In Tuesday’s post on Dinner with Deadbeat Donald … I featured a report by Judd Legum on a scam run by Trump in which the winner of a contest was to have a meal with Trump. The thing is, it appears that in 15 such contests there were no winners. Now, in a Public post, Judd Legum at popular.info reports an UPDATE: Trump campaign contest to win a meal with Trump was a fraud. Following are excerpts.
A heavily-promoted contest to win breakfast with President Trump in New York City on September 26 was a fraud. The purported winner of the contest, Joanna Kamis, did not have breakfast with Trump. Instead, she was invited to a breakfast at a New York City restaurant that Trump did not attend. Kamis was later permitted to take a photo with Trump.
The promise of breakfast with Trump was used in hundreds of Facebook ads to entice supporters to donate money. The ads were clear that donors would be entered into a contest to share a meal with Trump. “This is your LAST CHANCE to meet me this quarter, and I really want to discuss our Campaign Strategy for the rest of the year with you over breakfast,” Trump said in a Facebook ad in September.
The contest was also promoted extensively over email. A September 20 email to Trump’s list, which reportedly includes at least 20 million people, was sent with the subject line “Breakfast for two.” The email contains a copy of a message Trump allegedly sent to his campaign: "Can you send me an updated list of Patriots who have entered to have breakfast with me in New York City first thing tomorrow morning? Are my top supporters on the list? I really want to get their opinion on my 2020 Campaign Strategy over breakfast.”
The Trump campaign sent at least four other email messages about the breakfast in September with subject lines like “The president really wants to have breakfast with you.”
The revelation of the fraudulent contest comes two days after Popular Information released the results of an investigation of 15 contests the Trump campaign has held to win meals with Trump. While other campaigns enthusiastically promote photos of candidates dining with low-dollar donors, Popular Information could not find evidence that anyone actually won a meal with Trump.
The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for information about contest winners from Popular Information or a reporter from the Washington Post. But when Vanity Fair picked up the story on Monday, Trump communications director Tim Murtaugh tweeted that “people win the contests each time.” Murtaugh, however, did not provide any proof to substantiate his claim.
The controversy continued to gain steam. Richard Painter, a former associate counsel in the Bush White House, told Newsweek that the failure to deliver on the promised meals with Trump could be criminal. “You’re raising campaign cash, you’re lying to people. If you obtain money from people through false pretenses that’s a violation of federal mail fraud and wire fraud statutes,” Painter said.
Under numerous state laws, the Trump campaign is required to provide the winner of each contest upon request. That’s why the Trump campaign’s official rules of each contest state it will do so if you send a self-addressed stamped envelope.
REQUESTING RULES, NAME OF WINNER, OR DESCRIPTION OF PRIZE: To receive a written copy of the Promotion rules, the name of the Promotion winner, or a description of the Prize, please send your request and a self-addressed and stamped return envelope to Trump Make America Great Again Committee, 138 Conant Street, 2nd Floor, Beverly, MA 01915.
(Some contests list a different address.)
But a New York Times reporter, Katie Rogers, revealed on Tuesday that she had sent “several letters” via this process but did not receive a response. The Trump campaign’s failure to respond likely violates state law.
In Texas, for example (Texas Business and Commerce Code § 621.204.):
A person who conducts a contest shall, at the end of the contest period, provide to any person who requests the information:
(1) the names of all major prize winners; and
(2) the prizes won by each winner.
Legum notes that “Similar laws exist in Tennessee and Maryland, among many others. Trump’s contest was open to residents of all 50 states, so it must comply with the laws of all 50 states.”
Popular Information has made its own request for the names of winners and [Scriber] will keep you updated as this scandal continues to unfold.