Presidential contender Donald Trump, right, watches Charley Hull during the Women’s British Open golf championship in Scotland on Thursday, July 30. (Photo: Scott Heppell/AP)
The Republican National Committee has offered to share its voter file with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and is waiting to hear back from the businessman’s still assembling operation.
Trump announced his candidacy on June 16. The RNC reached out soon after to offer its voter file — which has the names, voting history and consumer data on roughly 250 million Americans — to the Trump campaign.
The Trump campaign responded just this week, six weeks later, an RNC official said. The Trump campaign’s attorneys are reviewing the data-sharing agreement, which has been offered to all and signed by 11 of the 17 Republican presidential candidates, and hope to return it to the RNC this week.
Every indication is that Trump will enter into the agreement, the RNC said.
Trump’s campaign also announced Thursday that it had hired a political director. Taken together, two things become clear from this news: 1) The Trump campaign launched well before it was ready to from an organizational standpoint, and 2) Trump, who may not have expected to so swiftly become the national polling frontrunner, now appears to be taking his candidacy quite seriously.
Of course, there are limits for a candidate like Trump: On Thursday he was in Scotland to watch the Women’s British Open.
The RNC’s offer to share its file is especially significant in light of the fact that the political operation run by Charles and David Koch, Freedom Partners, has reportedly denied Trump access to its voter file and user interface, called i360.
Politico reported Wednesday that the Kochs were refusing to allow Trump to use their voter data. This was a somewhat ironic demonstration of the very thing the RNC had warned about when it critiqued the Koch political organization on the record for the first time in interviews with Yahoo News last month.
“It’s very dangerous and wrong to allow a group of very strong, well-financed individuals who have no accountability to anyone to have control over who gets access to the data when, why and how,” RNC chief of staff Katie Walsh said in mid-June.
Trump is an interesting test case for this proposition. Undoubtedly, many in the establishment GOP and even inside the RNC would love to deny Trump tools that would allow his campaign to succeed, since he is viewed as an embarrassment by most political professionals, as well as unlikely to win a general-election match-up against Hillary Clinton.
But the RNC, when making its case against the Kochs earlier this year in conversations with Yahoo News, repeatedly said that it would supply its voter file to “anyone with an R next to their name.” Trump’s candidacy, in addition to being an illustration of the danger of a private committee owning the voter data and picking and choosing between candidates, was also a test of the RNC’s devotion to the principle of support for all.
The RNC has lagged behind the Kochs in developing a user interface for volunteers and campaign staffers to access the data collected. As a result, the Kochs have gained an edge in signing up campaigns — and even made inroads with a few state parties — which are supposed to be the most loyal clients of the national committee.
But the RNC chose to come out publicly against the Kochs because its leaders decided there were elements within the Koch organization that wanted to supplant the RNC and to become something of a shadow party entity.
The RNC’s cooperation with the Trump campaign defangs the Kochs’ refusal to share data with Trump, especially since on Wednesday afternoon, the Washington Post reported that the RNC and the Kochs had reached an agreement similar to the one they struck ahead of the 2014 midterm election to share data.
The candidates who have signed the data-sharing agreement with the RNC are: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Those who have declined to sign on with the RNC are: Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former New York Gov. George Pataki, former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.
The RNC is still waiting to hear from Trump and from Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s campaign, a source said.