Politico reports that in their efforts to win over a possibly decisive sliver of black voters ahead of November’s election, Trump backers employing a blunt and legally shady strategy: giving people cash.
Last month, prominent black Trump supporters gathered at an event in Cleveland, during which attendees participated in a ticket drawing. Winners received envelopes stuffed with hundreds of dollars. The confab was organized by Urban Revitalization Coalition, a 501(c)3 charitable organization headed up by Darrell Scott. More details from Politico:
The first cash giveaway took place last month. Another was scheduled in Virginia for Martin Luther King Day before being scrapped amid a dispute with the college set to host the event. Organizers say they plan to roll out a tour schedule featuring more events soon.
The group’s “Christmas Extravaganza” event in Cleveland last month featured a $25,000 giveaway and an appearance by Ja’Ron Smith, a deputy assistant to the president. A Cleveland native who worked on Trump’s criminal justice reform, Smith is among the highest-ranking black officials in the White House.
At the event, which also featured an appearance by television personality Geraldo Rivera, Lanier compared the investigative scrutiny faced by Trump to the plight of wrongfully incarcerated black men. He also defended Trump’s record on race.
The “give voters money” strategy is certainly unseemly, but it might also not be on the level, since charities like Urban Revitalization Coalition are governed by rules that specify they must spend funds on charitable purposes, and it’s unclear whether the Trump events clear that threshold. The appearance of the Politico story is likely to ramp up scrutiny of the events further.
President Trump only won 8 percent of black voters in 2016. But black turnout had decreased significantly from 2012 and 2008, when President Obama was on the ballot, including in key swing states like Wisconsin. A small shift in the balance could help Trump pick off the states he’ll need to win to secure reelection — though Ohio, where the first event was held, and Virginia, where the second was planned, are considered solidly Republican and Democratic, respectively.
Whatever the technical legality or political effectiveness of the cash giveaways, the tactic is yet another reminder of what this president can get away with compared to the previous one.