When WinRed, the company that processes nearly all online Republican campaign contributions, recently released its enormous trove of donor data for the first half of the year, donations were conspicuously absent for one presidential candidate: Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.
It was no technical glitch. The DeSantis campaign worked with WinRed in a way that prevented the disclosure of donor information, ensuring that the campaign’s small donors would remain anonymous, according to a person familiar with the campaign.
The arrangement appears to be the first of its kind for a presidential campaign since WinRed’s founding four years ago and could presage a return to an era in which far less information on small donors is made public, at least for Republicans.
Representatives for Mr. DeSantis declined to describe details of the arrangement. The person familiar with the campaign said the aim was to prevent other campaigns from poaching Mr. DeSantis’s donors.
But the move has other effects, including obscuring exactly how many — or how few — online donations Mr. DeSantis has received….
WinRed recently started offering “merchant” accounts, in which the company acts not as a conduit, but as a typical payment processor. Mr. DeSantis’s campaign chose this option, the person familiar with the campaign said, cutting WinRed’s PAC and its disclosure requirements out of the picture.
It appears to be the first time a presidential campaign has opted for this arrangement. The former chief executive of WinRed, Carl Sceusa, is currently the chief financial and chief technology officer of the DeSantis campaign.
The difference in disclosure is vast.