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Tag: winred

'Scandalous' Violations Of Campaign Finance Law By Top GOP Funding Site

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In 2019, the Republican Party launched its fundraising platform, WinRed, a GOP counterpart to the Democratic fundrasing behemoth ActBlue. And in the 2020 election, according to Daily Beast reporter Roger Sollenberger, WinRed "raised more than $2.24 billion for GOP campaigns and committees." Sollenberger reports that according to campaign finance experts the Beast interviewed, WinRed "has not disclosed possibly tens of millions of dollars in PAC expenses" and "has kept secret the identities of the people and firms who work for it and provide its services."

"According to these experts, based on WinRed's disclosures, the PAC appears to have potentially crossed the blurry lines of federal campaign finance laws," Sollenberger reports.

One of the interviewees for Sollenberger's article was former Federal Election Commission Commissioner Ann Ravel, who described WinRed's filings as "nothing short of scandalous" and "absurd."

Ravel told the Beast, "I can't think of any mechanism or loophole that would permit this. Really. It has the appearance of being, if not outright fraudulent, at least not complying with the intent of disclosure laws. On its face, that's what any reasonable federal auditor would think."

Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, was equally critical of WinRed's filings and told the Beast, "This isn't like anything we've seen on this scale. With the publicly available information we have, it appears potentially illegal."

According to Sollenberger, WinRed hasn't reported many of the types of expenses that ActBlue has reported, such as "transaction fees, travel and meals, Uber rides, rent, administrative costs, communications, legal and accounting work, payroll taxes and bank fees."

"WinRed's PAC claims to pay for none of those things," Sollenberger reports. "Disclosure is the heart of campaign finance law. And if WinRed doesn't disclose its expenses, that means donors, campaigns, regulators and the public cannot see who the organization pays. But according to filings with the Federal Election Commission, the PAC paid a grand total of $1522.55 for the 2020 election. All of that meager amount went to its sister company, a for-profit corporation called WinRed Technical Services LLC, for 'merchandise.'"

Sollenberger adds, "Over the same period, ActBlue — a nonprofit — raised double that amount, $4.4 billion. It reported spending a little over $42 million on operating costs, about one percent of its total. To put that in perspective, WinRed PAC's $1502.55 budget was around 3.57 thousandths of one percent the size of ActBlue's. If WinRed expended one percent of its $2.24 billion — ActBlue's approximate rate — its operating budget would be $22.4 million."

GOP Fears Weak Online Fundraising Jeopardizes Senate Majority

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A true blue wave in November would not only include former Vice President Joe Biden defeating President Donald Trump, but Democrats retaking the U.S. Senate, expanding their majority in the House of Representatives, and winning victories in state races. None of that is guaranteed to happen, but according to an article by Elena Schneider, James Arkin and Ally Mutnick in Politico, some Republican activists are worried that when it comes to U.S. Senate races and online fundraising, the GOP is falling short.

"The money guarantees Democrats nothing heading into November 2020," Schneider, Arkin and Mutnick explain. "But with President Donald Trump's poll numbers sagging and more GOP-held Senate races looking competitive, the intensity of Democrats' online fundraising is close to erasing the financial advantage incumbent senators usually enjoy. That's making it harder to bend their campaigns away from the national trend lines — and helping Democrats' odds of flipping the Senate."

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‘A Rocky Start’ For GOP Small-Donor Platform WinRed

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

In late June, the Republican Party unveiled its new donor portal WinRed. The GOP had high hopes for the website, insisting that it had the potential to seriously ramp up grassroots donations to Republican candidates. But according to a report by the Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay, WinRed “has had what could charitably be described as a rocky launch.”

During its first week, Markay reports, WinRed raised “just $184,000.” However, he goes on to report that “operations have improved since then” at WinRed, according to its officials. One source told the Daily Beast that WinRed helped raise almost $4 million during the last four days of July, although the source doesn’t expect that pace to continue.

WinRed, Markay notes, was launched to compete with the Democratic fundraising/donor platform ActBlue, which brought in $250 million in campaign contributions during 2019’s second quarter.

Despite its “rocky launch,” Markay reports, WinRed is still “positioned to be the go-to outlet for the” GOP establishment. Some conservative groups have tried to build a competitor to WinRed, but the platform has enjoyed the support of top GOP committees and President Trump himself. Trump, in fact, tweeted his support for WinRed on June 24:

 

New GOP Online Donations Platform Sparks Corruption Rumors

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel reportedly “choked up” as she faced internal party accusations of corruption surrounding the process to choose the party’s online donor platform, according to Politico. The outlet reported on Wednesday that McDaniel “grew visibly emotional,” according to eyewitnesses, when meeting with senior party officials over the issue.

“The party chairwoman choked up as she kicked off a closed-door panel discussion on WinRed by addressing ongoing rumors that she and other RNC officials are poised to personally benefit from the new platform,” Politico reported. “At one point, McDaniel said the only money she is making is her RNC salary.”

WinRed is an online donation system that Republicans have chosen to compete with ActBlue, a platform that Democrats have used for years to generate millions in donations from grassroots supporters online. For years, Republicans have lagged behind Democrats in this area.

Earlier in the year, Trump and top party officials issued an edict that WinRed would be the party’s chosen platform. But ABC News reported that some Republicans “have questioned whether key decision makers at the campaign and the party have any financial connection” to the vendors involved in the WinRed process as well.

So far, WinRed is a bust.

In reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), Republicans raised $184,000 via WinRed since it launched in late June. By contrast, donors gave $249 million to Democratic candidates through ActBlue in the first six months of 2017.

Republicans have trailed behind Democratic grassroots fundraising for years. The attempt by Republicans to close the gap is being tripped up by the very culture of corruption they allowed to thrive for so long.

Published with permission of The American Independent.