Following a bombshell report by The New York Times, multiple states began investigating Republican fundraising efforts during the Trump era.
"Four state attorneys general have begun looking into the online fund-raising practices of both political parties, specifically seeking information about the use of prechecked boxes to enroll contributors in recurring donation programs that spurred a wave of fraud complaints and demands for refunds last year," Shane Goldmacher reported for the newspaer. "WinRed revealed the existence of the letter from the attorneys general in a Federal District Court filing this week, as the firm is seeking to stop any state-level investigation, arguing federal law should pre-empt any such effort."
The investigations are being conducted by attorneys general Keith Ellison (D-MN), Brian Frosh (D-MD), Letitia James (D-NY), and William Tong (D-CT).
"The letters were sent in late April, shortly after a New York Times investigation showed how the Trump operation had deployed — and then obscured with extraneous text — prechecked boxes that automatically enrolled contributors into recurring donation programs, taking out money as often as every week. A second prechecked box took out what the campaign called a 'money bomb' donation. The practice caused a surge of credit card fraud complaints and the Trump operation ultimately refunded more than 10 percent of what it raised on WinRed in 2020 — $122 million. The Biden operation refunded a far smaller share of its online 2020 fund-raising: 2.2 percent," The Times reported.
The initial story by the newspaper was titled, "How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations."
"The sheer magnitude of the money involved is staggering for politics. In the final two and a half months of 2020, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts issued more than 530,000 refunds worth $64.3 million to online donors. All campaigns make refunds for various reasons, including to people who give more than the legal limit. But the sum the Trump operation refunded dwarfed that of Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s campaign and his equivalent Democratic committees, which made 37,000 online refunds totaling $5.6 million in that time," the newspaper reported in April. "In effect, the money that Mr. Trump eventually had to refund amounted to an interest-free loan from unwitting supporters at the most important juncture of the 2020 race."
NEWS: State AGs in NY, CT, MD & MN are looking into prechecked recurring donation box schemes for online $$$. WinR… https://t.co/LzIYxPqWBU— Shane Goldmacher (@Shane Goldmacher) 1625767981.0
READ the letter from NY AG @TishJames to WinRed, which the firm included in its federal complaint. You can see wha… https://t.co/wn7exKs6yE— Shane Goldmacher (@Shane Goldmacher) 1625768238.0
The Maryland AG's office, in an email, said of WinRed's complaints: "If WinRed did not mislead or cheat donors in o… https://t.co/k550FGNBdx— Shane Goldmacher (@Shane Goldmacher) 1625768671.0