A new report from The New York Times reveals that the ex-president issued $122.7 million in refunds to his supporters last year, which amounted to 11 percent of the money Trump’s campaign raised. The publication’s findings were based on a review of Federal Election Commission filings.
Beginning last summer, Trump’s campaign and WinRed—the company that handled online donations—added pre-checked recurring payment boxes to online donations. Contributors weren’t aware that they had to manually uncheck the boxes unless they read the disclaimer. If they didn’t check the fine print, then contributors’ credit cards were charged weekly until the day of the election.
In the days before the election, the campaign “made that disclaimer increasingly opaque,” The Times writes, and even added a second pre-checked box that doubled the donation. Banks soon became “inundated with fraud complaints” from Trump supporters who didn’t realize they had agreed to recurring contributions. The Times reports that in late 2020, several banks and one of the U.S.’s leading credit card companies revealed that these cases constituted up to three percent of all fraud complaints.
Jason Miller, a Trump spokesperson, shut down these claims of fraud, telling the publication that internal data concluded that only .87 percent of transactions saw credit card disputes. “The fact we had a dispute rate of less than 1% of total donations despite raising more grass-roots money than any campaign in history is remarkable,” Miller said.
Trump amassed $255.4 million from his supporters in the eight weeks after the election, raising over $2 million per day from early November to Dec. 14, the day the Electoral College vote was finalized. The Trump campaign’s daily average refund in December was $720,000. In comparison, Joe Biden’s campaign refunded 2.2 percent of its 2020 donations.