As 2024 GOP Debate Approaches, Candidates Get Innovative with Donor Attraction

by Gabriel Martinez
2024 GOP Candidates Fundraising Tactics

The clock is ticking with just six weeks remaining until the initial 2024 Republican presidential debate. Several candidates are employing inventive methods to increase their donor base and secure their spot on the stage.

Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur, has introduced a system that allows those who fundraise for his campaign to retain 10% of the amount collected from others. Governor of North Dakota, Doug Burgum, is reciprocating campaign donations, even those as low as $1, with $20 Mastercard or Visa gift cards. Meanwhile, businessman Perry Johnson is providing copies of his book for those who contribute to his campaign.

These unique tactics have been deployed to fulfill the Republican National Committee’s rule that debaters must secure funding from at least 40,000 nationwide donors to participate in the August 23 debate in Milwaukee. For lesser-known aspirants compared to ex-President Donald Trump or Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, this is a considerable challenge.

This strategy underscores the crucial role the debate stage plays in offering less prominent candidates within a large pool the chance to gain media attention, spread their message, and connect with voters.

Dan Weiner, a lawyer and director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Elections and Government Program, has observed an increase in “unorthodox fundraising” methods, with candidates trying innovative tactics, fully aware of the potential for Federal Election Commission (FEC) intervention if legal or ethical issues arise.

Weiner commented, “Frequently, these strategies raise queries about their proximity to legal boundaries. I’m skeptical, though, whether the FEC will act on it.”

Ramaswamy has introduced the “Vivek Kitchen Cabinet” plan, aimed at “democratizing” the fundraising process by enabling fundraisers to retain 10% of the funds they generate for his campaign. As of Tuesday, over 1,000 people have registered for this initiative, according to his campaign.

Wealthy former software entrepreneur and current second-term North Dakota governor, Burgum, has launched a program offering gift cards as a criticism of President Joe Biden’s economic policies to more than 50,000 people, slightly over the required donor threshold.

Campaign spokesperson Lance Trover explained that this scheme permits them to secure a debate stage slot while avoiding additional advertising costs on social media platforms perceived as antagonistic towards conservatives. The campaign anticipates reaching its 50,000-card limit by the weekend’s conclusion.

However, campaign finance attorney Paul S. Ryan suggests that Burgum’s repayment structure seems to clearly contravene campaign finance law, referring to gift card recipients as “straw donors.” Burgum’s campaign maintains that the fundraising mechanism has undergone legal review and approval. The FEC refrained from commenting on the legality of Burgum’s plan on Friday.

Johnson, a wealthy yet largely unfamiliar Michigan businessman, disclosed last month his plan to offer copies of his book, “Two Cents to Save America”, to those donating to his campaign.

Previous campaigns have utilized giveaways and gift cards in both presidential races and other elections. As the 2024 election edges closer and the debate thresholds increase, Weiner anticipates that campaign strategies will continue to evolve and get more inventive.

“The campaigns are just beginning to gain momentum, and such tactics are more frequently witnessed with rising candidates,” Weiner stated. “There should be some flexibility for campaigns to be creative.”

Reach out to Meg Kinnard at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about 2024 GOP Candidates Fundraising Tactics

What are the GOP candidates doing to boost their donor numbers for the 2024 debate?

Candidates such as Vivek Ramaswamy, Doug Burgum, and Perry Johnson are employing creative methods to increase their donor numbers. Ramaswamy is allowing fundraisers to keep a portion of the funds they collect, Burgum is offering gift cards in exchange for campaign donations, and Johnson is giving out copies of his book to donors.

What is the donor requirement to participate in the 2024 Republican debate?

The Republican National Committee has a requirement that to participate in the debate, candidates need to raise funds from at least 40,000 donors from across the country.

What is the “Vivek Kitchen Cabinet” plan?

The “Vivek Kitchen Cabinet” plan is a fundraising initiative introduced by Vivek Ramaswamy. The plan allows fundraisers to keep 10% of the funds they generate for his campaign, aiming to democratize the fundraising process.

What is the controversy around Doug Burgum’s fundraising method?

Doug Burgum’s method of offering gift cards in exchange for campaign donations has raised legal concerns. Campaign finance attorney Paul S. Ryan suggests that Burgum’s method seems to contravene campaign finance law, referring to gift card recipients as “straw donors”.

Have giveaways and gift cards been used in previous campaigns?

Yes, giveaways and gift cards have been used in previous campaigns, both in presidential races and other elections. Examples include Bruce Rauner’s gubernatorial campaign in 2014 and Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign in 2020.

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Jane Smith July 16, 2023 - 5:28 pm

can’t believe what lengths these candidates are going to, just to get on stage! The 2024 race is gonna be interesting, thats for sure!

RonPaul4ever July 17, 2023 - 12:38 am

I can’t help but see a double standard here. Where was this scrutiny when Democrats were doing the same? Just saying…

Tom_Hiker1983 July 17, 2023 - 5:37 am

Didn’t Yang do something similar last time around? Dunno how I feel bout these strategies, feels a bit like buying votes tbh :/

OldSchoolRep July 17, 2023 - 7:49 am

Back in my day, politics was simpler… these new fangled tactics just seem like tricks and gimmicks to me!

Concerned_Citizen July 17, 2023 - 11:34 am

I’m really concerned about the legality of all this. These tactics seem really close to the edge of the law…

FreedomLover72 July 17, 2023 - 12:12 pm

Ramaswamy’s plan actually sounds like a decent idea – why not let the people raising funds keep some, makes sense.


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