On May 1 of last year, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced that the RNC had hired Gerrit Lansing as its chief digital officer. The press release boasted of Lansing's bona fides, including stints at the Heritage Foundation, the House Budget Committee, and — most recently — at the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Missing from the announcement: that Lansing was — and still is — the CEO, co-founder, and part-owner of Revv, an online fundraising company.
That fact is also missing from Lansing’s LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, which don't mention Revv. And on Revv’s profile on AngelList, a popular directory of startups, Nick Marcelli is the sole founder listed. (Lansing, Marcelli, and a third co-founder, Chris Georgia, all worked together at the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2014 campaign cycle.)
Today, Revv handles online donations for the RNC (which continues to employ Lansing), the Trump campaign (with which Lansing works closely), and a slew of Republican congressional campaigns. But at the time of Lansing’s hiring, Revv was a virtually untested platform — the company had incorporated less than six months earlier and had only officially launched in April. Switching to Revv would also mean abandoning the RNC's homegrown fundraising software, which the committee had used in the 2014 midterm elections.
By the time the RNC started using Revv this year, the company had beefed up its infrastructure. In recent months, however, Trump’s Revv donation pages have still encountered criticism regarding the difficulty of refunding recurring donations and a basic security flaw. Some campaigns have tested Revv but ultimately declined to use it; others seem to find genuine value in the platform.
When initially contacted by BuzzFeed News, Lansing forwarded questions about his role at Revv to RNC spokesperson Lindsay Walters, who declined to provide on-the-record specifics but responded, "Gerrit is and always has been solely focused on the RNC's digital efforts while employed by the party."
Still, Lansing has continued to pitch the company and serve as its chief executive. Two Revv contracts seen by BuzzFeed News — one from the second half of 2015 and the other from the first quarter of 2016 — bear Lansing's signature and name him as the company's CEO. And emails seen by BuzzFeed News show Lansing promoting Revv and coordinating with clients long after he joined the RNC. As recently as February, Lansing was sending such emails from his @revv.co address.
Public documents corroborate these findings: A filing with the Washington, DC, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs lists Lansing as Revv’s registered agent, and a speaker bio from Lansing's high-school alma mater mentions that, after co-founding the company, he "took on a second duty" as the RNC's chief digital officer.
Lansing declined to comment. In a follow-up discussion, Walters told BuzzFeed News that the RNC’s previous statement — about Lansing being “solely focused” on his RNC work — referred to the fact that Lansing didn’t work on Revv during the workday. “What anyone does on the weekends is up to them,” she said.
Walters said that the RNC used the donation platform it thought was the best available option — Revv — and that "Gerrit was not involved in the contract process” between RNC and Revv. “Gerrit was not seated at the table, was not involved in the conversations about which products we would use."
Regarding the lack of information about Revv in Lansing’s hiring announcement, his LinkedIn profile, and his Twitter profile, Walters said: "There was no concerted effort on our part to be hiding that.”
It’s unclear how much revenue Revv has earned from working with the RNC. Revv provides campaigns with a "one-tap" donation tool — built on top of Stripe, a payment processing service — typically in exchange for a roughly 1% cut of the donation (in addition to Stripe's fee), but BuzzFeed News has not seen the exact terms of the RNC's Revv contract.
Payments from campaigns to Revv rarely appear in filings with the Federal Election Commission; instead, the campaigns appear to pay Stripe, which then transfers a certain portion to Revv. A recent exception, however, is the Trump campaign’s latest spending report, which says that it paid Revv $170,426 in July.
Earlier that month — and shortly before the RNC’s national convention, which made Donald Trump the party’s official presidential nominee — Revv discontinued its contract with Never Means Never PAC, which runs NeverTrump.com.
Since then, clicking on NeverTrump.com's "Contribute" button has taken visitors to an error page on Revv's website. Connor Walsh, the organization’s treasurer, confirmed that Revv had terminated its contract. “NeverTrump.com was informed that we could no longer use the Revv platform, and that their hands were tied in the matter,” Walsh told BuzzFeed News.
When asked why he thought Revv jettisoned NeverTrump.com, Walsh responded: “You’ll have to ask them.”
Revv and Lansing declined to comment.
Jeremy Singer-Vine is the data editor for the BuzzFeed News investigative unit and is based in Washington, D.C. His secure PGP fingerprint is E2B0 63DB 0601 D634 1E9E F9AE 9F24 768F 9B4A EFB0
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