On the evening of January 6, 2021, Brad Parscale texted Donald Trump adviser Katrina Pierson about the insurrectionist assault on the US Capitol that had finally been quashed by police. “This is about [T]rump pushing for uncertainty in our country,” wrote Parscale, who ran digital and data operations for Trump’s 2016 campaign and managed his 2020 reelection effort before being replaced. “A sitting president asking for civil war. This week I feel guilty for helping him win.”
“You did what you felt right at the time and therefore it was right,” Pierson replied.
“Yeah,” Parscale answered, “but a woman is dead.” The conversation continued, with Pierson texting, “You do realize this was going to happen.” Parscale responded that Trump’s rhetoric had “killed someone.” Pierson countered, “It wasn’t the rhetoric.”
Parscale didn’t buy that, telling Pierson, “Katrina. Yes it was.” Parscale was obviously blaming Trump for the storming of the Capitol and the death of Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt. In these private texts—which were not made public until mid-2022 during the House investigation of January 6—Parscale’s regret over his own role in making Trump president is clear.
But that regret isn’t getting in the way of Parscale’s desire to make a buck. Since the start of 2023, Parscale has raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars providing services to Trump’s 2024 campaign with a company that boasts it uses artificial intelligence to assist conservative candidates.
2020 was not a great year for Parscale. That July, he was demoted from his post as Trump’s campaign manager, though he was kept on as an adviser for data and digital operations. Two months later, he made national news when police were called to his Florida home, and his wife reported that he was screaming, behaving erratically, waving a loaded and cocked gun, and threatening to kill himself. SWAT team officers tackled him, and he was involuntarily committed.
After this episode, Parscale stepped down from the Trump campaign. He seemed done for. Yet months later, he was back in the game, reviving his political consulting firm, Parscale Strategy, and launching a start-up called Campaign Nucleus, which would provide assorted data and communications services to right-wing candidates.
According to Federal Election Committee records, Parscale Strategy has so far not brought in much revenue from federal political candidates or organizations—only $840 in total for working on a website for a super PAC called Jefferson Rising that hasn’t yet raised any money.
But Parscale’s Campaign Nucleus business has been cashing in on the Trump campaign. It has pocketed at least $385,000 in payments from Trump-related entities in 2023, through October. FEC filings show that the firm is collecting $20,000 a month from Trump’s election committee for fundraising software. It has also received $25,000 from Make America Great Again, Inc., the pro-Trump super PAC, for web hosting and email marketing. Campaign Nucleus pulled in an additional $180,000 for fundraising services from Trump Save America, a joint fundraising effort that benefits Trump’s official campaign committee and a Trump-run PAC. This is quite a haul for Parscale’s new company. Its only other major federal client is the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which paid the firm about $70,000 for list rentals.
Campaign Nucleus sells itself as enabling “seamless department and product integration for every department in your campaign and organization.” And it says it can offer “targeted email campaigns that speak directly to your audience’s interests and needs. Leverage our robust segmentation and personalization features to tailor your messages based on demographics, interests, and past engagement.” A 2022 press release described Campaign Nucleus as “an AI-based digital platform that provides center-right candidates, organizations and corporations a centralized ecosystem to not only curate actionable data, but also build political movements through accountability, analysis and action.” It added, “Parscale’s experience as a developer, marketer and political consultant has shaped Campaign Nucleus, which can help win elections and drive influence.”
Parscale’s quiet return to TrumpWorld has not been reported in stories about Trump’s current campaign. He was most recently in the news for working with a company named AiAdvertising that intends to use artificial intelligence for ad campaigns that target individuals with hyper-personalized messages. “I think there’s a lot of patriot companies who want an agency that’s a non-woke, Christian-based agency that wants to help grow their businesses,” Parscale told Texas Monthly in September. “I think AiAdvertising could be a leading company, delivering that service.”
To expand AiAdvertising, Parscale recruited as an investor Texas oil billionaire Tim Dunn, a right-wing Christian nationalist. Texas Monthly calls Dunn “arguably the most powerful financier of Texas Republican politics and…a major supporter of [far-right and impeached-but-not-convicted Texas Attorney General] Ken Paxton.” (Dunn did not reply to a request for comment.)
In 2022, Campaign Nucleus forged a “strategic relationship” with AiAdvertising to “leverage the Ai Ad Platform to provide persona-based dynamically created ads and creative content to Nucleus’ Customers,” according to an AiAdvertising press release. Parscale said at the time that this arrangement would yield “a revolutionary new eco-system which leverages artificial intelligence in marketing and advertising for both political and commercial use. Together, we provide the most innovative marketing and advertising solutions that will automate much of the efforts that have to be manually orchestrated during political elections and commercial advertising campaigns.”
Parscale has come a long way from when he first entered the Trump cosmos. In 2012, as a San Antonio-based website developer, he made a bid to design a site for the Trump Organization. He purposefully proposed a low estimate that might not be profitable. But that won him entry into the Trump world and eventually earned him hundreds of thousands of dollars in work in the coming years. In 2015, he built the website for Trump’s presidential campaign; he earned Jared Kushner’s favor and became the campaign’s digital director. Parscale had the campaign place a big bet on Facebook—it paid off—and according to former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski, $94 million in campaign money flowed through Parscale’s business. In the years after Trump entered the White House, Parscale Strategy earned tens of millions of dollars from the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. When he was manager of Trump’s 2020 campaign, Parscale pulled in $300,000 a year.
Parscale’s texts show that in the immediate aftermath of the January 6 riot, he was wrestling with his responsibility for helping Trump reach the presidency. But two years later, he was back on the Trump gravy train and assisting Trump’s restoration crusade. This time around, is Parscale merely a vendor for the Trump campaign and not part of its brain trust? As Trump has ramped up his authoritarian and divisive rhetoric—the sort of rhetoric that Parscale blamed for the attack on the Capitol—has Trump’s former digital guru returned to Trump’s inner circle?
Parscale did not respond to multiple email requests for comments. And the Trump campaign did not reply to a request for comment. Whatever his role, Parscale has gone from ruing the day he signed up with Trump to making big bucks helping the former president he once disparaged return to the White House.