A GoFundMe campaign to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was a huge hit among supporters of Donald Trump, but now some members of that group are expressing worry that the campaign may have been a scam all along.
The campaign arose during the federal government shutdown that stretched from the end of 2018 to the start of this year. It was the brainchild of triple-amputee veteran Brian Kolfage. As Salon reported, the campaign went viral among Trump supporters and raised more than $20 million toward the $1.6 billion Trump was seeking at the time to start construction of the border wall he had said would be built as one of the chief campaign promises. Some supporters even took it upon themselves to promote the campaign, including one Texas man who bought a billboard encouraging people to donate.
At the time, Kolfage said that he was planning to refund all of the money if the campaign did not hit its $1 billion goal. Though it was roughly 98 percent short of that goal, Kolfage has continued to post on the GoFundMe page, railing against illegal immigration.
The campaign pledged to actually start construction on the border wall, but the start date has been pushed back. Kolfage said in January that construction would start in weeks, but in March he told American Family Radio that the project would not break ground until April. As Salon noted, there has not yet been any known construction of the border wall.
The people behind the border wall GoFundMe claim the wall's location has to be kept secret to hide it from liberals. But donors are starting to get suspicious… https://t.co/oCLjCwb8gH
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) May 10, 2019
Last week, Kolfage took to his Facebook page to tell supporters that the construction of the wall was moving forward but that he had gone into something of a silent phase. He said that the construction was in the “homestretch” and that there would be updates soon.
Brian Kolfage has been accused of other scams in the past. An investigative report from BuzzFeed found that the 37-year-old gained a reputation as “vengeful and malicious” while building a far-right media site that often peddled in lies, including photoshopped pictures of Barack Obama in a fake story claiming he was caught having an affair. Kolfage’s site was eventually banned from Facebook.
Kolfage had also previously collected $16,246 through a GoFundMe campaign for a veteran mentorship program that he claimed was in conjunction with three military hospitals. Representatives from all three hospitals told Buzzfeed that they had no record of the program existing or having any contact with Kolfage. A representative for GoFundMe confirmed to Buzzfeed that all the funds raised in the campaign were given directly to Kolfage.