Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) has been sending emails to potential donors claiming that Sean Hannity has called for people to give him money and saying he wants “to show” the Fox News host a list of donors.
Donalds’ email strategy is yet another example of the Republican Party relying on Fox News to raise money. GOP organizations have brought in Fox News personalities to speak at fundraisers. The Republican National Committee partnered with Hannity to sell his book last year, and Republican candidates have featured Hannity in Facebook ads. Media Matters recently reported that the National Republican Congressional Committee has integrated Fox News in numerous fundraising emails.
Donalds is a freshman member of Congress and a Fox News favorite: He has appeared on the network’s weekday programming at least 50 times since January 2020. Donalds has been using those appearances to raise money for his campaign and “help win back the House majority.”
Donalds wrote in an email Media Matters received on April 26: “I recently went on Hannity to discuss how the Left continues to attack our law enforcement officers and divide our great country with their radical agenda. … The next time I go on Sean Hannity’s show, I want to show him a list of all the patriots who saw our conversation and stepped up to help me CRUSH this crucial goal to defend America’s police officers.” He followed that email up with another email a few days later saying he still needs contributions “to show Sean.”
He wrote in an email Media Matters received on June 12 that he recently went on Hannity’s program (with guest host Jeanine Pirro) and “the next time I go on Hannity, I want to show Sean a list of all the grassroots patriots who stood with me in my hour of need.”
Media Matters received an email from Donalds on July 26 that forwarded a message by Donalds from July 21. That older email stated: “I went on Hannity, where I told Sean about our grassroots movement to take back Congress and save America. He was impressed, Friend -- and he called for patriots across America to give $5 or more to support our efforts to win the 5 seats we need. … Please make a contribution of $5 or more to help win back the House majority and get your name on my list of patriots to show Sean -- and your gift will be 2X-MATCHED.”
It’s not clear what conversation Donalds was referring to in that message. Donalds did appear on Hannity on July 19, but that segment did not include any call for people “to give $5 or more to support our efforts to win the 5 seats we need.” (Hannity, regardless, regularly endorses candidates.)
The July 26 email stated: “Once again, thousands of conservatives stepped up and answered Sean’s and my call. … I’m going to speak to Sean soon, and I want him to be completely blown away by how many America First patriots are on the final list.” The email added: “So please, make a contribution of $5 or more to help win back the House majority and get your name on the biggest list of patriots I’ve ever shown Sean -- and your gift will be 4X-MATCHED.”
Donalds’ staff did not respond to a request for comment and clarification.