Trump PAC dupes donors into giving twice with sneaky fundraising tactic

Senate Democrats have proposed legislation to ban the trickery — but Trump's team is still deploying the tactic

Published June 10, 2021 8:04PM (EDT)

Former President Donald J Trump (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Former President Donald J Trump (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump's political action committee is actively calling on donors to "surprise" him with extra cash for his birthday — and is employing some sneaky tactics in order to make it happen.

First spotted by Insider, the former president's Save America PAC automatically checks a box urging donors to double their contribution on Trump's June 14 birthday, forcing users to actively opt-out of the multiple-donation scheme.

These pre-checked donation boxes have been blasted as "deceptive and predatory" by Senate Democrats, who last month introduced legislation to outlaw the practice.

The move effectively means that without actively opting out, a $500 donation today to the Trump Super PAC would be doubled, with the program taking another $500 on Trump's birthday in mid-June.

"President Trump's birthday is coming up on June 14th, and we want to surprise him with a record-breaking fundraising day. Will you help us?" the pre-checked box reads. 

Insider also noted the page "automatically ticks a box to say the supporter wants to make their contribution a monthly donation."

Trump's PAC website claims "90% of the proceeds would go to the Save America PAC, and 10% would go to the Make America Great Again PAC (MAGAPac), which was formerly his presidential campaign committee." By taking such a measure, the Trump camp is actively fundraising for the former president himself — not on behalf of the Republican Party — which means he can pocket most of the cash for his own political operations. 

Both Trump-tied PACs have been busy courting donors in the digital age. Research conducted by The Independent discovered that Trump's Save America PAC inundated users in May with at least one message per day. The messages directed at small-dollar Trump donors featured what appeared to be personalized campaign notes from Trump family members, though they were all automated. 

"Eric & Don Jr: It's so important that we're BOTH texting you," one text message read, according to The Independent. "It's almost our father's birthday. You have 1HR to sign the card. Act NOW."

In May, Senate Democrats introduced legislation to ban the practice, which uses "automatically renewing campaign contributions without a donor's explicit consent," The Washington Post reported. 

The increased fundraising push from the Trump campaign comes at the same time as the former president gears back up to hold rallies across the country, for what looks increasingly like an early 2024 White House bid. The Save America PAC was launched back in November after Trump lost the 2020 election — and is reported to have somewhere in the neighborhood of $85 million in cash on hand. 

This isn't the first time Republicans or their fundraising organs have attempted to decide unwilling donors into handing over hard-earned cash. As Salon's Jon Skolnik reported back in April, GOP fundraising site "WinRed" has also employed many of the same questionable tactics. 

By Zachary Petrizzo

Zachary Petrizzo was an investigative reporter at Salon. Follow him on Twitter @ZTPetrizzo.

MORE FROM Zachary Petrizzo

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregation Donald Trump Donations Fundraising Gop Pacs Politics