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Donate to a Presidential Campaign, Get Harassed

Giving money to a presidential campaign is one of the most annoying experiences in our democracy.

by Evan McMorris-Santoro
Jun 17 2019, 2:33pm

If you have an email address, chances are a candidate for president has asked you for money. This election cycle, small-dollar donations are especially important for Democrats to reach thresholds set by the DNC to make the debate stage.

Most of these emails get ignored. But what happens if you do what they ask?

We donated a small amount to every campaign for president, Republican and Democrat. Then, we set up a dummy email account to use to track what happened next. Over the course of a week, 138 emails showed up. (Montana Gov. Steve Bullock sent the most, at 13.)

The emails are conversational. They used the first name of the donor 141 times. There were ploys to get you to open them, too.

Sometimes, the emails didn't come from the campaign at all — they came from other names, with subject lines that made them more enticing. Some used humor, some used fear. But they were all after the same thing. More money.

Check out what happens when you give money to a political campaign in 2019.

This segment originally aired June 14, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.