truly uphold “America First” principles while maintaining deference to the special relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv.

“Why would White Americans send their taxpayer dollars to fund Israel’s healthcare while our mothers fight cancer, our brothers die of opioid overdoses, and news of a coming baby brings not joy and happiness, but grave concern over thousands and thousands of future medical bills? How is that ‘America First’?” asked a questioner at the University of New Hampshire.

“What is the foreign aid we give Israel spent on?” Kirk shot back, intending to argue that sending billions of dollars to Israel was a sound investment because Tel Aviv was required to spend the money on U.S. weapons.

“Bombs for blowing up children,” the questioner replied without missing a beat, adding U.S. tax dollars also subsidized Israel’s healthcare system and “a wall that we don’t have.”

In a separate incident, Groypers claimed to successfully run Kirk off campus following a contentious event at the University of Houston. Video captured the moment Kirk hastily exited school grounds as a massive swarm of students heckled him with chants of “America First!”

According to The Spectator, it was through his war on Kirk that Fuentes finally managed to fill the leadership “gap” left in the wake of Yiannopoulos’ fallen star. 

“You need to say my name, Charlie Kirk,” Fuentes beamed during an “America First” livestream broadcast at the height of the “Groyper Wars.”

“You’re going to say my name, and you’re going to debate me,” he added. “You have no idea what’s coming.”

Commanding his army of trolls before a green screen in his parents’ basement, Fuentes had successfully mobilized a sustained, guerilla-style assault against what had previously been painted as “the dominant force in campus conservatism.” In doing so, he consolidated his influence over the most fringe elements of the American right and showed mainstream MAGA conservatives that he was a force to be reckoned with.

Indeed, Kirk was not the only target of Fuentes’ “Groyper Army.” Throughout the months of October and November 2019 Fuentes directed physical protests against a variety of rivals, including right-wing pundit Steven Crowder, conservative author Matt Walsh, and retired Navy SEAL-turned-neoconservative mouthpiece Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

Fuentes was so confident, in fact, that he led his Groyper troops directly to the doorstep of Trumpworld. In November of 2019, Fuentes-aligned hecklers at the University of California, Los Angeles, disrupted a TPUSA-sponsored book event for the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. 

Groypers swiftly took control of the gathering and eventually succeeded in booing Kirk, Don Jr., and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyel, off stage. (Guilfoyel happened to be the ex-wife of California’s uber-liberal Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom).

“You have no idea what has already been set in motion,” Fuentes declared during his “Groyper War” victory speech, an unrestrained grin spread across his face. “It can’t be stopped.”

Mama Groyper: The birth of the America First Foundation

After two months of directing constant, commando-style incursions into the “America First” movement from behind the curtain, Fuentes finally led his own personal “Groyper Wars” ambush in December of 2019, during TPUSA’s “Student Action Summit” in West Palm Beach, Florida. He had stealthily convened a concurrent “Groypers Leadership Summit” at an undisclosed location in the nearby area, effectively gathering his own infantry of militant loyalists in order to harass Kirk and his associates throughout the entirety of TPUSA’s national conference. 

Following at least two failed attempts to enter TPUSA’s convention, Fuentes opted to physically confront Kirk’s ally, Ben Shapiro, over his own denunciations of the Groyper Army. A target of the Groyper campus wars himself, Shapiro, a fanatical Zionist and former editor for Breitbart News, routinely characterized Fuentes and his supporters as “Nazis” while accusing them of peddling “pure, unbridled, vile garbage.”

Fuentes’ brief skirmish with Shapiro took place on December 20. When Shapiro arrived at a West Palm Beach hotel alongside his young children and pregnant wife that afternoon, Fuentes greeted him on the sidewalk out front with an earnest offer to debate.

“That’s our free speech warrior, everybody!” Fuentes scoffed, mocking Shapiro as he strode passed without even acknowledging the Groyper leader’s presence. “Champion of the battle of ideas!”

Despite the questionable optics of its closing encounter, the “Groyper Wars” brought Fuentes newfound notoriety, legitimacy, and influential friends in the conservative movement. His most consequential new ally would come in the form of Michelle Malkin, the Filipino-American darling of mainstream conservatism and author of multiple New York Times bestsellers, including “In Defense of Internment,” a justification for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s policy of rounding up Japanese Americans and placing them in concentration camps during World War II.

Michelle Malkin in 2004 promoting her book, In Defense of Internment

Malkin did not fit the profile of the typical Groyper foot soldier: she was a telegenic political professional of immigrant extraction, married to a Jewish contributor to Rand Corp, and – perhaps most unusual for the incel-centric Groyper subculture – an actual adult woman.

As the lines of the “Groyper Wars” were drawn, Malkin refused to rally alongside the likes of Kirk and Shapiro, instead blasting their camp for turning a cold shoulder to the rising generation of ideologically fervid conservative youth. While her contemporaries saw the Groyper Army as little more than a real-life troll farm, Malkin saw the future.

“I will not be using this blessed and privileged platform and my position to insult you, to marginalize you, or to shout you down,” Malkin vowed during a November 2019 talk at UCLA, just days after Don Jr.’s humiliating visit to the university. Malkin proceeded to take aim at Guilfoyel, condemning her former Fox News colleague for having “sneered” at conservative students simply because they asked “inconvenient questions” at Don Jr.’s event.

“Here is my message to the new generation of America Firsters exposing the big lies of the open-borders establishment and its controlled opposition: if I were your mom, I’d be proud as hell,” Malkin declared, clearly addressing a constituency that existed far beyond her audience at UCLA.

Whether she intended it or not, Malkin’s UCLA address would result in her designation as “Mama” of the Groyper Army — and her official shunning from the political camp she had called home for decades. Within days of her speech, the conservative Young America Foundation announced its decision to drop Malkin as a featured speaker, a gig she had maintained for 17 years. But as the media all but declared the end of her career, she prepared for a comeback. 

Malkin formalized her allegiance with Fuentes when she participated in his first ever America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) in Washington DC. Through AFPAC, Fuentes took the Groyper Wars strategy he had honed against Kirk directly to the heart of the conservative establishment. Just as Fuentes had trolled TPUSA’s 2019 leadership conference by organizing his own, copycat summit of Groypers nearby, he established AFPAC as an obvious challenge to the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, the major annual strategy session of the American political right. 

As such, AFPAC slated its inaugural gathering for the last week of February 2020, precisely the same time that GOP apparatchiks and their media allies were scheduled to kick off CPAC at the National Harbor located just outside of Washington DC. Though she had once been considered a fixture of the CPAC speakers list — having graced the stage to deliver a spirited rallying cry in support of President Trump just one year prior — Malkin’s defense of Fuentes had by then rendered her an official outsider.

“I won’t be on stage at @CPAC this year, but I WILL be covering it on the ground,” Malkin tweeted in the lead up to the conference, touting her freshly approved CPAC media credential.

“After covering @CPAC on Friday Feb. 28th, I will be speaking at the very first AFPAC – America First Political Action Conference in DC,” she added, plugging Fuentes’ fledgling venture. “It will be livestreamed. It’s time.”

Despite Malkin’s celebrity, AFPAC’s first installment failed to attract significant attendance or media attention. Even so, Fuentes pushed ahead with his brand. In May of 2020, he officially launched the America First Foundation, a nonprofit group which billed itself as a “civic organization” dedicated to promoting the ideals of President Trump while providing “a viable platform for young conservatives canceled by the gatekeepers of both the left and the right.” 

Presenting itself as the pro-Trump alternative to what it described as “Conservative Inc.,” AFPAC continued to lurk in CPAC’s shadow. As CPAC 2021 attendees descended upon the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, Fuentes and his supporters gathered at the Hilton hotel just down the street for “AFPAC II.” The event generated a handful of headlines after it was revealed that Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, an immigration hardliner and Trump ally in congress, had briefly stepped away from CPAC to deliver an address before Fuentes’ audience.

Yet it was not until both conferences returned to Orlando the following year that Fuentes was finally able to orchestrate enough controversy to put AFPAC on the map. In Fuentes’ own words, AFPAC III represented his group’s “most successful event ever” and attracted roughly 1,200 in person attendees. 

It began on February 25 at the Marriott Orlando World Center, just a 15 minute drive from the site of CPAC’s simultaneous meeting. Video of AFPAC III reveals a professional operation on par with that of its mainstream counterpart, complete with packed banquet halls, a speaker’s stage framed by towering jumbotrons, and a gourmet meal service. 

Who precisely footed the bill for AFPAC III’s impressive showing is still unknown. In fact, it is seemingly impossible to review any information regarding the governance or financial structure of Fuentes’ America First Foundation. The website does not include a leadership page or information about its board or affiliates beyond describing Fuentes as its “President and Founder.”

Public financial records offer little more insight. The America First Foundation’s tax documents for the 2020-2021 fiscal period reveal the group took in just over $130,000 in donations that year and spent the bulk of that money (roughly $97,000) on expenses. The foundation’s primary expenditures were listed as “event expenses” and “video production,” likely related to organizing AFPAC II in February 2021.

Additionally, the form lists only three employees of the America First Foundation, none of whom received a salary: Fuentes as President and CEO; Malkin as Director; and Jaden McNeil as Treasurer. 

The America First Foundation’s tax documents for the 2021-2022 fiscal period are conspicuously absent from the public record. Yet if AFPAC III was any indication, by that time Fuentes’ budding political project was raking in significant amounts of cash.

As AFPAC’s coffers filled up, the group’s treasurer, McNeil, broke away from the Groyper fold. He was soon deluged with threats from low-profile Groypers yearning for their leader’s attention and approval, including one public pledge by Fuentes ally Paul Town to murder McNeil’s family and rape him and his grandmother.

Fuentes said Town’s threats against his former friend and staffer were “so funny, man. I don’t know how you can’t just laugh at that.”

From Groyper Hero to zero

Aside from AFPAC III’s professional upgrade, the event’s success was largely due to the fact that Fuentes and his cohorts managed to wrangle two sitting members of congress into making an appearance at the event: Gosar, and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (popularly referred to as “MTG”). Upon closer examination, however, Gosar and Greene’s presence was not necessarily a reflection of their fondness for Fuentes, but of the livestreamer’s manipulation skills and his impressive breadth of influence.

Indeed, Gosar’s 2022 AFPAC address provides a perfect study in the underhanded tactics that became the hallmark of Fuentes’ political operation. After attracting negative press for associating with Fuentes the previous year, Gosar attempted to distance himself from the livestreamer in the immediate aftermath of his visit to AFPAC in 2021.

“I want to tell you, I denounce when we talk about white racism. That’s not appropriate,” Gosar told a crowd at CPAC less than 12 hours after his speech at AFPAC II, insisting he simply believed in “a strong immigration system.”

Just one year later, Gosar was under fire for addressing AFPAC yet again. This time, however, his presence did not come in the form of an in-person speech, but a generic, pre-recorded message that did not even mention AFPAC or Fuentes by name. In fact, Gosar later told the press that he had not intended to send the message to AFPAC at all, claiming he recorded the video for CPAC and other GOP events, but that it fell into Fuentes’ hands due to a “miscommunication” between his staffers.

So how did Gosar’s recorded message wind up in the hands of AFPAC? It turns out that a member of the congressman’s staff deliberately sent the video to Fuentes in order to legitimize the livestreamer’s America First operation. Speaking to the since-deleted Kino Casino YouTube channel in July of 2022, a former AFPAC insider named Simon Dickerman explained that one of Gosar’s staffers – a dedicated Groyper named Wade Seerle – oversaw the leak out of loyalty to Fuentes. 

Characterizing the Gosar staffer as a “Groyper spy,” Dickerman published internal America First Foundation chats that show Seerle reassured the group his boss was “sending a vid” to AFPAC III despite the congressman’s effort to disassociate from Fuentes. Operating under the pseudonym “Chikken,” Seerle also complained that Gosar was unwilling to embrace Fuentes because the congressman wanted to appease his wife as well as then-House Minority Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

According to  the narrative Dickerman shared on Kino Casino, Seerle was not only responsible for Gosar’s non-consensual AFPAC appearance but was likely the force behind a now infamous tweet sent from the congressman’s Twitter account that described Uvalde school shooter Salvatore Ramos as a “transexual illegal alien.” The inflammatory and factually incorrect tweet embroiled Gosar in a week’s long media scandal, and even prompted local Arizona media to declare he was “unfit to serve.”

It remains unclear if Gosar knew which of his staffers was behind the tweet, or the damaging AFPAC video leak. As of this report’s publication, Legistorm still lists Seerle as Gosar’s “Digital Director.”

Like Gosar’s address, Rep. Greene’s appearance at AFPAC III was the result of a deliberate AFPAC operation that had permeated the ranks of her staff. Greene’s link to Fuentes was not an unknown Groyper loyalist, however, but the “alt-right’s” former posterboy himself, Milo Yiannopoulos.

Milo resurfaced in 2021 to deliver a rousing defense of “conversion therapy” and claim that it had cleansed him of same-sex attraction. He then announced that he was opening a Florida clinic to convert other homosexuals.

About a year later, Milo successfully embedded himself inside Greene’s congressional office, where he claimed he had taken the position of an “unpaid intern.” 

“Milo works for MTG. Milo is BFFs with us,” Fuentes informed his associates in the lead up to AFPAC III, according to leaked internal chats.

“You have no idea how this shit is about to take off,” he continued, before adding, “Screenshot this.”

Having accompanied Greene on her trip to CPAC, it was Yiannopoulos who ultimately convinced the freshman congresswoman not to pass up the opportunity to address an enthusiastic crowd of young, dedicated “America Firsters” gathered nearby. 

“The surprise appearance of Marjorie Taylor Greene was history,” Fuentes later reflected on the triumph of AFPAC III. “I get a text from Milo Yiannopoulos, who’s supposed to come as a special guest, and he says: ‘Hey, I’m with Marjorie Taylor Greene. She wants to stop in at AFPAC, she wants to give a five minute speech and give some words of encouragement.’”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene delivers a surprise address to AFPAC in 2022

Upon her impromptu arrival at the AFPAC podium, Greene launched into a brief speech decrying media censorship and cancel culture.

“Hello canceled Americans,” she joked, shortly before declaring, “I don’t believe anyone should be canceled.” As she continued her address before the excited crowd, Greene noted Twitter had permanently suspended her own personal account as part of a censorship campaign waged the previous month. 

Yet by participating in AFPAC, Greene had stumbled into a trap that would only intensify the effort to cancel her. Within hours, her presence at the summit had sparked a barrage of attacks from the media and her colleagues in government alike, including a call from the Democratic National Committee to expel her from the Republican Party caucus altogether. 

Meanwhile, mainstream GOP stalwarts including since-defeated House Representative Liz Cheney, failed presidential candidate-turned Senator Mitt Romney, and Trump’s neoconservative Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined the chorus of castigation against the congresswoman. While accusing Greene of participating in a “white nationalist event,” critics focused their outrage on comments Fuentes made during his own AFPAC address — a speech for which the congresswoman had not even been present.  

“They’re going on about Russia, and ‘Vladimir Putin is Hitler’ – they say that’s not a good thing!” Fuentes exclaimed after Greene had exited the premises. He paused momentarily for comedic effect before bursting into laughter and bashfully declaring, “I shouldn’t have said that.”

Indeed, it is hard to imagine how a serious political operative in the United States could have been careless enough to make such a flagrantly charged declaration, especially after hosting a sitting member of Congress. Yet Fuentes quickly took his inflammatory rant to the next level, inciting AFPAC III’s audience to belt out chants of “Putin! Putin!” in a show of support for Russia’s freshly launched military campaign in Ukraine.

When CBS grilled her less than 24 hours following her appearance at AFPAC, Greene insisted she knew little about the group’s founder: “I do not know Nick Fuentes, I’ve never heard him speak, I’ve never seen a video, I don’t know what his views are.”

“I went to his event last night to address his very large following,” she continued, emphasizing her rejection of Fuentes’ opinions. “It’s a very young following, and it’s a generation I’m extremely concerned about.”

Fuentes did not refute the congresswoman’s claim, instead telling a documentary film crew that he had “never met MTG” before AFPAC III and that what she told CBS “was true.”

Greene would ultimately take to Twitter to denounce Fuentes and what she characterized as “his racists [sic] and anti-semitic ideology” shortly after her personal account on the site was reinstated in November of 2022. Around the same time, she posted a video statement describing the Groyper leader as an “immature young man saying hateful things about people.”

Rather than brush Greene’s remarks aside, Fuentes replied by announcing he was “over” Greene. He then unleashed a torrent of deeply personal, misogynistic taunts against the congresswoman, inspiring his followers to adopt a similarly dehumanizing line of attack.

On its own, Fuentes’ fall out with Greene could have been chalked up to a spiteful personal revenge campaign spurred by the bitter sting of rejection. When told within the context of his unwavering jihad against the backbone of pro-Trump conservatism, however, it represents yet another highlight in the career of MAGA’s most effective saboteur. 

In the winding tale of Fuentes’ quest for infamy, there is perhaps no greater testament to his vengeful character than his all-consuming crusade against Joe Kent, a retired US Special Forces Officer and Trump-endorsed house candidate in the 2022 midterm election. While stifling Kent’s outsider campaign — which hinged on his passionate opposition to the Ukraine proxy war and the US military-industrial complex — Fuentes openly celebrated when liberal media outlets promoted his obsessive subversion effort. 

In the final installment of this investigative series, we will see how Fuentes swooped into a key swing district to deliver the Democratic Party one of its most unlikely – and most pivotal – midterm victories.