Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones helped jumpstart the organization efforts that eventually materialized into the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, according to the grassroots organizer who filed the permits.
Cindy Chafian, who said she submitted the permits to the National Park Service, told CNN that Jones had reached out to her “to make sure he was able to speak at an event that he had contributed to.”
She said she had originally submitted the permits while working for Women for America First. The group was founded by Amy Kremer, who previously worked as an executive of the conservative group Tea Party Express, and her daughter Kylie Jane Kremer.
Chafian said that because the Kremers became unresponsive and non-committal, she embarked on her own in organizing a January 6 event and eventually teamed up with Jones.
“He agreed to pay for a percentage of the event and I was to try and find someone to help with the funding gap,” Chafian said of her agreement with Jones. “He connected me with Caroline M. Wren because there was somebody that she knew who wanted to help contribute to the event.”
The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed rally organizers, reported that donor was Publix heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli, who ended up giving $300,000 for the “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse near the White House. Fancelli’s donation, they went on to report, was arranged by Jones and made up the majority of the $500,000 it cost to hold the rally on January 6.
Jones, the Journal reported citing a funding document, offered upwards of $50,000 of his own money for a “top speaking slot of his choice.”
Despite being banned from many social media platforms for spreading conspiracy theories, the new revelations show that Jones maintains significant ties to the influential people within the Republican Party.
Chafian would not comment more to CNN on Jones’ offer and did not confirm Fancelli’s donation to the “Stop the Steal” organizers. CNN has reached out to Women for America First and Fancelli for comment but did not receive a response.
“Like many Americans, Mr. Jones peacefully assembled to register his concerns about the 2020 election,” Norm Pattis, Jones’ attorney told CNN in a statement. “He deplores the violence that took place.”
Pattis did not respond to questions from CNN about Jones’ involvement in the early planning, or leveraging his connections to Wren and Fancelli in the initial organizing of the January 6 rally.
As more information comes to light about the funding, and origins, of the January 6 rally, the investigation into whether the riot and insurrection was pre-planned continues. At least 175 people are facing riot-related charges. In a press call earlier this week, the Department of Justice told reporters it had identified over 400 subjects in its investigations.
Although the January 6 rally at the Ellipse was peaceful, and no organizers have been accused of wrongdoing, former President Donald Trump’s speech is under scrutiny for potentially inciting the riot.
Trump reelection deputy finance chair became central to rally planning
On Jones’ urging, Chafian did reach out to Wren on December 27. Wren, a GOP fundraiser and a finance official for Trump’s reelection campaign, also served as a deputy to Kimberly Guilfoyle at a RNC-Trump campaign joint fundraising committee, according to ProPublica.
Although Wren is only listed as a “VIP advisor” in the final permit application, Chafian identified her as the sole figure who commandeered planning for the rally from her. ProPublica obtained a guidance memo it said was given to VIP attendees – CNN could not independently confirm it – that listed her as one of the sole points of contact for the rally.
Wren is part of the myriad of people from Trump’s world who helped organize the rally. Justin Caporale, who ProPublica described as a former top aide to then-first lady Melania Trump, also took part in the rally planning, Chafian said.
Four days after touching base with Wren, Chafian said she had been completely removed from the rally planning process.
When she questioned Wren as to why she was being removed, Chafian said she was told, “You didn’t think we would let a nobody with an organization no one has ever heard of plan an event for the President did you?”
“My role for the event on January 6th was to assist many others in providing and arranging for a professionally produced event at The Ellipse,” Wren told CNN in a statement. “Like all good Americans, I was shocked and horrified by the violence at the Capitol on January 6th and wholeheartedly condemn the illegal actions by those individuals.”
Chafian said that because she had filed the permit under an email address she used while working for the Kremers’ Women for America First organization, the permit was ultimately given to the group for January 6 rally.
Even though she was removed from the planning process, Chafian said she continued planning and held an event with Jones, but was forced to move its date to January 5. Chafian said she has not been contacted by the FBI.