Is there a brilliant ulterior motive behind Trump's baseball card fundraiser?
People on the left and the right have been united in castigating Trump for boasting a "major announcement" that turned out to be a "Donald Trump Digital Trading Card collection," with each card selling for $99. The general belief was that this was a disgraceful grift on his part, one that saw him cashing in on his failing popularity while he still can. A reader, however, emailed me a different suggestion: Trump may have devised a way to circumvent the requirement that a campaign must identify all donors, which can be dangerous for Trump-supporters.
It began on Wednesday, when Trump posted on Truth Social that "AMERICA NEEDS A SUPERHERO! I will be making a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT tomorrow. Thank you!"
People got excited, trying to imagine whether Trump was going to expose the Deep State, sue someone important, or campaign to be speaker of the House (two seats away from the presidency). There was universal shock when Trump announced that he was, in fact, announcing the availability of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), in the form of digital baseball cards showing him as a superhero:
Here's just some of the reaction, first from the Left:
- 7 Great Things About Trump's Incredibly Dumb NFT Announcement
- Donald Trump’s $99 "Digital Trading Card" Is The Saddest Thing I've Ever Seen
And from the right, including the right(ish) and the anti-Trump right:
- Donald Trump's "major announcement" is a cringey line of $99 NFTs — of himself
- Donald Trump Drops His "Major Announcement," and I Can't Stop Laughing
- "Homie basically retired": Trump mercilessly mocked for $99 trading card "grift"
An astute reader suggested to me, though, that Trump is crazy like a fox. He may be circumventing campaign laws, not because they're a problem for him, but because they're a problem for would-be donors.
Image: Screen grab from Trump’s promotional video from CollectTrumpCards.com.
People have learned how dangerous it is to show support for Trump. Once leftists have the federally required list of campaign donors, they dox them. That is, they try to shame individuals, get them fired, or force social isolation upon them. If a business has donated, activists urge people to boycott the business. This effectively dissuades people from exercising their First Amendment right to political speech via campaign donations.
By selling a product, Trump can get money without publicly revealing donors. Even though there are limits on how NFTs can be created and marketed, selling them is still easier than trying to raise campaign funds by moving mugs, t-shirts, and bumper stickers. Importantly, paying for an NFT is not a donation because the buyer is getting something of value in exchange for his money — namely, the NFT, an object with a price freely agreed upon between seller and buyer.
Some will point out that the NFT's FAQs state explicitly that the monies received from the trading cards are not going to Trump or any campaign entity:
NO. These Digital Trading Cards are not political and have nothing to do with any political campaign. NFT INT LLC is not owned, managed or controlled by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, CIC Digital LLC or any of their respective principals or affiliates. NFT INT LLC uses Donald J. Trump's name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Digital LLC, which license may be terminated or revoked according to its terms.
Keep in mind, though, that money is fungible. There is nothing to stop NFT INT LLC from donating a substantial portion of the money it makes to...Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
Think of what's going on here as the Hunter "the Artist" Biden approach to fundraising. Who believes that the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid for Hunter's craptastic amateur poster work aren't finding their way into Joe Biden's pockets in exchange for political favors? If you raised your hand, I've got some of my own craptas...er fantastic artwork to sell you.
To add more credibility to the idea that Trump has figured out a legal way to allow people to donate to him without risk, look at what people get for their purchases. There's the sure thing: "BUY 45 DIGITAL TRADING CARDS AND YOU ARE GUARANTEED A TICKET TO A DINNER WITH THE PRESIDENT." There's also a sweepstake (which you can enter without a purchase) with prizes including that dinner with Trump, meeting Trump at Mar-a-Lago, golfing with Trump, etc.
Of course, assuming that this theory is true (and it is only a theory), the rules prevent Trump from acknowledging what he's doing, and, so far, no one in the media world, left or right, seems to have thought of it. Still, people who'd like to see Trump finally get his second term may be hoping that this theory is exactly what's happening and, free from dangerous doxxing eyes, they may be planning to buy their "Donald Trump Digital Trading Card."