President Donald Trump, his 2020 re-election campaign, and the Republican National Committee (RNC) are attempting to revolutionize GOP fundraising by bringing the whole process for all party candidates under one roof in an outfit called “WinRed,” but some in the consultant class who stand to lose significant business are fighting back against it.
Democrats have had, for more than a decade under their banner fundraising tool “ActBlue,” essential uniformity, especially among small-dollar donors with a tool that allows them to, at peak effectiveness, steer dollars to where they are most needed to win elections. Republicans, because they have used a variety of fundraising vendors and tools across a disparate array of firms, have essentially been at a disadvantage as a party.
In late June, Politico’s Alex Isenstadt explained the thinking behind WinRed in a piece just ahead of its launch:
Republicans are set to launch a long-awaited, much-delayed online fundraising platform on Monday, a move aimed at closing Democrats’ massive small-donor money advantage ahead of the 2020 election.
WinRed is being billed as the GOP’s answer to the Democratic Party’s ActBlue, which has already amassed over $174 million this year. The new tool is intended to reshape the GOP’s fundraising apparatus by creating a centralized, one-stop shop for online Republican giving, which the party has lacked to this point.
The launch caps months of behind-the-scenes discussions involving top Republicans. President Donald Trump and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner were involved, as were GOP congressional leaders and mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. The end product, Republican leaders hope, will fill a gaping void in the party’s machinery.
The RNC and the Trump campaign envision WinRed as the future of GOP fundraising.
“WinRed has the full backing of President Trump and his campaign,” Mike Reed, a senior RNC official, told Breitbart News on Friday. “WinRed is a revolutionary tool in the fundraising arsenal for Republicans that will transform the way GOP candidates and conservative causes across the country raise money. This platform offers candidates and committees convenience, a user-friendly interface, and allows them to efficiently raise money while allowing supporters to more effectively donate to candidates with like-minded beliefs.”
Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, added in a statement to Breitbart News that the GOP committees and president’s campaign are fully behind WinRed and expect all candidates, state parties, and other political action committees (PACs) affiliated with the GOP to get on the WinRed platform.
“There’s a reason President Trump and all the major GOP campaign committees are united behind WinRed: it has the best technology and data integration that will lift all conservative boats and actually help Republicans win in 2020,” Parscale said.
Republican officials insist that all candidates will have access to the WinRed platform, no Republican will be barred from it for any reason including anti-establishment primary challengers, and that all candidates and party committees nationwide are encouraged to sign onto it because uniformity on this front is the only way the GOP can create a true grassroots countermeasure to the left’s ActBlue fundraising machine. Putting their finger on the scale by barring anyone access to the platform, party officials agree, would be harmful to the overall goal of building a grassroots machine that they say they only have an opportunity while Trump is president to get up and running because of his unique ability to connect with small-dollar donors. In other words, the GOP views this setup as the long-term future of the party’s fundraising apparatus and is working to ensure that they seize this chance to implement it party-wide.
A problem Republicans are running into as they seek to implement WinRed across the GOP with all candidates and committees is pushback from consultants with other competing technology. For it to process fundraising donations, WinRed has contracted with Revv–which is a vendor that serves a back-end fundraising platform. Trump’s campaign has used Revv for years. Competing processor Anedot has created a competing website that used the RNC’s and the president’s likeness to try to hit back at the party for not being the selected vendor.
Part of the reason why party officials selected Revv over Anedot, however, is because Revv is partisan and only works with Republicans, but Anedot is nonpartisan and does work with candidates and people outside the Republican Party. While Democrats are all on ActBlue, Anedot has done fundraising work with Never Trump types like Evan McMullin and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld–who is challenging Trump in the GOP primary in 2020, but polling in the single digits at best–and bills itself as a nonpartisan firm. Revv, on the other hand, is partisan–and only works with Republicans–hence the GOP’s decision to choose that route as the way to go.
“The decision to not use Anedot was made in part because of their long history of working with scam PACs,” the RNC’s Reed added in his quote to Breitbart News. “Anedot also positions itself as a non-partisan entity. It obviously makes more sense for the RNC to work with a platform that is aligned completely with the Republican Party and the president.”
But Anedot, which previously has done significant amounts of work with many senior Republicans, ranging from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to House GOP leaders to many state parties and lawmakers across the party, stands to lose that business as the RNC and GOP across the board make the shift to WinRed and, by extension, Revv. As such, in response, Anedot recently launched a website called Give.GOP that, until the GOP sent cease-and-desist letters demanding they be removed, included imagery that had the GOP’s likeness on them.
In a follow-up story this week, Politico’s Isenstadt wrote about the rising tensions inside the GOP over the WinRed fight with Anedot:
Tensions over the future of the GOP’s grassroots fundraising are reaching a breaking point, with the national party turning to strong-arm tactics to get Republicans behind its new, Donald Trump-endorsed platform for small donors.
The Republican National Committee is threatening to withhold support from party candidates who refuse to use WinRed, the party’s newly established online fundraising tool. And the RNC, along with the party’s Senate and gubernatorial campaign arms, are threatening legal action against a rival donation vehicle.
The moves illustrate how Republican leaders are waging a determined campaign to make WinRed the sole provider of its small donor infrastructure — and to torpedo any competitors.
On Monday, the RNC sent an eight-page cease-and-desist letter to Paul Dietzel, a Republican digital strategist who earlier this month launched Give.GOP, a fundraising platform that includes a directory through which donors can give to party candidates and organizations. In the letter, RNC chief counsel Justin Riemer writes that while Give.GOP has a page inviting donors to give to the RNC, the committee hasn’t yet received any funds from the platform or received any outreach from it. Riemer also accuses Dietzel of using the committee’s trademark and logo without its permission.
The cease-and-desist letter from the RNC, provided to Breitbart News, also questions where the money from Give.GOP is going and how it would be provided to the party committees if it does end up going there. There is no answer to that question from the Anedot leaders at this stage, which has party leaders concerned that anyone who gives to Give.GOP could be getting hoodwinked into donating to a structure that does not help the party or the president or Republican candidates but, instead, is enriching political consultants attempting to hold onto the cash flow they are likely to lose if WinRed is implemented across the board as the Trump campaign and party officials envision.
Regarding the Anedot situation, Trump’s campaign manager, Parscale, in his quote to Breitbart News, described it as a “scheme” that hurts the GOP and helps Democrats.
“This is the same kind of scheme that has prevented Republicans for having an answer to ActBlue for 15 years,” Parscale said.
While WinRed was just rolled out a couple of weeks ago, party officials are working across the country with candidates, state parties, and other party fundraising vehicles to implement it universally–and are convinced that if it can be utilized everywhere, they can stand up to ActBlue once and for all down the road. It remains to be seen if the GOP will be successful in doing this, but if they pull it off–and if they are able to do it without hurting grassroots anti-establishment candidates–it could, in theory, be a major step forward for Republicans. Couple this machine with GOP fundraising numbers at record levels, and Republicans believe they can significantly strengthen their chances in elections down the road long into the future.