On Saturday the New York Times revealed that Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign issued a staggering amount in refunds to donors. The campaign refunded nearly 11% of refunds totaling more than $122.7 million. The Times findings were based on Federal Election Commission filings.
Last summer, the Trump campaign and the company that processes its online donations, WinRed, initiated the use of pre-checked recurring payment boxes while processing online offerings.
Unless donors read the fine, fine print on the disclaimer and manually unchecked the boxes their credit cards were charged weekly for the original donation amount up until Election Day.
One pre-checked box read, in large, boldface type: “This is the FINAL month until Election Day and we need EVERY Patriot stepping up if we’re going to WIN FOUR MORE YEARS for President Trump. He’s revitalizing our economy, restoring LAW & ORDER, and returning us to American Greatness, but he’s not done yet. This is your chance – stand with President Trump and MAXIMIZE your impact NOW!”
Below that bold print was a small lettered line that read: “Make this a weekly recurring donation until 11/3.”
As Election Day approached the campaign “made that disclaimer increasingly opaque” and included a second pre-checked box that authorized doubling the donor’s contribution.
Financial institutions became “inundated with fraud complaints” from Trump supporters who unknowingly agreed to the recurring charges.
Several banks and one of the nation’s largest credit-card companies have confirmed that, at one point late in 2020, these cases accounted for up to 3% of all fraud complaints that the institutions received.
Jason Miller, a Trump spokesperson, attempted to blow off the claims claiming that internal data determined 0.87% of its WinRed transactions were subject to “formal” credit card disputes.
“The fact we had a dispute rate of less than 1% of total donations despite raising more grass-roots money than any campaign in history is remarkable,” Miller stated.
Even though Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden the push for contributions continued. Trump pushed the “big lie” inciting his follower by telling them that Democrats had stolen the election from him through widespread voter fraud.
According to Federal Election Commission filings that were publicly released in January from WinRed, Trump garnered “$255.4 million in political donations from his supporters in the eight weeks following the 2020 election. Trump and the Republican National Committee raised more than $2 million daily on WinRed from early November through Dec. 14, the day of the Electoral College vote. Email requests were a crucial component of Trump’s requests for cash.”
Trump’s campaign sent over 400 emails and 130 text messages appealing for donations in the first 30 days after the election.
“It felt like it was a scam,” Russell Blatt told the Times after his family realized that $3,000 had been withdrawn from the account of his brother, Stacy, who lived on less than $1,000 a month and was battling cancer.
Blatt gave $500 to Trump’s campaign in early September despite the fact that he lives on less than $1,000 a month. She shares that she was completely blindsided by what happened next.
That single quickly multiplied. Another $500 was taken the following day, then again, the next week, and every week through mid-October without his knowledge. He discovered the issue after his bank account was deleted and frozen.
He had to turn to his brother in order to pay for rent and utilities. He says the Trump campaign drained $3,000 in under 30 days.
A 78-year-old from California made what she believed to be a one-time donation of $900 and in under 30 days, the Trump campaign took over $8,000.
In December the campaign refunded an average of $720,000 daily to donors.