Klobuchar calls fundraising tactic she used ‘pure fraud’

Klobuchar wants to ban automatically recurring donations. She also signed an email soliciting this exact kind of contribution as recently as last April.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks with attendees at the 2020 Iowa State Education Association Legislative Conference. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said a fundraising tactic that she has used is “just pure fraud” and wants to ban it.

Klobuchar is the primary sponsor of a bill titled “Rescuing Every Contributor from Unwanted Recurrences” (RECUR). Minnesota’s Sen. Tina Smith has also joined her as one of 10 sponsors, none of whom are Republican. The RECUR Act aims to prohibit campaigns from making online donations recurring by default.

“If you have any experience and you look at this, you know that it’s just pure fraud,” Klobuchar said when speaking about auto-recurring donations with The New York Times.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) recommended this practice be prohibited after it was employed by the Trump campaign in 2020, but many Democrat groups and Klobuchar herself have all benefited from the tactic. As recently as April of last year, Klobuchar signed an email sent to her supporters asking them to help fund the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), according to research by the America Rising PAC. This platform uses a pre-checked recurring donation box.

Both Klobuchar and Smith also stand to benefit from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s (DSCC) fundraising, which utilizes this tactic. The same day Klobuchar announced her new bill to ban auto-recurring donations, the DSCC sent an email to all supporters prompting them to make this kind of contribution, per Fox News.

Both the DSCC and DCCC use the ActBlue fundraising platform. ActBlue is the fundraising backbone of the Democratic Party and even acknowledges on its website that many contributions will be auto-recurring unless the donor manually specifies otherwise. Canceling these donations is a lengthy process.

While many Democrats have recently modified their ActBlue accounts to not preselect the recurring donation box, a number of politicians and left-wing causes have been recorded employing the practice. Sen. Jon Ossoff, Stacey Abrams and California Gov. Gavin Newsom are among this group.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison along with the attorneys general from New York, Maryland and Connecticut have all signed on to investigate fundraising platforms that set donations to recur by default. ActBlue confirmed to CNN that it “received an inquiry from these attorneys general and worked with them to provide information that responded to their inquiry” earlier this month.

WinRed, ActBlue’s Republican counterpart, said Ellison showed interest in the fundraising tactic “only when Republicans began challenging the Democrats’ long-held advantage in online fundraising.”