The head of a Palm Beach County-based “Trump Team 2020 Florida Republican Club” says she’ll add disclaimers to the group’s materials specifying that it is not affiliated with President Donald Trump‘s 2020 re-election campaign after getting a cease-and-desist letter from a Trump campaign attorney.
The Monday letter from Trump campaign attorney Lawrence Rosen accused the club of misrepresenting itself and confusing the public and demands corrective action by Friday. Club president Annie Marie Delgado denied the claims in the letter, blaming “fake Republicans” for stirring up controversy. But Delgado said adding a disclaimer, as demanded by Rosen, would be a “great idea.”
Delgado’s club rented the ballroom at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter for its inaugural meeting last week and she estimated the club drew about 300 attendees who paid $35 to $55 for tickets. Her club is one of several such organizations formed around Florida since last year in an effort to harness the energy of Trump supporters who might not be interested in traditional Republican Party organizations.
Some of the Trump clubs, including Delgado’s, are officially recognized by the Republican Party of Florida and subject to party rules, such as a requirement that only Republicans can speak at meetings.
“We are the ONLY Trump club in Palm Beach County officially sanctioned and chartered by the Republican Party of Florida,” said a flyer for the Trump Team 2020 event. The “officially sanctioned and chartered by the Republican Party of Florida” language also appears prominently atop the group’s Facebook page.
“It has come to the campaign’s attention that the Trump Team 2020 Florida Republican Club…is falsely representing to the public that it is an affiliate and/or authorized agent of the campaign,” Rosen’s letter says. “Moreover, it appears that you are currently, and have been for some time, holding yourself out as a member of the campaign and/or as having the authority to act on its behalf during fundraising activities and in other contexts.”
Delgado called those claims “factually and totally and completely incorrect…Nowhere on (club materials) does it say that we are the Trump national campaign.”
Rosen’s letter adds: “The likelihood that the public will be confused by your activities is heightened by (a) the club’s pronouncement that it is ‘officially sanctioned and chartered by the Republican Party of Florida;’ and (b) the sale of campaign related products at club events and on its social media pages.”
Rosen’s letter demands that the local club stop various activities that might confuse the public about its affiliation, “cleanse” its website of such material and to add a disclaimer to all its electronic and printed materials stating that the club is “not affiliated with, authorized, endorsed, or sponsored by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. or any of its affiliates.”
Delgado said after reading the letter that adding a disclaimer is “a great idea because that will certainly distinguish the frauds that are out there, not chartered…I will do whatever the RPOF requires and certainly whatever the Trump campaign requires.”
Delgado added: “It’s unfortunate that people that are not really Trump supporters are trying to attack me and Trump Team 2020. These are the same people that attack our president…fake Republicans. They are not on the president’s side.”
Former Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein, who spoke at the Delgado club’s meeting last week, said he did not think an attendee would confuse the event with an official campaign activity. He blamed internal GOP rivalries for the dispute.
“Not everybody in the Republican Party likes each other. That’s the best way I can put it…This seems to arise from that,” said Dinerstein.
Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Michael Barnett said he fielded complaints a few weeks ago about materials that said “Trump Team 2020 Florida” but did not include the word “club.”
“People raised the issue with me and I discussed it with her. I thought it was resolved,” Barnett said.
“These little spats and disputes that we’re having with each other don’t matter when we have an election to win,” Barnett said. “I hope that whatever beef the campaign has with her is addressed so we can move on.”
Delgado was paid $5,896 by the Trump campaign in March and April of 2016, according to Federal Election Commission records. The Republican National Committee also paid Delgado $1,250 for “political strategy services” in the fall of 2016 and $12,000 for three months of rent for phone bank and campaign space.
Another Trump club in Palm Beach County, known as “Club 45 PBC,” is not officially chartered by the GOP and has drawn hundreds of people to its meetings. That club hosted Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis at the Palm Beach Kennel Club last month.
Club 45 PBC Vice President Larry Snowden said his club didn’t put “Trump” in its name so it wouldn’t be confused with the official Trump campaign.
“We are no way involved with any other club including the one that you just mentioned and we try to stay out of any, for lack of a better term, squabbles,” Snowden said. “We’re just trying to do our own thing.”