Since February 2018, the Trump campaign has held at least 15 sweepstakes aimed at luring potential donors into contributing to the campaign. The contests promise a chance to win breakfast, lunch, or dinner with President Trump in various cities throughout the country – often in cities where Trump was traveling around the time of the particular promotion. The contests further entice individuals into donating to the Trump campaign by promising free airfare, accommodations, and an “EPIC meal” with Trump. Some campaign ads even suggest that contestants can double their odds of winning if they “DONATE NOW.” Although promotions offering opportunities to dine with presidential candidates are not uncommon, Trump’s contests stand out. As journalist Judd Legum writes on Popular Information, Mr. Legum’s investigation of these contests “did not uncover evidence that anyone has ever actually won.”
Though the contests were promoted heavily by way of hundreds of Facebook ads and dozens of emails, according to Mr. Legum, “neither Trump nor the campaign ever publicly disclosed the winners.” Notably, the Trump campaign is legally obligated to disclose the names of the winners, as well as descriptions of the specific prizes they won.
In a tweet, Trump campaign director of communications Tim Murtaugh responded to the allegations by asserting that “people win the contests each time.” Mr. Murtaugh, however, failed to provide any evidence of his claim.
Sweepstakes, including campaign giveaways, are highly regulated by the US Post Office, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Justice, and state law. The applicable laws prohibit any misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive promotions.
Attorneys at Finkelstein, Blankinship, Frei-Pearson & Garber, LLP have successfully recovered millions of dollars on behalf of consumers. We are currently investigating this matter, as well as other consumer protection violations. If you contributed to the Trump campaign with hopes of winning a meal with the president, please contact us to discuss your legal options.