On March 19, Donald Trump Jr. sent an email via the firm that manages his father’s email list, Campaign Nucleus, announcing “a HUGE advance in the culture war.” That culture war, Trump wrote, is “coming to corporate America.” He added that conservatives have a “new” tool to fight back against “woke” workplaces: the “free to work” job board RedBalloon. As an incentive to create an account on the website, Trump offered 20 autographed copies of his latest book, Triggered.
“The big job boards like Indeed and ZipRecruiter are actually promoting ‘woke’ workplace policies,” Trump said in a promotional video posted on the right-wing video streaming site Rumble. “They’re a huge part of the problem.” Exactly what the problem is, or what the word “woke” is supposed to stand for other than a conservative shibboleth, is unclear.
Standing next to the eldest son of the recently indicted former president in the RedBalloon advertisement is the company’s unfortunately named founder, Andrew Crapuchettes. RedBalloon’s origin story goes back to 2021, when Crapuchettes claims he was fired from his role as CEO at his former company, EMSI, for being “too conservative and Christian.”
RedBalloon’s explicitly “anti-woke” positioning fits within a broader conservative push in recent years to create a “parallel economy” apart from progressive values. The idea has been promoted by the junior Trump and far-right pundits like Charlie Kirk of Turning Points USA. And while a parallel right-wing ecosystem of media outlets has gained some traction, other anti-woke projects haven’t fared so well. Consider the Peter Theil-funded bank that faced self-cancellation, or the fact that right-wing Twitter alternative Parler is down to around 20 employees. As NBC News reported last month, conservative tech founders at the most recent Conservative Political Action Conference “said they believe some companies that were part of the ‘parallel economy’ movement got ahead of themselves in their aspirations.”
‘An Unapologetic Conservative Christian’
The particular nature of Crapuchettes’ Christian faith is something that may give pause to fans of the separation of church and state. In November 2021, The Guardian reported Crapuchettes as an elder of the Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho—a church that is led by a man who has “openly expressed the ambition of creating a ‘theocracy’ in America.”
“When I ran the company, I believed that everybody should bring their whole self to work,” Crapuchettes says when asked about his faith. “And as an unapologetic conservative Christian, that means that when we’re having our annual Christmas dinner, I’m going to pray for the meal.”
Regarding Crapuchettes’ role as an elder of a church that promotes Christian theocracy, he says it was “never brought up” as a conflict by his former board of directors.
“Was it an underlying issue? I have no idea,” Crapuchettes says.
Crapuchettes says the issues with his former employer started when he and the EMSI board of directors butted heads over various social issues. “The Covid-BLM-George Floyd social shift happened,” Crapuchettes says. “We came to a head on a number of things, and they ended up selling the business.”
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