Former U.S. President Donald Trump have refunded more than 10 billion won to donors, who were misled by his deceptive donation tactics online.
According to The New York Times (NTY) on Monday, former President Trump and the Republican Party have returned 12.8 million dollars to donors in the first half of this year. This is over 20 percent of the 56 million dollars (approx. 64.4 billion won) they have raised online this year.
Prior to the presidential election in last September, Trump and his party introduced a new online fundraising tactic, where they pre-checked a box on a pop-up message, opting donors into automatic recurring contributions. Donors had to uncheck the box to prevent weekly withdrawals but that part was written in fine print buried beneath lines of bold and long propaganda text. Many of the donors, who were not familiar with digital technologies, made donations without knowing that withdrawals are made every week.
The Trump camp raised a lot of money in a short period of time using such tactics but complaint calls and refund requests soon began to pour in. “It’s pretty clear that the Trump campaign was engaging in deceptive tactics,” said Peter Loge, professor at George Washington University. “If you have to return that much money you are doing something either very wrong or very unethical.”
The pre-checked recurring box has been widespread among Republicans. Republican senators, who raised funds using pre-checked boxes early this year in runoffs in Georgia, had to return 10.4 million dollars out of a total of 68.5 million raised until the end of June.
As the controversy surrounding the pre-checked recurring box kept growing, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) unanimously asked Congress to stop such practice. The Democratic Party has banned the use of such fundraising practice.
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