GoFundMe refunds $20 million raised for border wall after veteran's campaign fails to reach goal
By SAM TABACHNIK | The Denver Post | Published: January 11, 2019
DENVER (Tribune News Service) — The GoFundMe to raise money for President Trump’s border wall has failed. But that doesn’t mean Brian Kolfage, its organizer, is finished trying to build it.
The Florida veteran, who made waves by raising $20 million in one month on the crowd-sourcing site, said Friday in a new post that donors will be receiving refunds. Unless they want to send that money to his new venture — a nonprofit that aims to build the wall without government help.
Kolfage, a military veteran and a conservative political pundit, has had Colorado connections throughout his attempts to build the border wall.
In his original fundraiser, Kolfage used a Castle Rock address where donors could send checks. Now, he has invited former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a conservative and staunch proponent of a border wall, to join his team for the newly created nonprofit called “We Build the Wall, Inc.,” according to a new post on his original GoFundMe account page.
“Our highly experienced team is highly confident that we can complete significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money, than the federal government,” he said on the website, “while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications.”
Bobby Whithorne, a spokesman for GoFundMe, told The Denver Post in an email that “all donors will receive a refund” since Kolfage did not hit his goal, but they can redirect that money if they so choose.
“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,” Whithorne said. “If they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund.”
It remains unclear how the nonprofit would be able to build any segments of a border wall.
Kolfage’s original GoFundMe listed a Castle Rock UPS store as the address to send checks. Kolfage previously told The Denver Post that “unnamed business associates” would retrieve the mail there. The GoFundMe site did not have any instructions on how check-writers will receive refunds.
Donations to the new nonprofit have a post office box listed in Houston.
A BuzzFeed investigation recently found Kolfage had a history of peddling right-wing misinformation on Facebook, and was ultimately banned from the platform after pushing misleading content in the name of profit.
He also allegedly has pocketed money meant for wounded veterans in the past, according to BuzzFeed.