Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) reportedly sent out an email Wednesday with a list of non-profit groups offering hurricane disaster relief. But he did not disclose that the links also connect to ActBlue, a Democratic fundraising website that also saves donor emails for future fundraisers, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Hurricane Michael ravaged Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm and moved on to pummel the Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. In all, at least 17 people were killed and more than one million people in six states were left without power.
What was in the email?
Hours after the storm hit, Nelson reportedly sent out emails with a list of nonprofit groups he described as "vital resources for people who need help."
The list included the American Red Cross, Big Bend Homeless Coalition, Florida Disaster Fund, Team Rubicon and others. Each name on the list was accompanied by a link that sends users to a page on ActBlue’s website where people are asked to donate to hurricane relief efforts, according to the report.
On Twitter, Nelson directed people on Wednesday to an ActBlue link on his website where they can give donations for hurricane relief.
"The devastation from #Hurricane Michael is widespread across the Panhandle and Big Bend in Florida," Nelson wrote. "Anything you can give to these nonprofit organizations will help people with needed relief."
The devastation from #HurricaneMichael is widespread across the Panhandle and Big Bend in Florida. Anything you can… https://t.co/UJSZx9vkIC— Bill Nelson (@Bill Nelson) 1539215167.0
ActBlue is a federally-registered political action committee that is the self-described "online clearinghouse for Democratic action."
"ActBlue is a nonprofit, building fundraising technology for the left," according to its website.
According to its "about" page, "Democratic campaigns get more donations through ActBlue than any other platform."
"...A majority of Democratic Senate and House campaigns—along with the DCCC, DSCC, DGA, over one-third of statewide campaigns, and advocacy organizations around the country—have chosen ActBlue," the website also states. It adds that the organization has “raised $2,862,403,745 for Democrats and progressive causes" in 14 years.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee gave Nelson a sharp rebuke for the move.
"Bill Nelson has reached a new low in a desperate attempt to save his political career," NRSC spokesperson Camille Gallo said. "While Floridians were trying to save their homes and lives, Bill Nelson used this tragedy as an opportunity to save his taxpayer-funded job by shamelessly using disaster relief efforts to bolster his fundraising operation."
Earlier this week, Nelson sent emails to voters who were in the path of the hurricane. The emails reportedly had captions that read, "Losing Florida would cost Democrats the Senate" and "We can't win without your immediate donation, friends."
Has he done this before?
Last year, Nelson was blasted for his fundraising efforts during Hurricane Irma. He reportedly tried to raise money after asking airlines to not impose any fare hikes as the hurricane approached.
Nelson, a three-term senator, is competing against Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the November election.