GoFundMe has ruled a Trump-inspired campaign that generated $20 million to build a border wall on the southern U.S border violated its policies and will return every cent.
The campaign, run by Brian Kolfage, a veteran with a track record of questionable business practices defied all logistical considerations with its proposal for a ‘simple and straightforward’ plan to build the wall.
Even so, the campaign had attracted donations from 337,559 donors before it was flagged.
Unsurprisingly, except maybe to the donors themselves, the campaign collided with reality, with Kolfage coming to the realization that ‘the federal government won’t be able to accept our donations anytime soon’ given that there is no actual mechanism through which it could do so
On the campaign page, Kolfage newly disclosed his plans to form a nonprofit, ‘We Build The Wall, Inc.’ that would hold onto the donations until the federal government is able to accept them or until all of the donors eventually forget the project altogether.
Initially, donors were told that their money would be refunded if the goal for the project was not met. On December 22, the project’s language changed, removing any mention of refunds if the goal was not met. With that, the project appears to have run afoul of GoFundMe’s policies.
Also, as the campaign 💥, Kolfage’s been changing the language about refunding $— Brianna Sacks (@bri_sacks) January 11, 2019
12/18 "If for ANY reason we don't reach our goal we will refund your donation”
12/19: saying they will hold funds, but will refund if goal not hit
12/22: refund promise gone
Now: Will hold all funds pic.twitter.com/nhVvCiNFbN
Kolfage claims that he has formed an advisory board that features war privatization enthusiast and brother of the Secretary of Education Erik Prince and the also ethically questionable former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who lost his race this past November.
While Kolfage might be in good company, it sounds like GoFundMe will be automatically handing back every bit of the $20 million he raised before getting called out for changing the terms of the campaign. Donors who still want their money to go to Kolfage will need to opt in specifically.
🚨🚨 The $20million Build the Wall campaign is getting refunded. @gofundme is refunding everyone (~330,000 people) who donated because, according to a spokesperson, Brian Kolfage broke the original promise of the campaign to give the money back if they didn’t reach their goal pic.twitter.com/3HDAzTqrgf— Brianna Sacks (@bri_sacks) January 11, 2019
‘If a donor does not want a refund, and they want their donation to go to the new organization, they must proactively elect to redirect their donation to that organization,’ GoFundMe told The Hill. ‘If they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund.’