A viral GoFundMe campaign launched to help raise $1 billion for the government to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico has hit a hurdle and will no longer be raising funds for that specific purpose. As such, the fundraising website is issuing refunds unless donors opt-in to the new cause.
Instead of just raising money for the government to construct the barrier, Brian Kolfage is launching a 501(c)(4) charity called We Build the Wall, Inc. to do so. Because of that, the campaign has changed its name from “We The People Will Fund The Wall” to “We The People Will Build the Wall.”
“WE EXPANDED OUR MISSION! We are no longer just funding the wall, we are now BUILDING the wall,” reads the Air Force veteran’s GoFundMe page, which was launched on Dec. 16 and raised over $20 million. “I immediately sought out and consulted with some of our country’s leading professionals in law, politics, national security, construction, and finance. This team has spent countless hours over the holidays reviewing all issues pertaining to the construction of a southern border wall.”
Among the reasons why the goal is no longer to simply raise money for the barrier are “the federal government won’t be able to accept our donations anytime soon” and the belief that “we are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border.”
“Our team strongly believes that we can complete our segments of the wall for less than half of the government’s estimated costs on a per mile basis,” the notice added.
Legally, the Department of Homeland Security is disallowed from accepting “gifts or donations of services or property” unless it is approved by Congress.
However, the change in the original plans for the fundraiser means that those who did not initially donate with the goal of individuals with the charity building the wall are owed refunds. A GoFundMe spokesperson said they’ll get them automatically unless they fill out a form to opt in to the new goal.
Bobby Whithorne told People magazine Monday exactly why the refunds are being offered.
Whithorne said at first, Koflage’s campaign site stated, “If we don’t reach our goal or come significantly close we will refund every single penny.’ He also stated on the campaign page, ’100% of your donations will go to the Trump Wall. If for ANY reason we don’t reach our goal we will refund your donation.’ However, that did not happen.”
Now, the Koflage’s page explicitly says that those who donated after Jan. 11, which is the date that he changed his goal, will not have to opt in. Anyone who donated before that date, however, will need to opt in by submitting a request to GoFundMe.
The ongoing government shutdown, the longest in history, continues with no end in sight as President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats refuse to budge from their respective positions over his demand that any appropriations bill that would reopen government must include $5.7 billion for a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. On Jan. 14, Trump rejected a proposed plan from Sen. Lindsey Graham to reopen the government for several weeks while negotiations over border security with Dems continue.