It worked so well, that the Republican Party as a whole has adopted this tactic
The grifting was never-ending during the nightmare that was the Trump administration. Trump’s largest money grab occurred during his campaign for a second term.
According to the New York Times, the Trump campaign was running out of money by the end of the summer of 2020. Trump was furious. And not just because there was no money for media buys, but also because the Biden campaign was ahead in fundraising.
Trump never likes to lose.
I’m guessing that he had one of his volcanic eruptions which sent his minions scrambling to come up with a way not just to raise enough money to refill the coffers, but also to raise more money than Biden.
That’s how Trump, who is incredibly insecure, measures his self-worth. By raising more money than his opponent.
The method his minions came up with was ingenious. Send emails to everyone on the mailing list asking for a donation and include a teeny tiny pre-checked box to make the one-time donation a recurring donation instead. They were counting on the fact that a lot of people wouldn’t notice the little checked box. And a lot of people don’t monitor their bank accounts or credit card statements very closely so they don’t notice money disappearing out of their accounts.
It all worked out beautifully until the campaign needed even more money so the instead of monthly contributions, those little checked boxes gave default permission for weekly contributions. And all of a sudden, those small contributions from cash strapped supporters started to rapidly bleed them dry. Credit cards were maxed out. Bank accounts were overdrawn.
Trump supporters began to realize that they had been defrauded to the tune of thousands of dollars each. They were able to get the money back from their banks and credit cards, but where were the banks and credit card companies going to get their refunds from?
The Trump campaign owed $64.3 million in refunds. Let that number sink in for a moment.
Now it is normal for campaigns to have to refund money to contributors usually because the donations exceeded the legally allowable amount, but it’s usually about 2%. The Trump campaign had a 12.29% refund rate. Not because the donors gave too much but because the campaign illegally withdrew money from their banks and credit cards. “Illegally withdrew” being a nice way of saying “stole.”
The Trump campaign didn’t have $64.3 million to refund to their donors. So what did they do? Since it worked so well the first time, the campaign started another email appeal, this time asking for money for Trump’s defense fund. And they used those donations to pay back the supporters that they had defrauded.
Can you say Ponzi scheme?
Now, here’s what really caught my attention. None of the people that Trump’s campaign ripped off blame him.
Come on. If you had been giving your support and money to someone and then found out that they had stolen thousands of dollars from you, wouldn’t that be a huge wake up call? Or at least a red flag that maybe this person is not who you thought they were?
Trumpism is a cult. Trump supporters aren’t supporters in the ordinary sense of the word. They are members of the cult of Trump. They have been so brainwashed that they cannot conceive of their god being able to commit an illegal act like stealing from them.
Instead, they blame WinRed, the firm hired by the campaign to handle online donations. The Democratic equivalent is ActBlue.
Did Trump know about the scheme? When his campaign was asked, they refused to answer. Which in my book is a yes.
But you don’t even have to ask. This scheme to defraud supporters was classic Trump. He loves to cheat. And this was the ultimate way to cheat his way to a fundraising victory over the Biden campaign.
Everything is a competition to Trump. And he needs to win. Always. He doesn’t care how he wins. He doesn’t care if he has to cheat to win, as long as he wins.
He even cheated to raise the money to refund donors by asking for more donations for a non-existent defense fund.
What I find amazing is the fact that his supporters think nothing of the fact that Trump thinks that they are stupid and won’t notice or care that they are being financially bled dry. How brainwashed do you have to be to be able to overlook the fact that the god that you worship thinks that you are a moron to be taken advantage of for his own personal gain?
Now here’s the really scary part. WinRed is still employed by the Republican Party to handle online donations. WinRed is using the same tactics in other political campaigns. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue used pre-checked boxes in their senatorial races in Georgia. The websites of Republican Party committees as well as top Republicans such as Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader and Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, all have those sneaky little pre-checked boxes.
Defrauding donors has become the new normal for the Republican Party.