Trump to GOP firms: Stop using my image or your clients will suffer

Last updated on March 23, 2023

The Trump campaign has sent a warning shot to the Republican Party’s House campaign arm and some of its most prominent digital consultants: Stop using the former president’s image and likeness in your fundraising pitches or you will pay.

In a letter sent on Thursday afternoon to the National Republican Campaign Committee and ten GOP consulting firms, Trump’s top two campaign officials, Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, said the former president may not endorse candidates who used firms that were fundraising off of Trump without his consent.

The threat was driven by concern that small-dollar donations that could otherwise be sent to Trump’s own 2024 campaign would instead be diverted to other Republicans who used Trump’s image or deceived donors into believing they were donating to Trump.

“When you deceive the President’s donors and usurp his brand for your own profit, you drain him of the financial resources his campaign needs to defeat Joe Biden and Make America Great Again,” Wiles and LaCivita write in the letter.

The Trump campaign sent the letter to Tag Strategies, Red Spark Strategy, Prosper Group, IMGE, Go Big Media, Push Digital, Convergence Media, Coldspark, Axiom Strategies and Targeted Victory.

Several of the firms are working for prospective GOP rivals to Trump. Coldspark, for instance, is helping former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has announced her candidacy. Axiom is working with a super PAC aligned with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Targeted Victory is a vendor to South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. Both DeSantis and Scott are seen as likely contenders. The firms also represent a host of other down-ballot candidates within the Republican Party who would stand to benefit from securing a Trump endorsement.

None of the firms who received the Trump campaign letter commented for this story.

Trump has made similar moves before. In March 2021, his lawyers sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee, NRCC and National Republican Senatorial Committee, demanding they stop using his name and likeness in fundraising emails and merchandise. The RNC denied the cease-and-desist demand.

Thursday’s letter is not a legal threat so much as a political one, forcing the party’s main digital consultants to weigh the value of Trump’s endorsement versus the use of his name to raise funds for their clients.

“Going forward, in determining which candidates he will support, the President and his team will consider whether the candidate is paying a digital fundraising vendor that routinely fundraises off of his name, image and likeness without his authorization,” Wiles and LaCivita write. “It is highly unlikely that President Trump will endorse, sign letters for, appear at events with or post on social media about candidates who use such vendors, or invite such vendors’ clients to join him on stage or otherwise recognize them at his rallies and other events.”