Federal judge allows state investigations into WinRed’s fundraising tactics to continue

WinRed, which handles political donations to Republican candidates, faced inquiries from state attorneys in New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Minnesota about the use of pre-screened donation boxes to lock in contributions to candidates and committees on a monthly or weekly schedule, court filing shows .

The queries followed a New York Times study last year of the tactics of former President Donald Trump’s political operation, which included using pre-marked fields to automatically enroll contributors in recurring donation programs.

WinRed had sued in Minnesota for stopping the investigations, arguing that its activities are subject to federal campaign finance law, not any state consumer protection laws that attorneys sought to enforce.

Judge John Tunheim of the U.S. District Court in Minnesota on Wednesday dismissed WinRed’s case against Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Tunheim said the federal election law “does not prejudge generally applicable state consumer protection laws simply because the state seeks to apply them to a federally registered political committee.”

He also rejected WinRed’s attempts to stop investigations in Connecticut, Maryland and New York, saying he had no jurisdiction over those states.

WinRed did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment, but a spokesman for the company told The New York Times that WinRed would appeal.

New York Justice Minister Letitia James praised the judge’s decision Wednesday.

“No business has the right to use politics as an excuse to mislead consumers,” James said in a statement. “It is their responsibility to be honest and transparent with their services, and it is the responsibility of states to fight back against misleading behavior in all its forms.”

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