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Desperate for Debate: Why a Republican Candidate Offers $20 Donations for $1 – UnlistedNews

How much is a dollar worth?

For North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a lot.

Mr. Burgum is one of several Republican presidential candidates doing their best to meet a crucial threshold to qualify for the party’s first primary debate on August 23: the requirement that only candidates with at least 40,000 individual donors for their campaigns will be able to participate. stage.

A long shot competitor at the bottom of recent polls, Burgum is offering $20 gift cards to the first 50,000 people who donate at least $1 to his campaign. And one lucky donor, as his Facebook campaign announces, will have a chance to win a Yeti Tundra 45 cooler that normally costs more than $300, just for donating at least $1. The unusual offer was previously reported by FWIW, a newsletter that tracks digital politics.

Mr. Burgum’s push to prioritize donors over real dollars is a sign of the desperation of some candidates to reach the debate stage and wrest some of the national spotlight from Republican frontrunner, former President Donald J. Trump, and his main rival, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Former Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, another Republican candidate, recently ended a campaign ad with a direct on-screen plea: “Donate today, get Chris Christie on the debate stage.”

Mr. Burgum’s campaign recognized that his requests were directly related to the debate and turned the gift card giveaways into attacks on President Biden.

“Doug knows that people are hurting because of Bidenflation, and giving Biden financial aid gift cards is a way to help 50,000 people until Doug is elected president to fix this crazy economy for everyone,” said Lance Trover, Burgum’s campaign spokesman.

Mr Trover added that the efforts allowed the campaign to “secure a place on the debate stage and avoid paying further advertising fees to social media platforms whose owners are hostile to conservatives.”

Kyle Tharp, the author of the FWIW newsletter who reported on the requests, said that as part of his reporting process, he had donated $1 to the Burgum campaign. He did not receive any follow-up information on how he would receive the gift card, he said. the campaign after clarified on Twitter that 50,000 donors would receive a Visa or Mastercard gift card at their mailing address.

The campaign did not respond to a request for comment on how many donors have contributed so far.

The campaign’s cash donations strategy could raise potential legal issues, said Paul Ryan, a campaign finance attorney. Voters who donate in exchange for gift cards, he said, could be considered fake donors because the campaign refunds some or all of their donations.

“Federal law says that ‘no person should make a contribution on behalf of another person,’” Mr. Ryan said. “Here, the candidate is making a contribution to himself on behalf of all these individual donors.”

Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who specializes in election law, said campaigns typically ask the Federal Election Commission when they engage in new forms of donations.

Burgum’s campaign move, he said, “certainly seems novel” and “raises concerns about whether it violates the ban on false donations.”

But part of the legal uncertainty, Hasen added, stems from the fact that “functionally, campaigns spend a lot of money to get small donations, especially in cases like this where they’re trying to reach a debate threshold.”

Burgum is not alone in using his immense wealth, he is a former software executive who sold a company to Microsoft in a $1.1 billion stock deal to bolster his campaign.

Perry Johnson, a businessman who also announced a hopeful offer for the Republican presidential nomination and who ran for Michigan governor last year, has spent between $80,000 and $90,000 on ads promoting $1 hats that say, “I identify as ‘non-bidenarian,'” Facebook logs show. Her campaign said in a recent announcement that it had reached 10,000 donors.

To qualify for the first presidential debate, candidates must have a minimum of 200 unique donors per state or territory in 20 states and territories, according to the Republican National Committee, which sets the rules. They must also rank at least 1 percent in multiple national or state early voting polls recognized by the committee.

Shane Goldmacher contributed reporting.


Sara Marcus
Sara Marcushttps://unlistednews.com
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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