“Trump never pays his bills”: Truth Social reportedly stiffs contractor amid financial “disarray”

Trump's Twitter knockoff is already in a "bitter battle" with its web host over $1.6 million in unpaid bills

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published August 26, 2022 9:24AM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Devin Nunes (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Devin Nunes (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump's Twitter knockoff Truth Social stiffed a contractor in the latest sign of financial "disarray" at the troubled social network, according to Fox Business.

Truth Social, which is headed by former Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is in a "bitter battle" with RightForge, the network's web host and one of its largest vendors, over $1.6 million in unpaid bills, according to the report.

The company entered into an agreement with Truth Social in October. Sources told Fox Business that Truth Social made just three payments and hasn't paid anything since March. The company is now threatening legal action unless it is paid, according to the report.

RightForge CEO Martin Avila did not deny the report but told the outlet he would not comment on "any private matters."

"RightForge believes in the mission of President Trump's free speech platform and wish to continue supporting the president in his media endeavors," he said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Truth Social likewise did not deny the allegations.

Trump and his companies have a long record of stiffing contractors. "Trump never pays his bills," tweeted Jeff Jarvis, a media professor and blogger.

RightForge, which aims to provide right-wingers with alternatives to Silicon Valley products, previously announced big plans for Truth Social. Avila told Axios last year that the company was "laying the groundwork" for Truth Social to compete with Twitter and have more than 75 million users.

"If you believe that the president should be de-platformed, we believe that you're not really interested in living in a free country," he told the outlet. "And that's really what we're all about is making sure that America stays true to its core ideas, and that the marketplace of ideas stays open."

But less than a year later, the company is accusing Truth Social of breach of contract.

The network got off to a disastrous launch as users were plagued by technical glitches, outages and an extensive waitlist. Truth Social's planned merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), has been indefinitely delayed amid questions about its financial health. The blank check company is facing a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into whether it illegally negotiated the Truth Social deal before going public. The company was also subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in New York last month amid a Justice Department investigation into the merger.

The probes have upended the two sides' business plans. Digital World said that the investigations "could materially delay, materially impede, or prevent the consummation of the business combination."

The company in an SEC filing this week set a September 6 shareholder meeting to determine whether to delay the deadline to finalize the merger and warned that it could go under if the merger is not completed, according to CNBC. The company warned in the filing that Trump's mounting scandals threaten to harm the deal.

"If President Trump becomes less popular or there are further controversies that damage his credibility or the desire of people to use a platform associated with him, and from which he will derive financial benefit, [Trump Media's] results of operations, as well as the outcome of the proposed Business combination, could be adversely affected," the filing said.

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

Shares of Digital World have fallen by more than 42% since the start of the year.

Despite Trump's big plans for the company, Digital World said in May that it is far from certain that the venture would succeed.

"There is no operating history upon which to base any assumption as to the likelihood that [Trump Media] will prove successful and [Trump Media] may never generate any operating revenues or ever achieve profitable operations. If TMTG is unsuccessful in addressing these risks, its business will most likely fail," Digital World said in a regulatory filing, adding that Truth Social does not yet generate revenue and may not until at least next year.

Trump has also complained about his app's absence from the Android app store, with the app only available for download on iOS devices.

"Is Google trying to f**k me?" he questioned over the spring, according to Rolling Stone, even though a source told the outlet at the time that Truth Social had not even submitted an app for Google to review because it was still in development.

The former president suffered another setback after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied his application to trademark "Truth Social." The office determined that the company's name is "confusingly similar" to the social media platform Vero – True Social and the Truth Network, a Christian radio network.

"Ideally," trademark attorney Josh Gerben, who surfaced the filing, told Axios, "you would pick a name where this wasn't going to happen."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

MORE FROM Igor Derysh

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

Aggregate Donald Trump Politics Truth Social