Fact Check

Craigslist Ads Recruit Paid Protesters for Trump Rallies

Craigslist ads for legitimate canvassing jobs were mistaken by some conspiracists as seeking to recruit paid protesters to swarm Donald Trump rallies.

Published March 13, 2016

FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17:  Police fire tear gas at demonstrators protesting the shooting of Michael Brown after they refused to honor the midnight curfew on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The curfew was imposed on Saturday in an attempt to reign in the violence that has erupted nearly every night in the suburban St. Louis town since the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Ads on Craigslist sought to recruit paid protesters to swarm Donald Trump rallies.

On 11 March 2016, clashes between protesters and supporters in Chicago led to the cancellation of a scheduled rally for Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and shortly afterwards rumors appeared on social media holding that that the protesters were in fact paid operatives. For example, the unreliable web site All News Pipeline suggested that shadowy figures with big pockets (such as international business magnate George Soros) were trying to take Trump down using hired protesters:

Back in the beginning of January 2016, a very strange anti-Donald Trump ad showed up on the Austin, Texas Craigslist looking for 'troublemakers'. Submitted by a Chicago producer with a 'professional reputation', the ad was taken down soon after Infowars, Investment Watch Blog and several other websites publicized the advertisement. Not surprisingly, a new ad has recently sprung up, another anti-Trump and anti-Conservatives Craigslist ad that, coincidentally or not, showed up in the Chicago Craigslist days prior to the huge violent protest that recently took down a Donald Trump rally.

In fact, 'mobs for hire' are a very real phenomenon and big business in America and according to several we have visited online today, one can purchase a 'flash mob' for almost any occasion though this Forbes story tells us they are quite pricey. Could one purchase a mob for mass protests that might turn violent?

We also see absolute proof here that there are paid positions for those who seek to become involved in these rebellions, quite an incentive for college students and others who are unable to obtain employment in this rapidly collapsing economy ... Ever the tool of the globalists and specifically George Soros and his 'color revolutions' that have taken place around the world, we now have more proof that these 'rebellions' are being organized and designed by the very elitists themselves that the 'rebellion' seeks to 'rebel against'.

The claim wasn't the first time the name of George Soros was invoked in connection with the supposed secret funding of political unrest. A number of rumors pegged him as a moneyed agent provocateur behind a series of protests across the United States tied to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014, and paid-to-protest claims came to the forefront again in early 2016 with a piece from the (also notoriously unreliable) InfoWars web site that cited a Craigslist post (of questionable legitimacy) seeking "Troublemakers" to engage in a vague satirical effort to disrupt Donald Trump's presidential campaign:

An anonymous multimedia producer posted a Craigslist ad on January 1 soliciting "talented, creative, rational, intelligent, non-fear-mongering and educated media industry professionals or qualified entbusiasts (sic)" to help create a "stunt" aimed at presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

The producer wants to perpetuate an unspecified "Onion-class stunt" that "can easily be repeated (at least 5 times by my estimate) with increasing veracity and afford (sic) mentioned joy." Compensation is listed as "Millions of dollars worth of glee and, eventually, the admiration of a thankful nation." The Onion is a current events satire newspaper and website. Fictional articles featured mimic the tenor of actual news articles and include mention of real people and events. The Onion launched a satirical Youtube channel in 2012.

Similarly, All News Pipeline linked to a job posting on the Chicago Craigslist site published by an outfit called "Grassroots Campaigns" seeking Canvass Directors as proof of the existence of an organized professional protest plot against Trump's White House bid:

Grassroots is hiring smart, politically motivated people to come on board as Canvass Directors and Assistant Canvass Directors to launch and lead campaign offices all across the country. Take on enormous responsibility, while running the campaigns that make the difference!



Currently filling positions in MA, NY, PA, DC, NC, IL, LA, MO, TX IA, CO, WA, CA.

We're considering applicants for new campaigns in FL, MI, OH, NH, MN, WI, NM, and AZ, with training beginning immediately.

Other sources pointed to an early March 2016 Cleveland Craigslist job ad published by a similar organization, Working America, looking to hire field organizers as evidence that Trump opponents were actually recruiting paid rally disruptors:

Working America organizes crucial issue and electoral campaigns at the national, state and municipal level on behalf of working families. Our highly successful outreach models have raised the minimum wage in New Mexico, won a much needed earned sick day law for workers in Portland, OR and a new law preventing wage theft in Houston, TX was just passed unanimously by mobilizing members to pressure city council (to name a few).

Working America is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity. Women, LGBTQ and people of color encouraged to apply.Working America Policy States: The Employer agrees not to discriminate against any Employee because of his/her sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, color, age, disability, or national origin.

These ads were reproduced on multiple web sites as proof that organizations were trying to fabricate dissent at Trump rallies, all such claims hinging on nothing more than rank speculation that the ads themselves demonstrated the existence of an organized, professional, large-scale movement against Trump:

The Craigslist ad is the first sign indicating Soros and team are planning ahead to disrupt the GOP Convention this summer, especially if Trump is the nominee. Soros has a history of funding groups that encourage mob violence in order to gain attention.

Like Grassroots Campaigns, Working America is a recognized political organizing outfit and not a behind-the-scenes network aimed at disrupting Trump's political campaign via paid operatives.

The claims about a conspiracy to disrupt the Trump campaign lacked any real proof that such a campaign was actually afoot, much less that any figures such George Soros or Republican rival Ted Cruz were behind those efforts. Nearly all these claims pointed to the above-cited Craigslist ads as evidence, but all of those ads simply sought door-to-door canvassers during an election year; none of them
advertised positions as paid agitators or protesters.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.