Politics

GOP Chooses Silicon Valley Censors To Power Major Fundraising Tool

(Shutterstock/ vchal)

Saurabh Sharma Contributor

The platform Republican officials tout as the future of their fundraising operation will be powered by a company with a sordid history of censoring unpopular political speech and ties to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

WinRed, the new small dollar donation platform that was announced by the Republican National Committee last week, seeks to be the right’s answer to ActBlue, a 15-year-old fundraising juggernaut on the left that helped the Democratic Party raise an unprecedented $1.6 billion in the 2018 midterm elections. Over $700 million of that was processed by ActBlue.

Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar speaks at her midterm election night party in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Miller

Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar speaks at her midterm election night party in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Miller

What differentiates WinRed however, is that it does not directly interface with banks or credit card companies like ActBlue or its competitors like Anedot, a non-partisan donation platform, and instead relies on an intermediary payment processor called Stripe.

Stripe provides the infrastructure that allows WinRed to accept credit card payments from small donors, but the company has a checkered history with arbitrarily restricting use of its platform.

Last year, after a major wave of censorship waged by Patreon, which is powered by PayPal, many online content creators went to alternatives, like MakerSupport. Soon after consumer interest in these market alternatives spiked however, Stripe withdrew support of these platforms, leaving thousands of donors and creators in limbo. Stripe has also withdrawn support from alternative social media platform Gab, leading them to create their own blockchain-based alternative. (RELATED: Firearms Merchant Files Class Action Lawsuit Against PayPal And Other Payment Processors)

Digital civil liberties organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have sounded the alarm about companies like Stripe. In a comment to Breitbart News last year, a spokesman for EFF said, “EFF is deeply concerned that payment processors are making choices about which websites can and can’t accept payments or process donations … this can have a huge impact on what types of speech are allowed to flourish online.”

Stripe is deeply mired in the culture of Silicon Valley. In 2018 employees of the company donated over $200,000 to political causes, over 95% of which went to Democrats and Democrat-aligned causes. Additionally, one of their founding engineers, Saikat Chakrabarti, left the company in 2013 and went on to become a major political activist in his own right.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) listens during a House Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee hearing on confronting white supremacy at the U.S. Capitol on May 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. During the hearing, subcommittee members and witnesses discussed the impact on the communities most victimized and targeted by white supremacists. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 15: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) listens during a House Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee hearing on confronting white supremacy at the U.S. Capitol on May 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. During the hearing, subcommittee members and witnesses discussed the impact on the communities most victimized and targeted by white supremacists. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Chakrabarti founded a litany of left-wing political groups including Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress that aim to defeat centrist Democratic elected officials in primaries and replace them with more ideologically pure left-wingers. After the 2018 election cycle, Chakrabarti was chosen to be Chief of Staff to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who successfully primaried a multiple-term incumbent in Democratic leadership, with significant help from groups like Justice Democrats. (RELATED: 30-Year Democratic Congressman Gets Progressive Challenger Backed By Justice Democrats)

Using an intermediary like Stripe not only places what the RNC claims will be a major cornerstone of Republican campaign infrastructure in the hands of a Silicon Valley censor, but also will lead to less dollars going from donors to recipients, due to the cut of each transaction that Stripe receives.

In the weeks since WinRed’s announcement, competitors have begun to emerge, including a platform called Give.GOP which utilizes a non-Silicon Valley based payment processor that has been used by the majority of Republicans for many years.

WinRed and Stripe did not respond to request for comment from The Daily Caller as of press time.