“Governor DeSantis is still fighting the corrupt left”, read an email that came under a logo using the DeSantis name. “No matter how bad this country is, the Fake News media and Biden Admin are OBSESSIONED with it [sic] Florida is doing fine.
He added, “It’s time to help America’s No. 1 Governor. Can we count on you to support DeSantis?
The move seems to have worked, especially among retired older donors across the country. Some of Aguilar’s WinRed emails, like the one about DeSantis, were sent in November, just before the Jacksonville-based candidate’s campaign saw nearly 16 times as much money in December, according to fundraising records. countryside. Yet some of the people who sent in contributions had no idea they were giving to Aguilar.
“I don’t know that name,” Pat Medford, an 88-year-old Minnesota woman, said in an interview when asked about her gifts to Aguilar. “Of course, I give to President Trump and DeSantis, but that’s really it. I don’t give to many others, and this name [Aguilar] unfamiliar to me.”
Although he doesn’t know him, records show Medford made 30 separate campaign contributions to Aguilar through WinRed, totaling more than $1,000.
WinRed found the emails misleading and, in an email to POLITICO this week, said Aguilar had been banned from using its service.
“This account has intentionally misled people by claiming to be, among others, Donald Trump, Ron Desantis and Jim Jordan,” a WinRed spokesperson said in a statement disclosing the suspension. “WinRed won’t let that happen, so several months ago we took action by shutting it down.”
Aguilar’s campaign declined to comment for this article. The DeSantis campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did Trump’s and Jordan’s spokespersons.
Aguilar only raised $15,000 during a 2020 congressional bid, but previously reported raising $1 million for his 2022 run. Of that, three personal loans total $405,200, according to reports. campaign finance. He has yet to file his nominee financial disclosure report, so it’s unclear where the loans came from. Aguilar lists an additional $219,326 in unit contributions and $398,553 in itemized contributions, the majority of which are small dollar contributions from out-of-state donors, typically the type of money raised through a platform like WinRed.
Of the detailed contributions, more than 95% come from those listing a “retired” occupation, according to the records.
POLITICO reached out to more than a dozen out-of-state donors listed as having made multiple contributions to Aguilar’s campaign, and a few who responded said they didn’t know who he was or what their money was for. had ended up in his campaign coffers.
“I didn’t do it to him,” said Donna Dalelio, a Virginia retiree who is listed as having made 30 contributions — some as recently as March — to Aguilar through WinRed totaling more than $700. “I would have given President Trump, but he’s not the one I recognize.”
Tena Carter, a business owner in Wilmot, Arkansas, said in an interview that she was a big fan of DeSantis and was “awed by everything he did” in Florida. But she contributed to Aguilar’s campaign through WinRed with no intention of doing so, even though campaign finance records show she gave nearly $500 to his campaign in 20 separate installments.
“It’s a little concerning,” she said. “I had no papers on him [Aguilar]or something like that.
Another batch of emails from Aguilar it looks like they came from Trump and said the former president was leaving WinRed because “I’ve been at war with Big Tech!”
The email added, “Cut $5 to help President Trump smash his monthly goal!”
Neither the DeSantis-themed nor the Trump-themed emails mentioned Aguilar, a businessman and Navy veteran, or that the money sent by them would go to his campaign. Neither Trump nor Jordan have endorsed a primary candidate for Florida’s 4th congressional district.
Emails claiming Trump was leaving the platform are what sparked an investigation of Aguilar by WinRed, according to two people familiar with the issue.
DeSantis has not officially endorsed Bean, but the two are seen as allies and Bean pushed legislation championed by DeSantis in the 2022 legislative session. Aguilar ran for the same congressional seat in 2020, but has was easily defeated in the GOP primary by the Republican Rep. John Rutherford, which won 80% of the vote. Due to the redistricting, Rutherford takes a new seat, leaving Bean, Aguilar and a handful of other candidates to run in a heavily Republican open seat.
On Twitter, Aguilar has repeatedly bragged about the number of small contributions he has garnered compared to his opponents.
“A little campaign info. I run against half a dozen opponents and not one has lifted a dime from a single person,” he tweeted on May 31.
“I have $575,000 from small donors,” he continued. “We have to drain the swamp!”