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While U.S. Representative Paul Gosar’s (R-AZ) appearance at Nick Fuentes’ white nationalist AFPAC II conference drew national press attention, another attendee from the Trump-orbit also caught the attention of IREHR researchers. Matt Braynard, the Executive Director of Look Ahead America (LAA) and a onetime director of data and strategy for the 2016 Trump campaign, was notable in the conference hall because he brought technical skills “groypers” desire in their quest to advance white nationalism electorally.

The America First Foundation (AFF), Fuente’s recently-formed vehicle for extending the “groyper” cause, announced in a grandiose fashion that Braynard had “made history as a featured exhibitor” at AFPAC II.[1]

Braynard is one among many Trump campaign staffers laid off in March 2016 as the campaign appeared to be in disarray.[2] LAA Strategy Director Witold Chrabaszcz directed the campaign’s data and strategy efforts after Braynard’s departure. According to the New York Times, in 2017, LAA’s board was comprised of “30 former [Trump] campaign field staffers and state coordinators.”[3] LAA claims to currently be led by “nearly forty former Trump for President Campaign staffers.”[4]

Look Ahead America’s Matt Braynard

At present, these claims are difficult to substantiate. After being granted tax-exempt status in 2017, Look Ahead America was placed on the Internal Revenue Service’s Auto-Revocation list in August 2020 “for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years.”[5] Braynard claimed he is engaged in restarting the organization.[6]

Look Ahead America formed in 2017 to pull in and mobilize infrequent voters as well as to find evidence of alleged voter fraud.[7] In the group’s words, it aims to “Register, Educate, Turnout to Vote” these voters through “event tabling, direct mail, telephone, and digital outreach” as well as through “digital and direct mail voter guides, email newsletters, and door-to-door canvassing.” According to FiveThirtyEight, the strategy emerged during Braynard’s time with the Trump data team when the campaign targeted people who “rarely participate in GOP primary elections.”[8] LAA also claims to “train and provide guidance and organization to citizens to lobby their state legislatures and local governments on America First initiatives.”[9]

Another Braynard entity, External Affairs Inc, is operated from the same Washington D.C. address as Looking Ahead America. External Affairs claims that it possesses a “comprehensive dataset for all 186,775,224 registered voters in 111,195,511 households in the United States” to deploy on behalf of candidates and causes.[10]

LAA also claims that “The Voter Integrity Project” was “started by Matt Braynard in the aftermath of the 2020 Election” and that the LAA will “continue to investigate illegal ballots cast in 2020 and fight for reform to ensure honest elections” – the general language used at CPAC to frame ongoing conservative movement voter suppression efforts.[11]

The Raleigh, North Carolina Voter Integrity Project, a 501c3 that took in less than $50,000 in 2020, rejects Braynard’s claim, “We love how he’s advancing our cause, but a little miffed that he doesn’t stop journalists from (incorrectly) calling him the ‘founder’ of Voter Integrity Project.”[12]

None of this kept Braynard from raising nearly $700,000 for a Voter Integrity Project run under the auspices of External Affairs Inc. Braynard later informed donors that the money had not all been spent and could be returned upon request.  Any not claimed, he explained, would go into Look Ahead America coffers.[13]

Braynard has also entered the fray to undermine the 2020 electoral results in swing states, testifying as an expert witness in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona.[14] In a to-the-point critique of Braynard’s “analysis” of the Georgia election, Stephen Ansolabehere, the Frank G. Thompson Professor of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge and former Board of Overseers member of the American National Election Study, wrote,

“None of these claims meets scientific standards of my fields of research, including survey research, political science, statistics and data sciences. There is no scientific basis for drawing any inferences or conclusions from the data presented. None of the estimates are presented with statistical measures that meet standards for evaluating evidence.”[15]

Just days before CPAC 2021, Braynard trained attendees at a Leadership Institute event on how to lobby state and local governments against using voting machines, such as Dominion Voting Systems – a frequent target of Stop the Steal propaganda.[16] One attendee at the Leadership Institute event was U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the far-rightist who has defended having the racist and misogynist Proud Boys perform security at one of his events.[17]

Look Ahead America was also a sponsor of the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, the conservative movement’s annual showcase event.[18]

While at CPAC, Rep. Gaetz had his brush with Nick Fuentes’ crowd, taking the time for a photo op with AFPAC II attendee “speckzo.”[19]

AFPAC II attendee “Speckzo” with Nick Fuentes (left), “Speckzo” with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) (right)

Matt Braynard’s Road to AFPAC

Matt Braynard’s attendance at AFPAC II was no accident, the LAA leader having his history in the world of far-right and nationalist politics.  Claiming to have been a field coordinator for paleoconservative Patrick Buchanan’s 1996 Presidential bid, Braynard’s targeted voter operations appear to have been inspired, at least in part, by the ideas of this long-standing practitioner of a racialized nationalist politics:

“These are voters who do not think ISIS can be defeated with hashtags and do not think that the solution to BLM [Black Lives Matter] murdering cops is for cops to do a better job listening…Pat Buchanan, I think, accurately described these people as conservatives of the heart — these are law and order people who are rich in the wisdom of the Old Testament.”[20]

Paleoconservatism is also a source of inspiration for Nick Fuentes’ “groypers,” and Buchanan’s book The Death of the West was standard reading at early meetings of the racist and misogynist Proud Boys.[21] Paleoconservative leanings are not, however, Braynard’s only brush with the world of groyper-dom.  A Harlem World article described Braynard’s  encounter with an unnamed teen at Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration:

“The chance encounter was a rare in-real-life meeting of veterans of the Great Meme War. That’s the grandiose name given—only half ironically—to the decentralized efforts of a swarm of anonymous internet nerds to harass Trump’s detractors and flood the Web with pro-Trump, anti-Hillary Clinton propaganda. Their weapons of choice were memes, bits of reproducible culture whose most recognizable form is shareable internet photos…with captions meant to be funny. Braynard showed me a badge he ordered online to memorialize his service in the Great Meme War. It features Pepe the Frog—a cartoon symbol of mischievous fun or racist hatred, depending on whom you ask—and the name of his make-believe battalion, ‘The 1st Deplorables.’”[22]

Pepe the Frog is a meme appropriated by white nationalist and far-right reactionaries alike during the “alt-right” phase of white nationalist mainstreaming strategy. “Groyper” is a frog meme adapted from Pepe by Nick Fuentes and his cadres.

Beyond taking a “conservative stance” on issues such as “‘sanctuary cities,’ illegal immigration, refugee resettlements, and gun rights,” Braynard also appears to have a place in his heart for the murder of leftists.[23]

As reported in Mother Jones, in 2017, Braynard founded a “Literary Journal of the New Nationalism” titled Otoya, a name chosen to honor Otoya Yamaguchi, whose image appears on an inaugural issue still sold by Look Ahead America. In 1960, the far-right nationalist Yamaguchi stabbed the Japan Socialist Party’s chair to death with a sword at a televised debate.[24]

In 2018 Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes would re-enact Otoya Yamaguchi’s infamous assassination at an event hosted by the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City. Following this troubling display, Proud Boys would attack anti-fascists in an incident that would see two of them eventually convicted on charges of attempted gang assault, attempted assault, and riot.[25]

Similarly, Look Ahead America claims to have recently “Uncancelled Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene,” the Qanon-conspiracy backing U.S. Representative from Georgia noted for showing support on social media in 2018 and 2019 for the execution of prominent Democrats.[26]

Look Ahead America described hosting an event at which Taylor Greene “gave the best speech of CPAC to a packed room despite the CPAC app’s event description mysteriously deleting mention of her attendance the day of the event.”[27] The event was co-hosted by Jack Posobiec, according to Braynard.[28] Posbiec has his own history of working with white nationalists, something he now shares with Braynard.

Matt Braynard’s appearance at the white nationalist event demonstrates the potential doors opened for white nationalists into the world of electoral politics in the post-2020 election context.





[1] America First Foundation. Press Release. February 27, 2021.

[2] Look Ahead America. Leadership. Accessed March 3, 2021; Vogel, Kenneth P. Trump campaign in disarray. Politico. April 5, 2016.

[3] Vogel, Kenneth P. Ex-Trump Aides Hunter for Untapped Voters, and Proof of Fraud. New York Times. August 16, 2017.; Innovation Enterprise Channels. The Trump Campaign’s Unconventional Approach to Data. No Date Listed. Accessed March 8, 20201.

[4] Look Ahead America. Leadership. Accessed March 10, 2021.

[5] Internal Revenue Service. Look Ahead American Inc.,%20REVOCATION&orgTags=DETERMINATIONLETTERS&orgTags=REVOCATION. Accessed March 3, 2021.

[6] Markay, Lachlan. Conservatives use new tack to target voting machines. Axios. February 24, 2021.

[7] Vogel, Kenneth P. Ex-Trump Aides Hunter for Untapped Voters, and Proof of Fraud. New York Times. August 16, 2017.

[8] Malone, Clare. Trump’s Campaign Focused on Attracting ‘Unlikely’ Voters, A Memo Shows. FiveThirtyEight. August 5, 2016.

[9] Look Ahead America. Our Mission. Accessed March 10, 2021.

[10] External Affairs. Accessed March 10, 2021; Macri, Giuseppe. Trump Campaign Relied Heavily On Former Obama Analytics Team. Inside Sources. July 19, 2016.

[11] Look Ahead America. Our Mission. Accessed March 10, 2021.

[12] Voter Integrity Project. About. Accessed March 5, 2021; Look Ahead America. Leadership. Accessed March 3, 2021; Internal Revenue Service. Voter Integrity Project. Accessed March 11, 2021.

[13] Voter Integrity Project. Give Send Go. External Affairs Inc. Accessed March 10, 2021; Braynard, Matt. Telegram. January 12, 2021.

[14] Corn, David. A Trump Voting “Expert” Was Questioned About His Data. It Did Not Go Well For Him. Mother Jones. December 11, 2020.

[15]Stephen Ansolabehere. Response to Matthew Braynard Expert Report. Case 1:20-cv-04809-TCB Document 62-1 Filed December 5, 2020.

[16] Markay, Lachlan. Conservatives use new tack to target voting machines. Axios. February 24, 2021.

[17] Castor, Rebekah. ‘Proud Boys’ provide security at pro-America rally in Milton. 3WEARTV. October 23, 2020.

[18] Conservative Political Action Conference. Sponsors. CPAC 2021 Sponsors. Accessed February 22, 2021.

[19] Speckzo. Telegram. February 27, 2021.

[20] Malone, Clare. Trump’s Campaign Focused on Attracting ‘Unlikely’ Voters, A Memo Shows. FiveThirtyEight. August 5, 2016.; Look Ahead America. Leadership. Accessed March 3, 2021.

[21] McInnes, Gavin. Introducing the Proud Boys. Taki’s Magazine. September 15, 2016.

[22] Harlem World Magazine. Matt Braynard, Donald Trump Former Director of Technology At Home in Harlem. Harlem World. March 5, 2017.

[23] Vozzella, Laura. Trump campaign aides trying to prod ‘patriotic’ Virginians to the polls. Washington Post. October 28, 2017.

[24] Look Ahead America. Accessed March 10, 2021; Corn, David. Former Trump Aide Challenging Vote Count Praised a Right-Wing Assassin. Mother Jones. November 13, 2020.

[25] Moynihan, Colin. Two Members of Proud Boys Convicted in Brawl Near Republican Club. New York Times. August 19, 2019.

[26] Steck, Em and Andrew Kaczynski. Marjorie Taylor Greene indicated support for executing prominent Democrats in 2018 and 2019 before running for Congress. CCN Politics. January 26, 2021.

[27] Look Ahead America. LAA Declares TOTAL VICTORY at CPAC 2021. February 28, 2021.

[28] Braynard, Matt. Twitter. February 27, 2021.

Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

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