In the days before the 2016 election, we noted that a pro-Trump group called Secure America Now had been heavily promoting a bonkers social media ad showing the future of the United States as “the Islamic States of America,” and had created versions specific to France and Germany as well.
At the time, the funding of the group was obscure—though it was run by an aide to conservative megadonor Ron Lauder and had previously counted former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and incoming national security adviser John Bolton on its board of advisers.
But today, Open Secrets published an unredacted tax return that shows that much of the group’s funding came from Robert Mercer, a prominent backer of Trump’s campaign, his alt-right allies, and the various projects of Steve Bannon. Mercer gave the group $2 million in 2016. Another $2 million came from the 45Committee, a pro-Trump group that Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts had raised money for. Lauder gave $1.1 million and Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson and GOP mega-donor Foster Friess gave smaller amounts.
As Bloomberg previously reported, representatives of Google and Facebook worked with the organization and its ad team to target the ads to swing voters.
The Mercer-funded Breitbart News, which Bannon had left to run the Trump campaign and then work in the Trump White House, promoted both the French and German versions of Secure America Now’s ad.
Secure America Now’s ads bear some similarities to a 2007 film pitch from Bannon for a movie that “envisioned radical Muslims taking over the country and remaking it into the ‘Islamic States of America.’”