Why The GOP Wants To Break Your Spam Filter: GOP Candidate Tricked Gullible Voters Into Funding Him With Misleading Spam Emails
from the the-gop-takes-you-all-for-suckers dept
Over the last few months we’ve been covering this bizarre story of how Republican politicians, pushed by their preferred spamming provider (which misrepresented a study on how email providers treat political spam), have been falsely claiming that Google is “censoring” their political emails. They’ve also been pushing a law that would require email providers not to label politician emails as spam. In response, Google caved a bit and proposed a new offering that would whitelist political campaigns, keeping them out of the spam filter (but including a button at the top asking the recipient if they want to unsubscribe from that mailing). Google asked the Federal Election Commission (FEC), to bless this idea (and specifically to note it wouldn’t be deemed to violate any campaign finance laws).
As we just noted, the public absolutely hates this idea, and their comments to the FEC reflect a visceral hatred towards (1) spam, and (2) politicians who seek to write laws that exempt themselves from laws against spamming.
In other words, this is a deeply unpopular idea that Republicans are pushing because their own digital marketing agency is so bad at crafting emails that don’t look like spam that they have to resort to special laws to keep spamming you.
Indeed, as we noted in some of our coverage, Republican politicians have a long history of especially spam-like emails, which seem designed specifically to dupe gullible people — often older people — out of money.
And now there’s a new story suggesting that this appears to be getting even worse. A Republican candidate for Congress in Florida, Erick Aguilar, has raised a tremendous amount of money by sending email spams pretending to be campaign emails from more popular politicians: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.
In his pursuit of Florida’s 4th Congressional District, Aguilar has used WinRed, a popular platform Republicans employ to process campaign contributions, to send a flurry of fundraising emails. But the solicitations did not mention Aguilar’s campaign or his leading competitor in the Aug. 23 primary, state Sen. Aaron Bean, who has the support of much of the state’s GOP establishment.
Instead, the messages were written in a way that suggested donations would actually go toward more prominent GOP politicians, including the former president, the governor or Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.
“Governor DeSantis is always fighting back against Corrupt Left,” read one email that came under a logo using DeSantis’ name. “No matter how bad this country is the Fake News media and Biden Admin are OBSESSED with that [sic] Florida is doing.”
It added: “It is time to help America’s #1 Governor. Can we count on you to support DeSantis?”
It appears that these tactics have worked, with gullible Trump/DeSantis supporters filling Aguilar’s campaign coffers… without even realizing it.
The move appeared to have worked — particularly among retired older donors from across the country. Some of Aguilar’s WinRed emails, such as the one about DeSantis, went out in November, just before the Jacksonville-based candidate’s campaign saw nearly 16 times as much cash come in in December, campaign finance records show. Yet some of the people who sent contributions had no idea they were giving to Aguilar.
“I don’t know that name,” Pat Medford, an 88-year-old from Minnesota, said in an interview when asked about her donations to Aguilar. “I, of course, give to President Trump and DeSantis, but that’s really it. I don’t give to many others, and that name [Aguilar] is not familiar to me.”
Despite not knowing him, records show Medford gave 30 separate contributions to Aguilar’s campaign through WinRed, totaling more than $1,000.
So, let’s be clear here. Under the GOP bill proposed by John Thune and Google’s proposed pilot program, it appears these emails could not be filtered as spam. They are coming from a legitimate candidate for federal office. That they are misleading and extraordinarily spammy doesn’t much matter to these Republicans, it seems. That these Republicans have to resort to such scammy techniques to dupe gullible voters out of so much money doesn’t matter.
All that seems to matter is that they want more cash from their base, and they consider this the best way to keep Google from actually protecting people.