The campaign arm of House Republicans is using an aggressive tactic to push online donors toward committing to monthly contributions, telling them that opting out of having the same amount automatically charged to their credit card or withdrawn from their bank each month is an act of disloyalty toward former President Donald Trump.
With a pre-checked box on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s donation page on the GOP’s online fundraising platform WinRed, donors are opted into making monthly donations and told: “We need to know we haven’t lost you to the Radical Left. If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR & sided with the Dems.”
Following that box is another one that commits them to an additional donation on April 15. “If you want Trump to run for President this is your LAST chance to FLIP the House,” donors are told above another pre-checked box. “Change your Trump Victory Fund Status to ACTIVE now! Remain inactive = Republicans lose.”
Asking online donors to commit to making automatic monthly contributions is a standard political fundraising practice – one that allows campaigns, parties and organizations to tap into and budget around a consistent stream of cash. Pre-checked boxes that commit donors to those monthly contributions aren’t new, either: ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising platform, allows some groups to use such boxes.
But Republicans – including Trump’s 2020 campaign – have gone to new lengths to tap into Trump’s popularity and strong-arm supporters into regular, automatic contributions.
The NRCC’s language was first reported by the Bulwark, a news site run by anti-Trump conservatives, which highlighted similar pre-checked boxes the NRCC has used in recent weeks, including one that told donors to “check this box if you want Trump to run again” – when, in reality, what donors were being asked to do was leave checked a box that signed them up to make monthly donations. Under that was a box committing donors to another April 7 donation, telling them that their “Trump Patriot Status” was “MISSING!”
“As a TOP grassroots supporter, we were surprised to see you ABANDONED him. This is your LAST CHANCE to update your status to ACTIVE!” the pre-checked box said.
Using the same tactics that the New York Times reported Trump’s campaign used – provoking complaints and a surge of refunds – the larger, ominous warnings are placed above more easily missed, smaller fonts that make clear what donors are actually committing to do.
The NRCC’s pre-checked boxes also appear to ignore the cease-and-desist letter Trump’s lawyers recently sent to Republican committees instructing them not to use his likeness to raise money.
“The NRCC employs the same standards that are accepted and utilized by Democrats and Republicans across the digital fundraising ecosystem,” NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams said.
The NRCC’s counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, also uses pre-checked boxes to sign online donors up for automatic monthly contributions.
But the language donors see from the DCCC is straightforward about what they’re being asked to do.
On the DCCC’s ActBlue page, donors are asked immediately under their selection of an amount to donate to “Make it monthly!” The “Yes, count me in!” box is pre-checked, and has a “No, donate once” alternative next to it. Those who do opt for monthly donations then see a window thanking them for their monthly contributions, with an option to click a link to “Make this a one-time contribution instead.”
That approach is similar to how Democrats’ Senate campaign arm, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign asked donors to commit to monthly contributions.
“Unlike the NRCC, we use clear language and confirm with our grassroots supporters that they would like to set up a recurring monthly donation,” DCCC spokeswoman Helen Kalla said.