Florida GOP candidate accused of pretending to be DeSantis, Trump banned from fundraising platform

Florida congressional candidate Erick Aguilar has been banned from the WinRed fundraising platform after he was allegedly caught impersonating former President Donald Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis in emails.

WinRed has raised billions of dollars for Republicans since it was launched in June of 2019. The fundraising capabilities of the platform are now reportedly off limits to the Florida candidate.

Aguilar is a Navy veteran who is running in the GOP primary for Florida’s 4th congressional district. It includes most of Jacksonville and the surrounding suburbs plus St. Augustine.

He has not been endorsed by Trump or DeSantis. Most of the Republican leaders are supporting former State Rep. Aaron Bean, who was a strong DeSantis ally while he was in the state legislature.

Aguilar is obviously a big Trump supporter. His campaign website vows to “Strengthen ELECTION INTEGRITY! TRUMP WON!” He also supports conservative issues.

Where he ran afoul of the GOP and the fundraising platform was when he started sending out emails with Trump and DeSantis’ names on them in order to fundraise through WinRed.

It wasn’t just that he used their names as an implied endorsement. The emails were allegedly crafted in such a way that it sounded like they came from Trump, DeSantis, and other nationally-known Republicans. Readers thought they were donating to those leaders instead of Aguilar whose name was not mentioned in the emails. That all started last November.

Politico Florida Bureau Chief Matt Dixon broke the story on Friday.

Governor DeSantis is always fighting back against Corrupt Left,” one email read using DeSantis’ logo and name. “No matter how bad this country is the Fake News media and Biden Admin are OBSESSED with that [sic] Florida is doing.”

“It added: ‘It is time to help America’s #1 Governor. Can we count on you to support DeSantis?’ Dixon noted.

“…Another batch of Aguilar’s emails look like they came from Trump and said the former president was leaving WinRed because ‘I have been at War with Big Tech!'” Politico reported.

“The email added: ‘Chip in $5 to Help President Trump CRUSH his monthly goal!'” the media outlet continued.

According to Dixon, Aguilar raised roughly $500,000 through WinRed before he got the boot. Most of the donations came from out-of-state, small-dollar donors. He only raised $15,000 in his last congressional campaign in 2020.

More than 95 percent of the donations came from voters who were “retired.” Politico claims to have contacted over a dozen donors and none of them had any idea who Aguilar even was.

“That’s kind of concerning,” one Arkansas woman stated who donated almost $500 in 20 separate donations she believed were going to DeSantis. “I had no paperwork on him [Aguilar], or anything like that.”

“I don’t know that name,” an 88-year-old woman from Minnesota who gave Aguilar over $1,000 said. “I, of course, give to President Trump and DeSantis, but that’s really it.”

“I have not made one to him,” claimed Donna Dalelio, a Virginia retiree who is listed as giving 30 contributions totaling more than $700. “I would have given to President Trump, but that’s not one I recognize.”

WinRed caught wind of the emails which led to an internal investigation. A spokesperson confirmed the candidate’s suspension in an email to Politico.

“This account intentionally misled people by pretending to be, among other groups, Donald Trump, Ron Desantis, and Jim Jordan,” the emailed statement clarified. “WinRed won’t let that happen, so several months ago we took action by shutting it down.”

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