After the online Democratic platform ActBlue helped raise a record-breaking number of small-dollar donations for some Democratic candidates, Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are calling for lawmakers to review the sources of the money.
Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently questioned ActBlue’s source of small-dollar contributions after witnessing record-breaking donation dollars flood his state of South Carolina, where he is running for reelection against Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.
Harrison greatly outraised Graham in the third quarter of 2020, setting a new record for any senator by collecting more than $57 million. Graham collected $28 million during the same period.
ActBlue, a nonprofit founded in 2004, provides an online fundraising platform for Democratic candidates at all levels of government, progressive organizations, and nonprofits.
“Some of these shadowy figures out there running ads, is there any foreign influence afoot?”
“Where is all this money coming from? You don’t have to report it if it’s below $200,” he said. “When this election is over with, I hope there will be a sitting down and finding out, ‘OK, how do we control this?’ It just seems to be an endless spiral.”
“It is hard to believe that at a time when the U.S. unemployment rate was less than 4 percent, that unemployed people had $346 million dollars to send to ActBlue for liberal causes,” Pudner said, adding that “4.7 million donations from people without a job ... raised serious concerns.”
“My understanding is that any donation under $200 they don’t even have to identify the donor so obviously there’s a lot of opportunity for mischief,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is also facing tough competition in his state from Democratic challenger M.J. Hegar, who raised $14 million in the third quarter—almost double of Cornyn’s $7.2 million.
ActBlue said the platform set a new record for donations during the third quarter of 2020, seeing a total of $1.5 billion come in.
The fundraising organization said the three biggest days for small-dollar donations came in September, including the donation of more than $70 million after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, more than $66 million raised at the end of the third quarter on Sept. 30, and more than $43 million raised on the day of the first presidential debate.
ActBlue has reported that their donations have multiplied significantly since the last election cycle, going from about $3 million in the third quarter of 2016 to $31 million in the third quarter of 2020.
The organization attributes the increase in donations to the historic events taking place including the death of Ginsburg and the upcoming presidential election.