GoFundMe may shell out more than $20 million to reimburse donors who contributed to an Iraq War veteran’s fundraiser to build a southern border wall.
That’s because its organizer, Brian Kolfage, has suddenly changed the direction of the money, planning now to send it to his self-created nonprofit rather than the federal government.
“If for ANY reason we don’t reach our goal we will refund your donation,” he added.
Those statements have since been removed from the page where Kolfage announced Friday that he cannot get the money to the Trump administration.
“The federal government won’t be able to accept our donations anytime soon,” the update read.
As a replacement, the Florida vet has decided to send the donations to “We Build the Wall, Inc.,” the nonprofit he’s formed along with his board of advisers.
“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, while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications,” Kolfage wrote on his fundraising page.
However, those who’ve donated already to his GoFundMe campaign must actively opt in to sending their money to the nonprofit. If they don’t, GoFundMe will simply send their contribution back to them.
Kolfage has voiced outrage over news of the refunds, claiming at the top of his page, “The media is falsely reporting all money is being refunded and it’s over. They are WRONG.”
GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne told The Hill the refunds came about because Kolfage broke the rules by switching the destination of the money.
In his statement, Whithorne pointed out the change in statements on the page, noting that Kolfage promised to return all donors’ money if his goal wasn’t reached.
“However, that did not happen,” he said. “This means all donors will receive a refund.”
While Kolfage attempted to assure donors the campaign wasn’t a scam when it began, he’s already run into trouble online in the past.
In December, NBC News reported that Kolfage’s Facebook page, “Right Wing News,” had been taken down in a major sweep by the company as part of its initiative to rid the platform of pages run by fake accounts or those being used as “ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.”
Last Thursday, BuzzFeed News revealed that Kolfage allegedly has a past of making money by spreading false news. One of his ventures, the outlet said, included another GoFundMe page that raised thousands of dollars for mentorship of veterans in military hospitals, but spokespeople at the facilities reportedly had no record of Kolfage’s work there or any sign he had donated the money.