GoFundMe announced Friday it will refund more than $20 million in online donations made by some 300,000 people in an effort to build President Trump’s border wall after the man behind the effort changed his plans with what he would do with the money.
Brian Kolfage, an Iraq War veteran, posted an update to his “We the People Will Build the Wall” page, writing that rather than donating the money to the federal government, it would instead be transferred to a private nonprofit he had established to construct the wall himself, according to BuzzFeedNews.
“The federal government won’t be able to accept our donations anytime soon,” he wrote. “We are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border.”
“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,” he continued.
The GoFundMe campaign page now states “To show the government how “We the People” can get this done, we have formed a Section 501(c)(4) non-profit Florida Corporation named “We Build the Wall, Inc.” to receive the GoFundMe contributions.”
Since the campaign’s promise had changed, GoFundMe said in a statement that all of the people who originally donated will receive a refund
“When the campaign was created, the campaign organizer specifically stated on the campaign page, ‘If we don’t reach our goal or come significantly close we will refund every single penny,’ ” GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne told news website The Hill on Friday. “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. This means all donors will receive a refund,” Whithorne continued. “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. If they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund.”
Personal checks mailed to the effort will not be guaranteed, according to a GoFundMe.
Even though the federal government is unable to accept financial donations with strings attached, last month congressional Republicans introduced legislation that would allow the US Treasury to accept donations from the public earmarked for the border wall, according to BuzzFeedNews.