Democratic donations surge after Ginsburg death, top US$100 million

The Biden campaign had refrained from including a fundraising link in an email sent to supporters. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Donations to Democratic candidates and causes surged past US$100 million (S$136 million) on Sunday (Sept 20) following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, showing Democrats' eagerness to fight efforts to seat a new justice before the election.

ActBlue, a key fundraising platform for the left including Joe Biden's campaign against President Donald Trump, took in more than US$103 million between the announcement of Ginsburg's death and just after noon Sunday. Using ActBlue, donors earmark money for Democratic candidates and causes they want to support.

Donors set records for the amount raised in one day on Saturday (Sept 19), giving US$70.6 million, and twice broke the record for donations in one hour. In August, ActBlue brought in US$485.4 million, or about US$15.7 million a day.

"Amid the devastating loss of Justice Ginsburg, it is inspiring to see people taking action to honour her legacy," ActBlue executive director Erin Hill said in a statement, adding that Democratic grassroots donors gave money to return a Democratic majority to the Senate and win the White House and support organisations active in confirmation fights.

It won't be clear which federal candidates and committees have gotten money until ActBlue reports to the Federal Election Commission on Oct 20.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which helps elect state lawmakers, said it also had its best fundraising day Saturday, but did not release any totals.

"Republicans are ready to confirm a conservative justice and win up-and-down the ballot," the group's president, Austin Chambers, tweeted.

WinRed, the counterpart to ActBlue that raises money for Republican candidates and causes, has not provided fundraising figures since Ginsburg's death. But some Republicans are using the upcoming nomination fight to solicit donors.

The Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which raises money for Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee, sent email pitches to donors on Saturday praising Ginsburg as "an amazing woman who led an amazing life" while asserting that "we have an obligation to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court".

A text message from the campaign promised that Trump would appoint a conservative justice to fill the vacancy.

Trump said on Saturday that he would nominate a woman to replace Ginsburg and that it would likely happen this week. He added that it "would be very good" if the Senate confirmed his choice before the Nov 3 election.

Democrats, however, oppose any nomination until after the election.

ActBlue processes grassroots donations for Biden's campaign, as well as for Senate candidates and key liberal groups. While the Biden campaign refrained from including a fundraising link in an email sent to supporters on Friday night, one was included in a Saturday morning message signed by vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

Progressive groups that focus on the presidential election, control of the Senate and Supreme Court confirmation battles saw larger receipts.

"We've definitely seen an uptick in funding in the wake of last night's news," said Max Steele, a senior adviser for communications at American Bridge PAC, a super-PAC that's been airing ads trying to flip Trump voters to Biden in battleground states. "Democrats are fired up."

The Get Mitch or Die Trying Fund, a web page that raises money for Democrats running against incumbent Republican senators, took in more than US$18 million by 10 pm Saturday, according organisers, compared to the US$3.5 million it had raised before Ginsburg's death.

Demand Justice, an advocacy group that's pledged to spend US$10 million to block confirmation of any Supreme Court nominee before Inauguration Day in January, has also benefited from the deluge.

"We've seen a significant increase in online fundraising," said Colin Diersing, the group's communications director, though he added that he didn't have exact numbers.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.