Former President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE's campaign and the Republican Party returned around $12.8 million to donors in the first six months of 2021, The New York Time reported.
It was previously reported in April that Trump's reelection campaign had refunded around $122 million to donors in 2020. Recently released federal records have revealed that the Trump campaign has so far returned $135 million to campaign donors.
Shortly before Election Day last year, Trump's campaign made recurring payments the default option on its donation website, meaning that people had to uncheck the option to avoid being charged weekly.
The Times found that the campaign had attempted to obscure this detail by placing it in the fine print beneath multiple lines of bolded and capitalized text
The campaign also added a second pre-checked box that doubled a donor's donation along with new lines of text that distracted readers from what they were agreeing to.
Trump's reelection campaign reportedly withdrew more than $3,000 in less than a month from one donor who was in hospice care and had donated $500 in September.
The Federal Election Commission unanimously voted in May to recommend that Congress ban campaigns from pre-checking boxes as the Trump campaign did. The Times noted that other GOP lawmakers, including former Republican Georgia Sens. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerDraft Georgia congressional lines target McBath, shore up Bourdeaux Warnock picks up major abortion rights group's endorsement in reelection bid Trump endorses Hershel Walker for Georgia Senate seat MORE and David PerdueDavid PerdueDraft Georgia congressional lines target McBath, shore up Bourdeaux Trump stokes GOP tensions in Georgia GOP sees Biden crises as boon for midterm recruitment MORE, also used pre-checked boxes in their respective reelection campaigns.
Shortly after the FEC's recommendation was made, Senate Democrats introduced a bill to ban the practice of pre-checking boxes for recurring campaign donations.
In July, The Hill reported that four attorneys general were looking into the practice of pre-checking boxes. The investigations are being carried out by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D), Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith EllisonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats to scale back agenda Minnesota AG ups charges against ex-police officer in shooting of Daunte Wright Trump campaign, RNC refund donors another .8 million in 2021: NYT MORE (D) and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D).
These actions by the Trump campaign caused a wave of fraud complaints to credit card companies, the Times reported, with supporters demanding refunds for their unwittingly expanded donations.
“It’s pretty clear that the Trump campaign was engaging in deceptive tactics,” Peter Loge, director of the Project on Ethics in Political Communication at George Washington University, told the Times. “If you have to return that much money you are doing something either very wrong or very unethical.”
The Times previously reported that Trump's campaign has returned more than 10 percent of the $1.2 billion that it raised. President BidenJoe BidenBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Biden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate' MORE's campaign, in comparison, returned about 2.2 percent of donations.