The Senate Republican refund rate equals 6.6 percent of direct individual donations this cycle; the Senate Democratic committee’s rate is 1.67 percent.
WinRed declined to comment on stopping the Senate committee from using the tactic. The committee is still using the “reply YES to donate” function in texts, but it is now disclosing itself as the sender of the messages.
All told, the Senate committee has poured more than $26 million into expenses marked as texting-related since 2021, part of a digital budget that ballooned so quickly that Republicans, even inside the committee, are talking about a financial autopsy to examine whether there have been potential conflicts of interest.
Gary Coby, Mr. Trump’s longtime digital director, is an adviser to the committee and widely seen as the main behind-the-scenes influence on the N.R.S.C.’s current digital operations. Two of his companies, Direct Persuasion, a digital agency, and Opn Sesame, a texting firm, have been paid by the Senate committee more than $4.6 million combined. Two others that he has promoted, DirectSnd and Red Spark Strategy, have received another $9.2 million.
The N.R.S.C.’s digital director, Daria Grastara, worked for Mr. Coby during the Trump 2020 campaign. She was a director for Direct Persuasion, according to her LinkedIn page. While at the Senate committee, Ms. Grastara has maintained financial ties to at one least firm that has been paid committee funds and informed the N.R.S.C. of the arrangement, according to a person briefed on the situation.
Mr. Hartline called Ms. Grastara a “fantastic employee” but declined to discuss any specifics, adding only, “She has been open and transparent with all parties involved since the beginning of the cycle.” Ms. Grastara, who attended Direct Persuasion’s Miami Beach retreat this year, did not respond to a request for comment.