Congressional Republicans are growing more desperate by the day. On the heels of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threatening corporate America to shut their traps over the GOP's voter suppression laws, the House GOP campaign arm is scamming grassroots donors into making recurring monthly payments lest they be labeled a “DEFECTOR!" who "sided with Dems."
Naturally, the scam hinges on leveraging the cult following of the scammer-in-chief himself, Donald Trump. In fact, one might surmise the National Republican Congressional Committee is having a little trouble raising funds without Trump these days (remember Trump's nasty cease and desist letter ordering the GOP fundraising committees to stop using his name?).
The entire twisted NRCC grift is detailed nicely by Tim Miller over at The Bulwark. First, Trumpers get tricked into clicking through to a donation page with the lie that it's their last chance to opt in to a nonexistent Trump social network site that will also surely never exist since Trump himself promised he was creating one.
"Friend request expiring in 10 minutes!" reads an NRCC text solicitation that suggests it's being sent by Trump. "Trump needs to know if you're joining his new social media site."
Potential donors are then funneled into a page presenting a supposed "TRUMP SOCIAL MEDIA POLL" and asking, "Will you be the first to join?" In order to opt in to Trump's fictional social media site, people are offered two choices:
- Yes, I stand with Trump!
- No: I prefer Fake News!
Finally—and this is where the grift gets really lucrative—the NRCC page includes two pre-checked boxes. The first automatically makes one’s donation a recurring monthly donation, and the second ups one’s first donation by $50.
But it's not just the fact that the boxes are pre-checked, it's the verbiage in the boxes that really ups the ante. In the “recurring” box, donors would have to uncheck this: “We need your help to DRAFT Trump for President! Check this box if you want Trump to run again. Uncheck this box if you do NOT stand with Trump.” Below that, in smaller font, "Make this a monthly recurring donation" is included as sort of an afterthought.
The second box Trumpers must un-check reads: "Trump Patriot Status: Missing! As a TOP grassroots supporter, we were surprised to see you ABANDONED him. This is your LAST CHANCE to update your status to ACTIVE!" And, again, the afterthought: "Donate an additional $50 automatically on (X date)."
The NRCC fundraising page reprises the same recurring donation scam but instead warns donors, "If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you're a DEFECTOR & sided with the Dems." Naturally, leaving the pre-checked box alone forces one into becoming a monthly donor.
What's perhaps most amazing about this entire shady NRCC scam isn't the fact that it's modeled after a 2020 Trump campaign scam; it's the fact that Trump's scam was uncovered, publicized, and the implicated fundraising committees endured a rash of fraud complaints that forced them to return tens of millions of dollars.
"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," The New York Times wrote on April 3. "Over all, the Trump operation refunded 10.7 percent of the money it raised on WinRed in 2020."
In total, the Trump campaign issued $122.7 million in refunds.
But the bigger takeaway might be this: House Republicans seem desperate to raise money by leaning on Trump's name. Trump was prominently featured in each step of the NRCC's fraudulent solicitation, and one has to wonder whether House Republicans—and maybe even congressional Republicans overall—stand any chance of raising money from grassroots donors without employing Trump's name.
In other words, without Trump, congressional Republicans have zero juice with the donors and voters they are relying on to notch big wins in 2022.