#StopTheSteal protest website tied to extremist-linked activist’s digital marketing firm

Website directed people to event information,

#StopTheSteal protest website tied to extremist-linked activist’s digital marketing firm

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Website directed people to event information, collected user data and donations

Attorney Sidney Powell speaks at a “Stop the Steal” press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, December 2, 2020. Ali Alexander can be seen over Powell’s right shoulder. (Source: REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage)

Fringe conservative activist Ali Alexander’s digital marketing firm Vice and Victory hosts a website that that directed participants to event information for “Stop the Steal” rallies disputing President-Elect Joe Biden’s election victory. Alexander has appeared prominently at national protests, but his company has a record of unclear data practices, and Alexander (who formerly called himself Ali Akbar) maintains connections to extremist figures.

Protests premised on baseless claims of alleged voter fraud and irregularities were to blame for President Donald Trump’s electoral defeat have rocked state capitol buildings and election centers at a regular pace since the November 3 election. These so-called “Stop the Steal” rallies have often attracted far-right elements, including militia movement groups, pro-civil war “Boogaloo” supporters, violence-prone Proud Boys members, white nationalist activists, and conspiracy theory driven extremists. A handful of far-right figures, including white nationalist podcaster Nicholas Fuentes and conspiracy theorist broadcaster Alex Jones, have received top billing at a handful of Stop the Steal protests. Other events have featured speakers who are notorious for creating and spreading disinformation online.

Alexander has frequently sympathized and promoted extremist right-wing political figures, particularly those who espouse conspiratorial and racist beliefs. In 2017, Alexander hosted and praised Unite the Right white supremacist march attendee Matthew Colligan on a livestreamed podcast during which Colligan raised a Nazi flag. The Observer reported in 2018 that Alexander at the time had “made it a habit to note members of the media who are Jewish” when criticizing them. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal in 2019, Alexander said he met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and advised him against banning Jones from its platform after many other tech platforms had removed the conspiracy theory monger for violating community guidelines.

Both run-of-the-mill conservative Facebook groups and far-right internet communities directed people interested in joining Stop the Steal protests to the same website: “stopthesteal.us.” Domain registration data for the Stop the Steal website lists its host as Vice and Victory, the digital marketing firm run by Alexander. Mother Jones reported in November that visitors who clicked the site’s donation button were directed to “one of several cryptocurrency addresses associated with [Alexander], or given links to his Paypal, CashApp, and Amazon wishlist.” (Since the publication of Mother Jones’ article, the donation button was updated to instead send visitors to a DonorBox form.)

Alexander’s LinkedIn profile page lists himself as the current CEO of Vice and Victory Ventures, Inc., and the former vice president of digital strategy at Vice and Victory Agency LLC. Texas’s business entity registry shows that Lydia Dews, a Texas attorney who Alexander identified in a 2015 Facebook post as his mother, registered Vice and Victory Agency LLC in 2011. (The company’s registration in Texas is no longer active.)

Texas business entity records show Vice and Victory was originally registered to a woman who Ali Alexander identified as his mother in a 2015 Facebook post. (Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts)

In Delaware’s business entity registry, both companies — Vice and Victory Ventures, Inc. and Vice and Victory Agency, LLC — appear listed, although it is unclear if they are still active.

Using DomainTools, the DFRLab found that Alexander’s own Vice and Victory email address (ali@viceandvictory.com) and another company email address (v@viceandvictory.com) appeared in the domain registration data in a combined 190 websites at the time of publication, many of which are no longer active. The company’s Instagram profile is followed by just eight accounts, three of which appear to belong to Alexander and one of which is that of wealthy businessman and Republican Party donor Sean McCutcheon.

Vice and Victory’s Instagram account follows just eight other accounts, three of which appear to be operated by Ali Alexander. (Source: Instagram)

Vice and Victory’s domain history can be understood as a proxy for Alexander, providing a timeline of his political and media endeavors, dating back nearly a decade. Although many of the company’s websites are no longer active, the site URLs show a career that began in Southern state politics and proceeded to cycle through several short-lived organizing efforts. Several websites paid homage to late conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart and others heralded Tea Party-era Republican politicians. Many focused on Black identity, including “blacksfortrump.com” and “blacklivesmatterwatch.org,” and some appear to be financial blogs.

Some of Alexander’s prior endeavors have been alleged to be connected to shady data collection operations. Alexander was a lead operator of an organization called National Blogger’s Club — Vice and Victory hosted “bloggersclub.org” — and the organization quickly came under fire for its lack of transparency and its ties to Republican super PACs. Crooks and Liars reported that National Blogger’s Club had required “an unusual amount of personal information from donors” and had not properly registered as a nonprofit, despite its claims to operate as one.

It does not appear much of Alexander’s operational behavior had changed; as recently as 2019, he participated in a “philanthropic” effort that other conservative figures accused of being a sleazy digital marketing scheme. Given that history, the fact that the Stop the Steal site encourages visitors to input their contact information and to sign up for SMS text message updates could be cause for concern.

When Alexander first discussed launching the Stop the Steal effort in September, he stated his intentions to create a digital database of contact information that could be used to dispatch conservatives to polling places, vote-counting locations, and court hearings. Alexander was involved in a similar effort in Broward County, Florida, in 2018 and made clear at the time that he was willing to recruit extremists to the cause.

The phrase “Stop the Steal” can be sourced to a 2016 campaign led by Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone to dispute vote counts in urban areas with multiracial communities, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in November. Alexander is a close associate of Stone.

Jared Holt is Visiting Research Fellow with the Digital Forensic Research Lab.

Follow along for more in-depth analysis from our #DigitalSherlocks.