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The Trump campaign ran a contest offering donors a dinner with Trump that Americans in 34 states can't legally attend because of coronavirus restrictions

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/7/2020 (John Haltiwanger)
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for the Great American Outdoors Act in the East Room of the White House on August 4, 2020. Drew Angerer/Getty Images © Drew Angerer/Getty Images U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for the Great American Outdoors Act in the East Room of the White House on August 4, 2020. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • The Trump campaign advertised a contest for a dinner with the president that people in dozens of states couldn't legally attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. 
  • The dinner was set to take place in Southampton, New York, on August 8, according to the ad.
  • People in 34 states have to quarantine for 14 days if they travel into New York, but the promotion for the contest began on July 29 — less than two weeks before the dinner was apparently scheduled to occur. 
  • The Trump campaign solicited donations for the contest, and Facebook data showed that it was advertised in states facing travel restrictions in New York.  
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Trump campaign spent between $79,000 to $100,000 on Facebook ads between August 3 and August 4 promoting a contest for a dinner with President Donald Trump on August 8 that many Americans could not legally attend because of COVID-19 restrictions, Judd Legum at Popular Information reported.

The campaign asked for donations to enter the contest for a chance to win a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to eat dinner with the president. 

The ad for the dinner was shown at least 4.5 million times to Facebook users, said Legum, who characterized the contest as a "scam."

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider. 

According to the ad, the dinner was set to be held on August 8 in Southampton, New York. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently instituted restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 that require travelers from 34 states to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the state.

The promotion period for the contest began on July 29. Based on the contest's rules, a winner was to be notified no later than Thursday, August 6. This would not leave enough time to arrive in New York and quarantine, so attending a dinner on Saturday with the president, or anyone for that matter, would be illegal. Violating Cuomo's order could result in a $10,000 fine.

The order impacts travelers from the following states: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Legum reported that Facebook data shows the Trump campaign "marketed the contest extensively to residents of those states."


Though the Facebook ad did not mention the restrictions on travel to New York, the rules for the contest alluded to them: "This Promotion is void where prohibited. All federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply to this Promotion ... Sponsor reserves the right to change these Official Rules at any time, in its sole discretion, and to suspend or cancel the Promotion or any entrant's participation in the Promotion should viruses, bugs, unauthorized human intervention or other causes beyond Sponsor's control affect the administration, security or proper play of the Promotion, or Sponsor otherwise becomes (as determined in its sole discretion) incapable of running the Promotion as planned."

In other words, it appears the Trump campaign advertised this contest to people in states with the knowledge they could not legally attend, but still solicited donations from them. 

According to Legum, this contest is part of a broader trend.

"Overall, the Trump campaign has held 21 contests for meals w/Trump and there is no evidence anyone has won," he wrote on Twitter.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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