- The “currency bomb” strategy reported by the Trump campaign has puzzled and shocked experts.
- An investigation by the New York Times detailed how supporters were tricked into making regular donations.
- It is not clear whether the behavior reported by the New York Times is illegal.
- Check out more stories on Insider’s business page.
Elderly donors who donated hundreds of dollars to the campaign of former President Donald Trump were shocked to see thousands of people drain from their accounts. In the final months of the campaign, requests for refunds surged. The ensuing surge in Trump-related credit card fraud claims has attracted the attention of America̵
An investigation published by the New York Times on Saturday detailed a regular donation program, allegedly called a “money bomb,” which was provided by the Trump campaign through the Republican fundraising platform WinRed in the final months of the campaign. Funds.
These strategies include adding a pre-checked recurring donation box at the bottom of fundraising emails, and a recurring donation system that opts out instead of opt-in. As time approaches the election, regular donations have changed from monthly to weekly. The exquisite printing of these bright yellow donation boxes became smaller and more confusing, causing donors, including many older donors, to unknowingly sign donation agreements.
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Asking for regular donations is also a common practice in Democratic campaigns and non-profit organizations, but the Trump campaign method particularly shocked many experts.
“The group has always done this in a non-toxic way. Of course, as Trump, Trump has done it in the wrong direction 72 million times. It started to look like a fraud.” The politics and ethics of organizing the “common cause” are told to insiders.
According to The Times, the money is basically an “interest-free loan” provided by Trump donors to his campaign, which faced turmoil and financial turmoil in the months leading up to the November 3 election. turmoil. “The Times” said that in the end, by 2020, tens of millions of dollars in donations have been refunded, and WinRed will collect transaction fees.
Brad Parscale, Trump’s former campaign manager, booked a TV ad worth nearly $200 million and hoped that the surge in last-minute donations would make up for this cost. This is a wrong move. “Re-election work.” It was broken in early October,” Insider’s Tom LoBianco reported that the Republican Party was close to Trump’s campaign.
The Trump campaign’s regular donation strategy has both confused and shocked the most experienced campaign finance professionals interviewed by The Insider.
The planned “complete deprivation”
For the past 21 years, the Democratic Party’s 21st Century Chairman Fred Wertheimer has been the leader of Congress and the courts in the struggle for key campaign finance and moral reforms. He told insiders that he had “never seen anything like this.”
Wertheimer said: “I have never seen anyone do what the Trump campaign did.” He added that the Trump campaign’s behavior constituted abuse of the elderly and was in an acceptable fundraising. The “lowest level” of the strategy.
He added: “This is a complete plunder. They know exactly what they are doing.” “They know they are tricking people into signing what they think is a donation, when they actually signed it. Multiple donations. Then when they were caught, they returned the money. It was like a bank robber was caught and said, “Oh, well, I returned the money. “
The highly unusual aspect of Trump’s campaign method is also reflected in the astonishing refund rate. Presidential campaigns, especially large-scale campaigns, usually refund some donors who have unknowingly abandon the legal limit, a large number of refund requests and a large number of refund problems have been plagued by a large number of refund requests. Experts and insiders.
According to The Times, the Trump campaign returned a total of $122 million in online donations, including 10.7% of donations raised through WinRed. In contrast, President Joe Biden returned $21 million in online donations and 2.2% of donations through ActBlue.
“I’ve been here for almost six years, and I can’t think of things like this. People don’t know they’re making constant contributions,” said Jordan Libowitz, Washington’s director of ethics and responsible citizenship communications, telling Insider “Repaying 10% of the donation is a huge, unbelievable amount.”
In a lengthy Monday statement issued by Trump through his “Save America” PAC, Trump denied the main claim of the article, saying that Trump campaigns always return donations immediately upon request and are formally disputed through credit. The donation rate is less than 1% for card companies. He also criticized the “Times” report, calling it a “completely misleading, unilaterally popular article” and continued to baselessly claim that it was stolen in the 2020 election.
The law does not always consider every new means of campaign financing
Experts interviewed by The Times and The Insider agreed that the Trump campaign and WinRed’s actions violated the code of ethics, especially for older donors who said they were deceived. But it is not clear whether their strategy contradicts campaign financing or consumer protection laws.
Libowitz said: “This is not a common phenomenon that we have seen before.” “This may be a matter without many regulations, just because the law is a problem.”
Rotman of Common Cause said that the revelations about Trump’s campaign provide an excellent opportunity for agencies such as the Federal Election Commission and members of Congress to re-enact regulations and standards for updated online donations.
Rotman said when talking about the tactics of the Trump camp: “This is not a real fraud, but a potential scam.” “You are talking about deception, and anti-deception laws and ordinances are needed. You can pass clearer To do this with the guidance and execution of the company. It’s not so easy to make people less mysterious about the money paid and how often.”
Democratic overseer, public citizen’s campaign finance and moral lobbyist Craig Holman (Craig Holman) told The Insider that the federal campaign finance law and the U.S. Internal Revenue Code mainly prohibit the solicitation of campaign donations beyond legal limits, not necessarily This is the strategy used in these tenders.
Holman said: “I have never seen a fundraising activity for candidates and party committees like this before, but the laws and regulations regarding solicitation activities are very lax.” The donation limit was exceeded, but in this case it seems that a refund has been made, so it is unlikely that legal action will be taken against the Trump campaign and WinRed.”
Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One, a campaign financing reform advocacy organization, told The Insider that Trump’s campaign has raised new questions about the intersection of campaign financing and consumer protection, including issues such as Will fundraising platforms like WinRed maintain the same standards? As with other businesses, especially for behaviors that might be seen as predatory of the elderly.
She said: “The basic consumer law is that you have to give consumers a clear and compelling notice, a guarantee that is about to happen.” “In the case of pure consumer law, it sounds impossible to make people know. The test of the field they are entering.”
McGehee added that in the long run, WinRed’s task of profiting from online fundraising games and catching up with political opponents on the Democratic side has created an incentive mechanism that allows cutting corners into a gray area similar to ethics. McGehee Added.
“It’s important to note that WinRed is a for-profit entity compared to the non-profit organization ActBlue. When you are a for-profit company, the motivation to make these things clear is not so strong-they are a company they Your job is to make money,” she said. “Since they are a company, the question I want to ask immediately is: Is this a good business practice?”
Even if the Trump campaign and WinRed will not be immediately subject to the direct consequences of federal agencies, these heinous allegations may harm the development of the platform and in turn harm the GOP.
Holman told insiders: “Highly unethical and deceptive fundraising activities will inevitably cause losses.” “These donors are unlikely to donate campaign contributions to Trump and Windred again.”