GOP reaches deal to build a small-donor fundraising system to close gap with Democrats

(CNN)Top Republican officials and aides to President Donald Trump have reached an agreement to overhaul the party's fundraising apparatus to create a centralized platform for small-dollar donations as Republicans race to close a massive online fundraising gap with Democrats.

A senior adviser for Data Trust, the Republican National Committee's voter data storehouse, confirmed the creation of the operation, dubbed Patriot Pass. The new platform aims to put Republicans on equal footing with ActBlue, the powerhouse online fundraising platform used by Democrats.
Under the deal, Data Trust will form a joint venture with Revv, an online donation processing company used by the Trump campaign, to form the core of Patriot Pass.
    Mike Shields, a Data Trust senior adviser and a CNN contributor, said the agreement came together, in part, because Trump and his team put their political weight behind finding a solution.
    "There was a critical mass of people understanding what needed to be done after the 2018 election," Shields told CNN on Monday.
    ActBlue helped drive more than $1.2 billion into federal campaigns in the midterm elections and helped fuel Democratic victories in the House.
    Republicans have not had a comparable centralized small-dollar platform, and top GOP officials began meeting in earnest after the midterms to hash out how to build something comparable.
    Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who plowed more than $100 million into Republican super PACs in the midterms, also was among the voices in the GOP urging party officials to find a way to tap into small donors after Republicans lost 40 House seats and control of the chamber.
      ActBlue, a nonprofit founded in 2004, has a long head start on the Republicans' new effort. But Shields said Patriot Pass ultimately will be a more powerful tool because it will live "in the party ecosystem" and can marry Data Trust's vast store of information about millions of voters with Revv's easy-to-use donation-processing platform.
      ActBlue "has a head start, but we are creating a better system," Shields said. "We believe we'll leapfrog theirs."