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The GOP Has Used All Sorts Of Fundraising Tech, But One Consultant Always Seems To Get Paid

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Saurabh Sharma Contributor

In December 2014, Gerrit Lansing was wrapping up his tenure as the Digital Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the wing of the national GOP dedicated to congressional elections, but he wasn’t done with politics, not by a longshot.

The same month as his departure, Lansing would found Revv, a payment processor that, according to an industry insider, Lansing billed as the conservative alternative to ActBlue, the juggernaut payment processor on the left. ActBlue processed over $700 Million in donations to left-wing causes in the 2018 midterm election and has been credited with powering the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House.

Lansing didn’t have to experience the growing pains of a tech startup the way most entrepreneurs do. Just a few months after launching Revv, he was back in the beating heart of the Republican establishment, as the Chief Digital Officer of Republican National Committee. He would stay there through the 2016 election, collecting clients from his position of power atop the Republican bureaucracy, often using pressure tactics to convince dubious prospects, Politico reported in 2017. (RELATED: GOP Chooses Silicon Valley Censors To Power Major Fundraising Tool)

It paid off, Lansing received $909,000 from Revv in 2016, augmenting his $220,000 salary at the RNC. After his conflict of interest was revealed the RNC said that they weren’t aware of his continued involvement with Revv and that they were committed “to prevent a situation like this from happening again” they told POLITICO in a statement.

US President Donald Trump speaks after his introduction by RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel at a fundraising breakfast in a restaurant in New York, New York on December 2, 2017. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

US President Donald Trump speaks after his introduction by RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel at a fundraising breakfast in a restaurant in New York, New York on December 2, 2017. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

After the 2016 election, where several presidential campaigns, including Trump’s, adopted the fledgling service Revv over more established and widely used competitors like Anedot, Lansing was selected for a top White House job, Chief Digital Officer. He didn’t last long in the position however and left after less than two months because of his unwillingness to divest from his role at Revv.

Revv wasn’t the only Lansing product that the RNC adopted in lieu of other, more established alternatives. 2018 was one of the first elections where peer-to-peer texting, where campaign staffers and volunteers text hundreds and even thousands of phone numbers soliciting support, reached mainstream adoption.

AUSTIN, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 04: Supporters cheer as U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) takes the stage during a campaign rally at the Pan American Neighborhood Park November 04, 2018 in Austin, Texas. As Election Day approaches polls have shown the gap narrow between O'Rourke and his opponent, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 04: Supporters cheer as U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) takes the stage during a campaign rally at the Pan American Neighborhood Park November 04, 2018 in Austin, Texas. As Election Day approaches polls have shown the gap narrow between O’Rourke and his opponent, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Several promising texting services had emerged by the beginning of the 2018 cycle, including CallHub and RumbleUp, but when it came time for the RNC to pick a platform, Opn Sesame, founded by Gerrit Lansing, was chosen. During the 2018 cycle the RNC was by far Opn Sesame’s largest client, paying them almost $4 Million for use of their service.

After leaving the White House, Lansing became a major part of the negotiations that would lead to the creation of WinRed. Like Revv, WinRed has been billed as the conservative alternative to ActBlue, except the impetus for its creation included pressure from GOP megadonors like Sheldon Adelson, and interest from White House officials like Jared Kushner, according to Politico. (RELATED: Is The New Republican Fundraising Platform Just Lipstick On A Pig?)

Lansing is positioned to profit handsomely from his new role, especially considering the intensity with which the RNC is enforcing use of the new platform among its candidates. The emergence of a competitor, Give.GOP, founded by Anedot’s CEO Paul Dietzel has also caused concern among WinRed’s architects, and the RNC is even suing Dietzel for using Republican iconography on his website.

The competition is not the only front on which WinRed is facing issues. As The Daily Caller has previously reported, the entire platform is based on a Silicon Valley-based payment processor with a history of censoring unpopular speech. There are also concerns that WinRed is using an outdated structure that could lead to waste.

The RNC is well positioned to enforce the use of the new platform among its candidates, not least of all because, as the RNC said in a quote to the Daily Caller “WinRed has the full backing of President Trump and his campaign.” Sitting Presidents are often the de-facto leaders of their party, especially first term presidents, who often fuse their campaign apparatus with the party to the point that distinctions between the two entities are hard to make out.

U.S. President Donald Trump reacts to supporters after addressing a Trump 2020 re-election campaign rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

U.S. President Donald Trump reacts to supporters after addressing a Trump 2020 re-election campaign rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Congressional Republicans have already been offered an incentive to switch over, a 30% discount on “dues” the fundraising minimums congressmen are required to meet every election cycle.

WinRed and OpnSesame did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment by press time.