A feature went up today on The Daily Beast alleging that Palmer Lucky, a Silicon Valley tech billionaire, is the money man behind a political group dedicated to electing Trump and bringing down Hillary Clinton with…yes, Internet memes.
The full story is worth reading, so please do that, but here are the basics you need to know:
Luckey is the 24-year-old former owner of Oculus, the famous virtual reality company. He sold out to Facebook two years ago for $2 billion, and is filthy, filthy rich. For the purposes of this political enterprise, he goes by the name “NimbleRichMan” on Reddit.
“Nimble America” is classificed as a “social welfare 501©4 non-profit,” which you can read about at the IRS’ website, but which basically means they can’t turn a profit for any individuals, at all, and have to be organized “to further the common good and general welfare of the people,” which is a huge stretch for a group that primarily makes shitty Internet memes.
Which is what they do: Their stated goal, as you see here, is to show that “shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real.” They do it via buying Facebook ads and billboards, mostly. They also really hate Hillary Clinton and want Donald Trump to be president. Here’s the kind of shit they write on Reddit:
“We conquered Reddit and drive narrative on social media, conquered the [mainstream media], now it’s time to get our most delicious memes in front of Americans whether they like it or not.”
Glad you asked. Here’s Luckey bloviating in another Reddit post:
“The American Revolution was funded by wealthy individuals. The same has been true of many movements for freedom in history. You can’t fight the American elite without serious firepower. They will outspend you and destroy you by any and all means.”
Oh, a bunch of people! Like self-aggrandizing alt-right poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos!
Luckey first met the alt-right provocateur in Los Angeles about a year and a half ago, before Yiannopoulos began working on a charity to send white men to college…“I came into touch with them over Facebook,” Luckey said of the band of trolls behind the operation. “It went along the lines of ‘hey, I have a bunch of money. I would love to see more of this stuff.’ They wanted to build buzz and do fundraising.”
And moderators from the Trump Reddit page, where they raised funds (or tried to, before they pissed everyone off and triggered conspiracy theories about it being a secret Clinton op…yeah, seriously)!
Along with Luckey, Nimble America was founded by two moderators of Reddit’s r/The_Donald, which helped popularize Trump-themed white supremacist and anti-Semitic memes along with 4Chan and 8Chan. A questionnaire to become a moderator at r/The_Donald posted in March had applicants answer the questions “Is there a difference between white nationalism and white supremacy?” and “Was 9/11 an inside job?”
In short, they’ve raised $11,000 in launch money, which has mostly gone to lawyers. They’ve also attempted to incorporate, and have apparently spent almost $10,000 for “Facebook ads, billboards and ‘website ops.’” And although it hasn’t been confirmed, Luckey says they got a digital billboard up in Pittsburgh. Here’s a picture of it, allegedly, from their Facebook page:
“Too Big to Jail”—sick burn. Other leaders say they’re trying to secure billboard space near Hofstra University, the site of Monday’s first debate.
So says an expert:
Federal tax law permits 501©(4) organizations to spend money advocating the election or defeat of candidates, so long as such activity isn’t the 501©(4) organization’s “primary” activity. And for any group that DOES have candidate advocacy as its primary activity, the appropriate tax exempt status is under Section 527 of the tax code.
Which means, apparently, that they have to do some other, non-Trump shit. No word yet on what that other shit might be.
Oh hell yeah:
“I’m not going to keep throwing money after something if I don’t see any results,” Luckey said after suggesting that the fundraising push was not a good idea. “I think these guys are pretty legit. The sums of money are so small, I don’t think they’re out to scam anybody. If they disappear with the money, I wouldn’t throw any more money at them.”
For the record, though, he did say he was having a “jolly good time.”
So, there you have it: A billionaire interfering in elections. In other words, American politics as usual, but with a creepy Internet element this time. As they say on Reddit, what a time to be alive!