GOP House fundraisers accuse people who uncheck their recurring donation box of being Trump 'DEFECTORS' and prey to 'the Radical Left'

Grace Panetta
·4 min read
trump grifting
President Donald Trump Getty
  • House Republicans' campaign arm debuted a recurring donation box with a stark message. 

  • The NRCC warns that if you "UNCHECK this box, we'll have to tell Trump you're a DEFECTOR."

  • GOP campaign committees are ignoring Trump's warnings to refrain from using his name to fundraise.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The National Republican Congressional Committee debuted a bright-yellow pre-checked recurring donation box on its donation page with a startling ultimatum. 

The message from House Republicans' campaign arm, which on Wednesday caught the eye of many reporters, warns people that if they opt-out of recurring donations and "UNCHECK this box, we'll have to tell Trump you're a DEFECTOR & sided with the Dems."

-Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) April 7, 2021

"The NRCC employs the same standards that are accepted and utilized by Democrats and Republicans across the digital fundraising ecosystem," NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams told Insider. 

In early March, Politico reported that Trump's team sent cease-and-desist notices to the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee telling them not to use his name or likeness in fundraising appeals. 

Yet, in many instances, those committees are ignoring the warnings and continuing to raise money off of Trump's name. 

Video: How Republican convention speeches changed over the years

Shortly after news of the cease-and-desist notices, Politico reported that the RNC's chief counsel sent a letter to Trump's lawyers pushing back on the cease-and-desist notice, arguing that the organization "has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech." He also said that Trump continued to approve of the committee's use of his name in a conversation with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. 

Currently, on the RNC's WinRed donation page, the yellow pre-checked donation box says that "the Dems want you to uncheck the box and abandon President Trump, but we know you won't!"

Read more: These 10 high-profile Republicans who dumped Trump are mostly wary to back Biden's re-election. At least for now.

In addition to the back-and-forth over the cease-and-desist Trump has come under scrutiny for his campaign's own aggressive fundraising tactics in soliciting recurring donations. Both the Trump campaign and three Republican committees all use GOP fundraising platform WinRed to collect donations. 

A New York Times investigation published Saturday pulled back the curtain on how the Trump campaign, facing a financial crunch in summer 2020, deployed a strategy known as "the money bomb" to solicit high amounts from recurring donations. They did so by making the fine print on pre-checked donation boxes smaller and more confusing and upping the recurring donations from monthly to weekly. 

Suddenly, thousands of donors, many of whom were elderly, who thought they had only given a few hundred dollars were stunned to see thousands of dollars drained from their bank accounts by the Trump campaign. A major spike in refund requests and surges in fraud claims to their credit card companies ensued. In total, the Trump campaign ended up refunding over 10% of the donations - or $122 million - raised through WinRed, The Times found.

Many Democratic campaigns and outside groups from all sides of the political spectrum also solicit recurring donations, as WinRed pointed out after the publication of The Times' article, and deploy dramatic, all-caps warnings as to what will happen if the reader doesn't rush them a donation by midnight. But experts say the Trump camp's particular tactics in making the fine print less obvious crossed an ethical line.

Trump, in a Monday statement, maintained that all donors who requested refunds promptly received them and that less than 1% of all donations resulted in formal credit card disputes. 

Still, five highly-experienced campaign finance experts told Insider that they'd never seen such measures deployed by a campaign before. While all agreed that the Trump campaign's tactics were nonetheless highly deceptive and unethical, it's not as clear whether their conduct immediately violates any campaign finance or consumer protection laws and regulations. 

Read the original article on Business Insider