Like many of you, I’m sure, I receive any number of unsolicited fundraising requests in my email inbox on a daily basis. They mostly come from Republican/conservative people and organizations, though I do seem to have shown up on a couple of Democratic mailing lists somehow. Two of the most common ones I get these days are from various outlets associated with the RNC and from former President Trump’s Save America PAC. The similarities between the two are notable because many of the RNC mailers refer explicitly to Donald Trump, urging potential donors to continue their support for the former president by kicking in some additional cash. As it turns out, Donald Trump has noticed this activity as well, and he’s not pleased about it. His attorneys recently sent a cease and desist letter to three of the largest GOP fundraising organizations warning them against using his name or likeness without prior authorization. (The Hill)
Former President Trump is pressing Republican Party organs to stop using his name and likeness for fundraising and merchandise sales.
Two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to The Hill that lawyers for Trump sent cease-and-desist letters Friday to the Republican National Committee (RNC), the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
The three groups are the largest fundraising bodies for the Republican Party.
I see some people criticizing this decision online, but it’s actually pretty understandable. When Donald Trump was in the White House, there really wasn’t much of an option to block party organizations from fundraising off of his name and image. As the titular head of the party, the GOP needed to raise money not just for the president, but for the many elected officials who would presumably be supporting the President’s agenda. Separating the two would have been a complicated and likely costly process.
But now Donald Trump is back to being a private citizen. (For a few years, at least.) He’s also a businessman who has been managing his own brand and image for a very long time. As such, the various Republican Party fundraising organs can’t simply plaster his name and image all over the place and collect money off of them without his approval. Given the current relationships between Trump and some of the Republicans who were, shall we say… less enthusiastic in their support of him, that approval can’t be assumed in all cases.
Unfortunately for the party, this could produce an additional negative impact on their overall fundraising. The 45th President remains very popular among a large swath of conservatives and their enthusiasm allowed Donald Trump to raise massive amounts of campaign cash all through his presidency. Now the RNC is not only competing with Trump’s PAC for those dollars, but they’re not being allowed to try to latch on to his popularity to meet their fundraising goals.
Barely a day goes by when I don’t see one or more opinion pieces published admonishing the Republican Party for not “moving on from Trumpism.” Those from the Never Trump camp seemed to believe that once Joe Biden was in office, Trump would simply fade back into his old life and he could simply be ignored, returning American politics to what it was before Donald Trump came down that golden escalator. The problem is, there has been absolutely no sign of anything like that happening thus far. Only one person can say when the Trump Show is over, and he’s currently living at Mar-a-Lago.
I realize I’ve pointed this out here before, but it really does bear keeping in mind. Let’s just say that at some point in the near future, Donald Trump decides he’s had enough of Washington and the swamp and just ditches it all. That doesn’t mean that things will be going back to the “old normal” even then. The reason for this is that Donald Trump wasn’t the cause of all the changes we saw. He was a symptom. And there are still a lot of people out there – including people that conservative causes rely on for fundraising – who are not at all ready to go back to the way things used to be.