Suraj Patel, the Indian American who ran for Congress in New York City‘s 12th District against incumbent Carolyn Maloney, invested $5,000 to create Tinder accounts to get votes, but it didn’t prove to be enough to cross the line first.
Calling his technique “Tinder-banking,” volunteers in his campaign were asked to set up a fake profile on Tinder and other dating apps with pro-Patel images provided by the campaign, according to an internal document obtained by the Hornet.
The document continues to say how volunteers are to “pick a stock hottie from unsplash.com,” a free photo website, and then “swipe right on most people” when someone is interested.
When someone does respond to them, the volunteers were to ask about the Democratic primary election in New York City and answer questions about the candidates, in an attempt to make them vote.
Volunteers were told to “keep the mood generally light-hearted and flirty. Stay positive even if your match gets testy!”
However, Patel’s modern and romantic approach to campaigning for a political venture has not been that popular as the app itself.
Many have wrote against him on Twitter and David Kilmnick, President of the New York LGBT Network, even wrote in a statement: “On the day of NYC Pride, where hundreds of thousands will be brave and courageous coming out as their true authentic selves for being LGBT, Suraj Patel’s actions are unethical and demonstrates he’s out of touch with issues that LGBT people face every day. These dating apps are designed to be safe spaces for LGBT people to meet one another. The creation of fake profiles and to ‘pretend’ to be LGBT to reel people in is nothing more than total dishonesty and makes light of the struggles and violence many LGBT people face in our country today. We already have enough cluelessness in Washington, D.C., now; we do not need to add to that, we need to fight it.”
Patel, who teaches business ethics at New York University, told the Hornet that he is proud of his ‘unethical’ strategy despite the negative responses.
“What if Tinder banking works so well that we get 1,000 extra votes? Shouldn’t the party be like, ‘Cool, let’s start doing this.’ I find the lack of creativity in politics appalling. It’s kinda like catfishing, but you are telling people who you are,” he said.
Patel himself said that he used his brother’s photo on his own fake dating profile.