The political fundraising arm for Republicans in the House of Representatives and Republican House candidates used a pre-checked box on its website that threatened donors with outing them to former President Donald Trump if they unchecked it. The box, if left checked, would set donors up to become recurring givers to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
The pre-checked box told donors that, if they opted out of making recurring gifts, “we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR & sided with the Dems,” The New York Times reported. Keeping the box checked, the NRCC added, would allow the GOP to “win back the House” and encourage “Trump to run in 2024.”
This is the NRCC's homepage prechecked donation box right now.
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) April 7, 2021
Confronted with the pre-checked box that coerces donors into becoming frequent givers, the NRCC pointed out that its counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) also uses pre-checking boxes for individuals to become recurring donors. But unlike the NRCC, the DCCC alerts donors on its site after they sign up to give repeat donations through a pop-up that shows up on their screen telling them specifically what they signed up for.
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“We use clear language and confirm with our grass-roots supporters that they would like to set up a recurring monthly donation,” a DCCC spokesperson said.
As of Thursday morning, the NRCC appeared to still have the threat of outing donors to Trump as “defectors” on the donation site.
Deceiving donors into giving more often than they may want is not a tactic that is exclusive to the NRCC alone — this past week, The Times also reported how Trump’s campaign site had duped many of his own supporters into becoming recurring donors, often without their knowledge or consent.
Last September, Trump’s site began making recurring monetary gifts to the campaign its default option for those who gave. Per the Times’s reporting, “scores” of Trump loyalists ended up signing up for the repeat gifts, resulting in banks and credit card companies receiving complaints from these loyalists.
In total, during the last two-and-a-half months of 2020, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, and the shared account between the two entities, doled out more than 530,000 refunds, amounting to more than $64 million in returned campaign cash due to the scheme.
Trump responded to the Times report on Monday, calling it a “one-sided attack piece” while continuing to push false assertions regarding his loss to President Joe Biden in the election last fall, errantly claiming that, “except for massive voter fraud, this was a campaign that was easily won by your favorite Republican President, me!”
Although a sizable number of Republican voters believe false assertions like these, there is no tangible evidence to show that any portion of the presidential election was fraudulent. Dozens of court cases challenging the veracity of the election, including some that Trump-appointed judges presided over, were dismissed late last year and earlier this year.