Even as Donald Trump argues in court that the release of his social media platform is “months away,” RNC promises it is launching “THIS MONTH” in fundraising email
A day after the stock of the company partnering to develop former President Trump’s new social media platform fell on news that the release of a beta version of the app is delayed, a fundraising email that bears the stamp “Paid for by the Republican National Committee” appeared to promote the stumbling venture.
“We hope you receive this email because Big Tech may try to CENSOR it,” the email reads. “According to sources, President Trump’s social media platform is launching THIS MONTH and time is running out for you to pledge to join.”
The subject line of the email, sent Tuesday evening, reads “Pledge to join President Trump’s new social media site.” But the call-to-action buttons, which encourage recipients to “pledge to join now,” do not lead to the stub page for TRUTH Social, the promised Trump app, but rather click through to a fundraising page hosted on WinRed, a platform endorsed by the GOP. The call to action is to contribute to the Republican National Committee in order to “show your support for President Trump and Your Party!”
Prior RNC solicitations citing the Trump social media platform were reported by Forbes.
Former Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, who was appointed CEO of the Trump Media and Technology Group late last year, previously disclosed that the app’s release would be delayed until at least March 31.
Meanwhile, a document filed in a federal court on Monday by Donald Trump’s attorneys suggests the launch date for the platform “is still months away.” The document– related to Trump’s lawsuit against Facebook, which suspended his account following his praise of the people participating in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol– says the new Trump platform has been “plagued by problems and delays,” and cites the difficulty of finding the expertise necessary to build it. “Dozens of engineers, cybersecurity specialists, and other technical experts are needed to build a social media platform.”
The document refers to Trump as “the leader of the Republican party.”
Dr. Craig Holman, an expert on ethics and campaign finance rules at the watchdog group Public Citizen, says that while the RNC emails may be “deceptive and unethical,” they likely “do not fall outside the boundaries of the law,” especially if they were approved by the former President.
“The fundraising appeal would only tread near legal lines if the RNC surreptitiously pretended to raise money for Trump, but actually pocketed the money for itself, without Trump’s knowledge or blessing,” said Holman. “But this fundraising appeal seems to bolster both their interests: it raises money for the RNC exploiting the Trump brand, and it provides Trump with greater name recognition and control over the Republican party. I have little doubt this is a campaign of collusion. The donors may not accurately understand who is ending up with their money, but they are giving to support Trump – and that is in fact the result.”
Trump Media and Technology Group joined with the blank-check firm Digital World Acquisition Corp. to raise money on the equity market. Trump reportedly made personal calls to promote the investment opportunity.
Both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) are investigating the deal. According to The Verge, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) encouraged the SEC to investigate, stating in a letter that “Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC) – the Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) that in October 2021 announced its plan to merge with former President Donald Trump’s Trump Media and Technology Group – may have violated securities laws by holding undisclosed discussions about the merger as early as May 2021 while omitting this information in SEC filings and other public statements.”
The stock recovered some lost ground in Tuesday trading.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.