By Fredreka Schouten, CNN
A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by WinRed that had attempted to block attorneys general in four states from investigating its fundraising practices.
WinRed, which processes political donations for Republican candidates, faced inquiries by the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Minnesota over the use of pre-checked donation boxes to lock in contributions to candidates and committees on a monthly or weekly schedule, court filings show.
The inquiries followed a New York Times investigation last year into the tactics of former President Donald Trump’s political operation that included using pre-checked boxes to automatically enroll contributors in recurring donation programs.
WinRed had sued in Minnesota to stop the probes, arguing that its activities are governed by federal campaign finance law, not any state consumer protection laws the attorneys general sought to enforce.
Chief Judge John Tunheim of the US District Court in Minnesota on Wednesday dismissed WinRed’s case against Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Tunheim said federal election law “does not preempt generally applicable state consumer protection laws merely because the state seeks to apply them to a federally registered political committee.”
He also dismissed WinRed’s attempt to stop the investigations in Connecticut, Maryland and New York, saying he did not have jurisdiction over those states.
WinRed did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment, but a company spokesperson told The New York Times that WinRed would appeal.
New York Attorney General Letitia James praised the judge’s decision Wednesday.
“No company has the right to use politics as an excuse for misleading consumers,” James said in a statement. “It’s their responsibility to be honest and transparent with their services, and it’s the responsibility of the states to fight back against deceptive behavior in all its forms.”
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