By Shane Goldmacher
Scott Walker has begun selling access to his email list to pay off his leftover presidential debt, renting out the email addresses of hundreds of thousands of supporters to former rivals, including Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. The solicitations arrive as if Walker’s donors magically landed on the lists of his old foes, as they plead for cash for themselves, linking to their own campaign sites.
But there’s a catch.
While it never says so in the emails from his old foes, or anywhere, the money that donors give isn’t necessarily all going to whichever smiling candidate is pictured on the site and writing the email. That is because Walker’s committee has struck secret deals with at least some of his old competitors to split the proceeds — unbeknown to those doing the giving.
It’s part of the presidential campaign’s hidden world of digging for donors online, where so-called revenue-sharing agreements — rev-shares, for short — are skyrocketing in popularity.
“Is that ethical to the donor? I’m not sure,” Vincent Harris, chief digital strategist for Rand Paul’s campaign, said of such pacts. “I can say, if I was the donor, I would probably be pretty upset.”
In the most dramatic and lopsided cases, none of the money that donors give through revenue-sharing email agreements ends up going to the candidate they think they are donating to. Yet campaigns do them anyway. Finding new donors is so valuable, they believe it will pay off over time.
Picture: Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons