Adam Schiff Fundraises Small-Dollar Donations Fueled By Trump Rage

Adam Schiff Fundraises Small-Dollar Donations Fueled By Trump Rage

Republicans might want to take note—the effort to fund ‘the resistance’ through an online platform is growing and in some cases succeeding.
D.C. McAllister
By

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff has taken to begging for money on Twitter to help him battle “bullies” on the “far right” who are attacking him for his role in the leaky Russian investigation.

Through the online fundraising platform ActBlue, Schiff is pleading with donors to help him “focus on the day to day work in Washington and in the District” while “Trump and his friends at Breitbart” go after him for “standing up for what’s right.”

It’s not really clear how he plans to use the money, but he is spending a lot of time in front of the camera downplaying the Devin Nunes memo, engaging in Twitter wars, and stoking the fires of Trump-Russian collusion theories that he has touted for months as a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Trump and Schiff have been locked in a battle of tweets since the memo was released, with the president calling him “Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office” and who “is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information.”

It’s true—Schiff has indicated in the past that he would be interested in running for a higher office. No doubt any funds that come through the ActBlue pipeline might help make that dream come true.

The congressman responded to the president’s tweet with a snide retort worthy of a locker room catfight: “Mr. President, I see you’ve had a busy morning of ‘Executive Time.’ Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the TV and helped solve the funding crisis, protected Dreamers or…really anything else.”

ActBlue Focuses On Many Small Donations

ActBlue, which says it raises funds for Democrats and progressives mostly from grassroots donors, has been successful in hauling in millions for various candidates and causes since it started in 2004. Last year, it helped Doug Jones win his battle for the Alabama Senate seat against Roy Moore. The company says donors are motivated to help “embattled” politicians like Schiff because “they really see their contributions as an act of resistance.”

When the House GOP voted to repeal the ACA, they jeopardized the health and security of millions of Americans. In many cases, the Republicans who voted for Trumpcare don’t have a challenger yet, or have several primary candidates going up against them. But when the results came in, small-dollar donors were clamoring to take action and do whatever they could to fight back and defeat them in 2018. We heard them loud and clear and quickly came up with a powerful solution to help them amplify their voices.

Our team was all hands on deck on the day of the Trumpcare vote, working to get nominee funds set up for every congressional district that had a Republican incumbent.

We created a single contribution form listing all of the nominee funds in response to interest on Twitter, and helped groups like Daily Kos and Swing Left create similar forms with specific slates of vulnerable districts. All together, these nominee fund pages raised more than $2 million in under 24 hours. Contributing to nominee funds allowed supporters to channel some of their anger, and those donors helped bring our sitewide total for the day up to $4.2 million.

ActBlue has been criticized by conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz, who compared it to big political donors during a debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders, but according to RealClear Politics, it raises most of its money from small donors—something Republicans have been unsuccessful at doing, with the exception of Ben Carson during the presidential campaign.

Hundreds of committees representing candidates—including, most recently, now-Sen. Doug Jones—parties, super PACs, and advocacy organizations have used ActBlue to raise money. The site has thousands of particular fundraising pages. It excels at encouraging small, but repeat, donations. (By getting contributors to provide credit-card and other information necessary to set up a permanent personal file, it relieves donors of the burden of having to re-enter their information each time they want to make a contribution.)

ActBlue says it has been so successful because many Democratic insiders have willingly given over online fundraising to the company, which Republican insiders aren’t so keen to do.

Enabling small-dollar donors to participate transparently and consequentially in the fundraising process only enhances democratic accountability. It’s the opposite of the shadowy system of billionaire-financed campaigning that’s kept the Republican nomination process going for so long…

A tool like ActBlue for the right only worsens that problem. It would empower exactly the sort of candidates and donors the GOP establishment doesn’t want empowered. Their highly insular fundraising networks are one of the only ways they have to keep the wolves at bay; their stranglehold on congressional leadership positions is another. Access to the former is the key to the latter. Until the tension between GOP activists and elites is resolved, Republican attempts to replicate our platform will continue to founder, or limp along as particularly sad patches of astroturf.

Energy Gets Results

During the presidential election, 88 percent of contributions to Sanders came from small donations. Republicans might want to take note—the effort to fund “the resistance” through an online platform is growing and in some cases succeeding.

ActBlue’s success is reminiscent of the success of the Tea Party as it ushers in local, state, and national victories from grassroots movements. Tea Partiers were motivated by high taxes and too much spending under George W. Bush, which continued and accelerated with Barack Obama. Their energy caught fire and brought about change even to the election of Trump.

Now, Democrats are energized by their opposition to Trump, something that should not be dismissed as a mere temper tantrum. Reactionary politics and fundraising have a habit of redirecting the course of our nation. This should serve as a cautionary tale to all Republicans, especially those who oppose grassroots movements and fundraising. It’s needed as much now as ever, especially with every entrenched politician herding cash cows when he’s facing possible exposure.

Like any politician who loves access to easy cash, Schiff wants capitalize on this moment and take advantage of a program as he finds himself buffeted by accusations of leaking intelligence information, and being a self-serving politician capitalizing on this moment to reach higher office. For now, “Little Adam Schiff” is looking for big bucks to keep his personal resistance to Donald Trump going, and if ActBlue’s track record stays on course, he just might do it.

Denise C. McAllister is a journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a senior contributor to The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter @McAllisterDen.

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