In fine print, online donors to the Trump reelection campaign did not realize they signed up to have thousands of dollars taken from their bank accounts to WinRed, an online platform that raises funds for Republican candidates.
A clear pattern emerged. Donors typically said they intended to give once or twice and only later discovered on their bank statements and credit card bills that they were donating over and over again. Some, like Mr. Blatt, who died of cancer in February, sought an injunction from their banks and credit cards. Others pursued refunds directly from WinRed, which typically granted them to avoid more costly formal disputes.-NYT
An investigation conducted by The New York Times found that starting in September, the Trump campaign allegedly set up weekly recurring donations as the default for online donors. Donors had to continually uncheck a box to opt out. The notice of recurring donations was allegedly included only in a fine-print statement. As the election approached, the Trump campaign added a second prechecked box that doubled a person’s contribution. The Trump campaign continually tweaked the ‘yellow box’ up until the election to get people to donate even more money they could not afford to his campaign.
As folks began overwhelming their banks and credit card companies with allegations of fraud, WinRed began issuing refunds to those who figured out they were being duped. In fact, the online fundraising platform issued more refunds than they had ever before. In total, they issued $122 million in refunds to Trump supporters, including retirees, vets, and those struggling to even pay their rent and put food on their tables.
Mr. Trump’s hyperaggressive fund-raising practices did not stop once he lost the election. His campaign continued the weekly withdrawals through prechecked boxes all the way through Dec. 14 as he raised tens of millions of dollars for his new political action committee, Save America.
In March, Mr. Trump urged his followers to send their money to him — and not to the traditional party apparatus — making plain that he intends to remain the gravitational center of Republican fund-raising online.
Basically, the money Trump conned out of people under his unfounded claim, ‘Stop the Steel,” amounted to to an interest-free loan from unwitting supporters. Money raised from that scam was used to refund those who went bankrupt donating to his reelection campaign.
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