The chairman of one of the groups behind Michigan’s protest on Thursday, the Michigan Freedom Fund, is Greg McNeilly, a close longtime associate of the education secretary, Betsy DeVos. Mr. McNeilly has denied any involvement by Ms. DeVos or others in her family, which has long financed conservative causes in Michigan.
Others organizing protests have been open about the involvement of outside donors.
Speaking on a YouTube program called “Freedom on Tap,” the Trump-allied economics commentator Stephen Moore said he was “working with a group in Wisconsin that wants to do a drive-in,” which he equated to the sit-ins of the civil rights era, only this time in protest of the restrictions put in place by Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat. “We need to be the Rosa Parks here,” Mr. Moore said, “and protest these government injustices.”
Speaking of the planned Wisconsin rally, he said that he had “one big donor in Wisconsin” who had told him “‘Steve, I promise, I will pay the bail and legal fees of anyone who gets arrested.’”
“So this is to be a great time, gentlemen and ladies, for civil disobedience,” he said.
Mr. Moore serves on Mr. Trump’s coronavirus economic advisory group and has helped start another group urging a faster reopening of the economy, called Save Our Country.
Mr. Trump had briefly considered Mr. Moore last year for a seat on the Federal Reserve board, but Mr. Moore’s past comments about women, including that they should not earn more than men, drew criticism. After some Republican lawmakers expressed reservations, the president said he would not nominate Mr. Moore for the post.
The audience for the “Freedom on Tap” program in which he appeared had only registered 310 views as of Friday, but the video was spotted and shared with The New York Times by True North Research, a progressive group.