GOP fundraisers threaten to brand donors as 'defectors' to Trump in manipulative and misleading campaign
Although former President Donald Trump has been gone from the White House since January 20, he continues to aggressively raise funds for his political operation. According to Never Trump conservative pundit Tim Miller, Trump's fundraising tactics are still as sleazy as they were when he was in the White House — and recent fundraising from the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to Miller, is just as bad.
In an article published by the website The Bulwark this week, Miller describes the NRCC's offers to join Trump's "new social media site" — which, Miller stresses, has yet to be created. The anti-Trump conservative notes that on Tuesday, he received a text message from the NRCC that read, "Friend request expiring in 10 minutes! Trump needs to know if you're joining his new social media site, Timothy. We won't ask again."
Miller explains, "For starters, Donald Trump has not started a new social media site yet, he's just talked about it…. But even if Trump Social does come into existence, the NRCC — which is a Republican Party committee not affiliated with Donald Trump — would have no operating control or ability to sign people up for this private enterprise. Which creates an ontological conundrum: Can an offer that doesn't exist expire in 10 minutes? "
The Never Trumper notes that he received these NRCC texts only a few days after the New York Times published a "bombshell" article by journalist Shane Goldmacher, who reported that Trump's campaign was repeatedly billing supporters who had only agreed to single contributions.
The NRCC’s prechecked recurring donation box makes people disavow Dear Leader Trump to uncheck.… https://t.co/3ts42Ncsoa— Tim Miller (@Tim Miller) 1617808573
Miller observes, "The crux of the grift was the Trump campaign's deceptive e-mail practices which, among other things, chose to make recurring donations the default setting for supporters who were lured in by the campaign's hyperbolic and conspiratorial fundraising pitches. As a result, elderly Trump supporters on fixed incomes had their bank accounts depleted, causing their rent and utilities checks to bounce. Altogether the Trump campaign had to refund $122 million in online donations from their own supporters who had been duped."
In his Bulwark article, Miller also describes an NRCC text in which Trump supporters are insulted as "defectors" if they uncheck a box for recurring donations. That box reads, "If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you're a DEFECTOR & sided with the Dems…. Make this a monthly recurring donation."
The checkbox itself isn't even next to the phrase "recurring donation," leaving the effect of the checked box potentially unclear to many donors, some of whom may not be that familiar with computers. The Times report found that these types of tactics led to many more Trump donors seeking refunds and unintentionally giving more money — sometimes much more than they could possibly afford — than is common in political fundraising.
"I'm sure there's some formal legal difference between the NRCC tricking someone into signing up for a nonexistent social media site — and then having a default box opting them in to both double their pledged amount and make it recurring—and the criminal advance-fee scams made famous by the imaginary Nigerian princes," Miller writes. "But as a moral matter, the difference is awfully hard to suss out."
The NRCC has come under fire for opting people into making multiple donations, which many experts argue is manipulative and can border on fraud. The organization pushed back on some of the reporting, pointing out to Forbes that Democrats, too, have used in opt-out mechanisms to push donors into greater contributions. However, the examples provided appeared to show a much clearer choice between recurring donations and one-time donations and did not include the manipulative language calling one-time donors "defectors:
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