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Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel grew visibly emotional during a meeting with senior GOP officials on Wednesday, as she insisted that she isn’t personally profiting off a new, President Donald Trump-endorsed small-donor platform.
McDaniel and other party leaders, including Trump campaign aides, are gathered in Charlotte, N.C., for the RNC’s annual three-day summer meeting. They are slated to discuss a range of issues, including the launch of WinRed, a vehicle designed to compete with the Democratic small-donor juggernaut ActBlue.
The party chairwoman choked up as she kicked off a closed-door panel discussion on WinRed by addressing ongoing rumors that she and other RNC officials are poised to personally benefit from the new platform. At one point, McDaniel said the only money she is making is her RNC salary.
McDaniel’s remarks, which were confirmed by three people briefed on the 90-minute meeting, came amid escalating tensions over WinRed within the party. Republican leaders are determined to make WinRed the sole online donation platform for the party, and they are taking an uncompromising approach with those who’ve been reluctant to get on board with the new program — which has rankled segments of the party rank and file.
Those close to McDaniel say she hadn’t initially planned on defending herself during the meeting, which was called to answer questions RNC members had about WinRed. But she and top aides to the president have grown aggrieved in recent days amid questions over who will profit from the new donor platform. At one point in the meeting, McDaniel referenced an anonymous email sent to reporters on Tuesday which called the RNC a “socialistic bully” and alleged an array of ethical problems with the platform.
The RNC and the Trump campaign released separate statements on Wednesday saying no one working for them was profiting off WinRed.
Those present said the meeting largely revolved around technical matters after the early excitement. Among those joining the presentation were WinRed president Gerrit Lansing, Trump campaign digital director Gary Coby and Henry Barbour, board chairman of the GOP data firm Data Trust.
RNC officials say over 430 conservative candidates, groups and causes have signed up to use WinRed. They spent part of the meeting outlining new financial incentives for adopters of the platform and highlighted the platform’s early successes, at one point noting that Trump used WinRed last week to raise money for the Kentucky GOP.
GOP leaders made creating a partywide small-donor platform a priority after the party’s drubbing in the 2018 election. And Republicans argued that the entire the party would need to coalesce behind it — much as Democrats almost universally use ActBlue.
That posture has inflamed tensions with Paul Dietzel, a Republican digital strategist who oversees a rival payment processor called Anedot, which has been widely used by Republican campaigns and committees in recent years. The RNC sent Dietzel a cease-and-desist letter about a new donation website he created earlier this month, and the committee has said it will withdraw funding for any campaign or organization that uses a non-WinRed platform — including Dietzel’s.
Dietzel has taken an aggressive posture, deriding the national party’s all-hands embrace of WinRed as tantamount to socialism.
The hostilities show no sign of abating. Party officials say Dietzel submitted a request to attend the RNC meeting, but it was denied because it came around the same time as the cease-and-desist letter.
Dietzel declined to address questions about the snub on Wednesday but said he was in Charlotte to make himself “available to our customers should anyone need anything.”