Some of Donald Trump's allies have appeared to come up with a novel way to appeal to Black voters: hand out cash.
On Wednesday, Politico published an investigation into a group called the Urban Revitalization Coalition, founded by a pair of Black Donald Trump supporters, which held an event in Cleveland last month at which envelopes stuffed with hundreds of dollars in cash were distributed to random audience members.
As Politico noted, some of this may be against the law, since the URC is registered as a 501(c)3 charity. Such organizations can celebrate the work of elected officials but aren't supposed to get involved in electoral politics, a line that a rally in support of the president in an election year arguably crosses.
More concerningly, it's unclear that handing out cash at random at an event really qualifies as charity. The head of the URC, Darrell Scott, a pastor who is one of Trump's most prominent Black supporters, told Politico that the group was in compliance with the law, but Marcus Owens, an expert consulted by the outlet, said, "It's not immediately clear to me how simply giving money away to people at an event is a charitable act." The URC does not disclose its donors, meaning it’s difficult to track where its money has come from.
If the group is aiming to literally buy Black votes for Trump, it's unlikely to have much success. An event at Virginia Union University that would include a $30,000 giveaway was cancelled after a dispute between the school and the URC, Politico reported. Meanwhile, the group's website is a graveyard of broken links. The "donate" button doesn't work, the email address listed as a contact cannot receive email, and the homepage merely displays the group's logo, with no links to navigate to any other page.
The website does feature a long, detailed explanation of "opportunity zones," a Trump administration initiative touted by the group as a way to encourage investment in underserved Black communities. But that program, which was part of the tax cut package passed at the end of 2017, has been widely panned as a giveaway to wealthy real estate developers, many of whom are personal allies of Trump. That seems like a much sweeter deal than a few hundred dollars stuffed into an envelope.
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