Fake News Group Behind Deceptive TV Ad Funded By Dem Megadonor Reid Hoffman

Piedmont Rising faced scrutiny for campaign ads designed to look like news broadcasts

June 5, 2023

The group behind one of the most controversial campaign ads of the 2020 cycle was funded by the liberal billionaire Reid Hoffman, according to tax forms.

Hoffman, one of the Democratic Party’s largest donors, gave $500,000 in 2020 to an organization called Piedmont Rising, according to previously unreported tax filings from Hoffman’s nonprofit, America Future Republic. Piedmont Rising faced scrutiny in 2020 for running deceptive TV ads against Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) designed to look like a "breaking news" report on Tillis’s stance on Medicare. Tillis’s campaign said the ad misrepresented his stance on Medicare, and a local news station rated the ad "deceptive." Piedmont also embraced an emerging trend among liberal advocacy groups by launching a website designed to look like a legitimate local news outlet.

It marks a pattern for Hoffman, an associate of notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who has funded several initiatives accused of political chicanery. In 2017, the Democratic megadonor contributed $100,000 to American Engagement Technologies, a tech firm that created fake social media personas during the 2017 Alabama special election to dissuade conservatives from voting. Hoffman apologized for backing the company but denied knowledge of the tech firm's tactics.

In 2020, Piedmont Rising launched the North Carolina Examiner, a website designed to look like a mainstream local news outlet. Piedmont spent $118,000 on Facebook ads that portrayed the North Carolina Examiner as a news website, OpenSecrets reported. Piedmont was criticized during the North Carolina Senate race in 2020 for airing campaign ads against Tillis, the Republican incumbent, that were designed to look like legitimate news broadcasts. North Carolina news station WRAL called the ad "deceptive," and a Piedmont advisory board member resigned his position after the ad and said he was "not comfortable with that kind of tactic."

Piedmont Rising and Hoffman’s companies did not respond to requests for comment.

Hoffman gave $2 million to Integrity First for America, a liberal advocacy group that contributed $620,000 to the legal defense fund for Fusion GPS, the research firm behind the discredited Steele dossier accusing Donald Trump of conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

He also funded columnist E. Jean Carroll’s rape lawsuit against Donald Trump, according to court filings from the case this year. Hoffman, through American Future Republic, contributed $7 million in 2020 to the firm of Carroll’s lawyer, according to tax filings. Hoffman was the sole backer in 2018 of the Republican Women for Progress PAC, a misnomer of sorts given Hoffman’s exclusive support for Democrats.

Piedmont Rising’s tactics mirrored those of Acronym, a liberal dark money group that operates a network of sham local news websites that peddle pro-Democrat propaganda. Hoffman was an early backer of Acronym.

America Future Republic’s tax filings show Hoffman gave $21 million in grants to liberal groups in 2020. He donated $150,000 to Grab Your Wallet, a social media upstart that organized boycotts against companies and sports teams with supposed links to the Trump family.