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Matthew Sanderson Weighs in on Campaign Finance

October 9, 2020, Washington Post

One of the professional hazards of being a political journalist is that your email address finds its way onto all sorts of unlikely lists, such as one from President Trump’s reelection campaign. Whereas some campaigns might communicate with supporters for the purpose of grass-roots organizing, the Trump emails I receive have only one purpose: to gin up contributions. And the solicitations are unlike any I’ve ever seen. Tonally, they diverge wildly from those of past presidential campaigns — or from anything that might be termed “presidential” at all.

. . .

Both Matt Sanderson, co-leader of the political law group at Caplin & Drysdale, who works with Republican clients, and the GOP fundraiser stressed that matching has become common among candidates and election committees in both parties. I gathered dozens of email solicitations from Democratic campaigns since 2016 at the presidential, Senate and congressional levels and found no claims of donation matches, although there were a few fundraising ads from left-leaning independent PACs, such as Stop Republicans and End Citizens United, that included them. In 2019, Mother Jones noted that Democratic presidential candidates Cory Booker, Julián Castro and Seth Moulton also used this tactic. A brand-new study by researchers at Princeton University of political fundraising emails from this election cycle reported that out of their pool of more than 100,000 emails, about 13,000 contained some claim of a donation match. The study characterized the claims as “devious and potentially deceptive” because campaign finance experts are skeptical of their veracity.

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