The Republican Party reaches a historic agreement to boost small dollar fundraising







President Donald Trump speaks at a meeting of the Republican National Committee.

Data Trust, the RNC voter information center, will form a joint venture with Revv, a donation processor used by the Trump campaign. The two entities will form the core of Patriot Pbad. | Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

Elections

& # 39; Patriot Pbad & # 39; is the response of the Republican Party to ActBlue, the online money giant of the Democrats.

By ALEX ISENSTADT

Updated

2019-01-21T07: 45-0500

The political team of President Donald Trump and senior Republican officials have reached a historic agreement to remodel the party's fundraising apparatus and close the financial gap that devastated them in the medium term.

With the agreement, Republicans hope to create a rival for ActBlue, the online Democratic giant for fundraising that took more than $ 700 million in donations of small dollars to the Democratic coffers in the 2018 campaign.

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Republicans have not had a comparable centralized platform to grow small dollars. Since the election, officials such as White House chief aide Jared Kushner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy have insisted privately that the party must give an answer.

After weeks of closed-door discussions, Republicans agreed to create a new platform called Patriot Pbad, which will be used to grow and process online donations. The Republican Party, whose ecosystem of sellers like the jungle has fought bitterly for contracts and dollars, has struggled in the past to create such a unified system.

The agreement, first revealed to POLITICO by officials at the center of the effort, has received the explicit blessing of party leaders. Under the agreement, Data Trust, the information center designated by the Republican National Committee of Voter Information, will form a joint venture with Revv, a donation processor used by the Trump campaign. The two entities will form the core of Patriot Pbad.

As part of the agreement, the Pbadport of Victory, a low-dollar platform widely used by Republican Congress candidates, is expected to eventually close and encourage its clients to use the new platform.

The deep consolidation reflects the urgency facing the Republicans, who recognize that their growing deficit of small donors reached a turning point in 2018. Liberal freed donors channeled money into the House and Senate careers through ActBlue , a centralized and easy to use democratic donations center that allows users to enter their credit card information and contribute to their election candidate with a click.

After seeing dozens of their candidates be overwhelmed on a large scale, Republicans are looking to Patriot Pbad to close the gap. The new tool is expected to be launched next month. While party officials admit that reaching or exceeding the 14-year-old ActBlue will not happen immediately, they contend that they can level the playing field through a platform that can mimic ActBlue's technology.

"Clearly, the Democrats in the congressional elections, not at the presidential level but in the congressional elections in 2018, had an advantage in the donors of small dollars. And then you say, & # 39; Why is that? There was enthusiasm on both sides. "And that's because they had the mechanism to take advantage of and add rocket fuel to that energy," said Mike Shields, senior advisor at Data Trust.

"And, then, this is a system that will take what has been different – campaigns and super PACs and different people who collect donations of small dollars – and will join them to add one over the other and add that same rocket fuel," Shields added.

Those involved in the agreement emphasize that candidates will not be required to use the Patriot Pbad; They can use any other payment processor in the market. It remains to be seen how other firms that do not participate in the agreement, such as Anedot, respond to the news.

Discussions about the launch of an ActBlue counterweight began a few days after the mid-term investigation. McConnell was particularly surprised by the millions that North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp had raised through ActBlue, even when polls showed he was headed for defeat. During a post-election meeting at the party headquarters, he promised the Republican Party workers that he and the chairman of the Republican National Senate Committee, Todd Young (R-Ind.), Had sent Josh Holmes, a senior political adviser. , to help you find a solution.

McCarthy and the chairman of the Republican National Congress Committee, Tom Emmer, began to hold a series of discussions with legislators from the House of Representatives and the main donors of parties in which the issue of the creation of an ActBlue counterweight came up frequently.

The midterms, McCarthy said in an email, "showed how a huge resource gap can flood effective members and promising candidates."

He also asked for a change from Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who invested more than $ 100 million in the partial efforts of the Republican Party and party leaders have relied on them for a long time. Adelson made it clear that Republicans needed to fix their small donor problems.

However, the party had struggled for a long time to find an answer. While Democrats united around ActBlue as a one-stop shop for low-money donations, Republicans had a series of small-donor vehicles overseen by vendors that deeply protected their financial interests.

Gerrit Lansing, co-founder of Revv, said he became aware almost six years ago, while serving as the chief digital strategist in the House of Representatives of the House of Representatives that party entities were simply too fragmented.

"I said:" We need to have one thing that does only one thing with the best technology that exists and that allows a level of adoption that generates great effects in the network and that everyone understands that they can benefit from accessing a platform. " he said. "And that thesis has proven true."

However, what made it particularly difficult at that time was the lack of a Republican president. The absence of a single party leader exacerbated the decentralized and free nature of the digital infrastructure of the Republican Party.

When Trump won the presidency, party officials saw an opportunity. After the partial examinations of 2018, they began to contact the administration to obtain badistance to mediate an agreement.

Kushner, who was interested in the project, hired Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale to help oversee the discussions.

In the coming weeks, those involved in the agreement met at the headquarters of the Trump campaign in Rosslyn, Virginia, to badyze the final details.

"Having Trump in the White House," Parscale said, has provided "the opportunity to sit down in front of all the other leaders and say:" Let's get together and make it better for the ticket below. "

The final details of how Patriot Pbad will work are still being solved. But the participants say that it will have many of the same characteristics as ActBlue. Visitors can send donations with a click to their election candidate. Then, your screen will be repopulated with suggestions from other campaigns to contribute.

The designers also intend to create the capacity for fundraising in tandem, a mechanism that allows candidates to split their donations, and essentially link, to others that have broad grbadroots support. House contenders, for example, may send applications requesting contributions for themselves and for Trump.

Donors will be asked to pay a small processing fee comparable to the 3.95 percent rate imposed by ActBlue. Party officials say Data Trust will use the proceeds to make improvements to the platform.

Once a contribution is completed, the donor's information will be attached to your voter files stored in Data Trust.

After spending months studying ActBlue, party officials say the new company represents the most aggressive effort by the Republican Party so far to confront the Democratic giant, and that they expect Republican candidates to use by 2020.

"It will take a culture change to take us to the next level," Holmes said. "But now we have the infrastructure that will allow us to compete on equal terms."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article erroneously described how much money the ActBlue online platform contributed to the Democratic coffers in the 2018 midterms.


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