- Donations to the viral GoFundMe campaign set up by a veteran to raise funds to pay for the border wall have slowed to a trickle, but the campaign has so far raised $US20 million.
- During its first week, the campaign raised more than $US16 million.
- Brian Kolfage, a motivational speaker who speaks about being a triple amputee, is behind the campaign and promised the funds will be held until the campaign can ensure all the money goes toward financing the border wall.
It’s been two years since Donald Trump won the presidential election after repeatedly promising to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
Since the wall still hasn’t been built – causing a standstill in Congress and what is likely to become the longest government shutdown in US history – some Americans are taking up the cause themselves.
Last month, US Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage set up a GoFundMe campaign asking for supporters to pitch in to pay for the wall. In its first 72 hours, the campaign received more than $US5 million in donations.
A week later, on December 24, 2018, the campaign had raised more than $US16 million. More than 333,000 supporters have donated. On its first day online, the campaign was raising $US1,000 each minute.
“If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $US80, we can build the wall,” the campaign’s GoFundMe page reads. “That equates to roughly 5Billion Dollars, even if we get half, that’s half the wall. We can do this.”
In the campaign’s description, Kolfage – who underwent three amputations after he was severely injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 – wrote that he feels “deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today.”
“Too many illegals are taking advantage of the United States taxpayers with no means of ever contributing to our society,” he wrote.
Kolfage told the Washington Post that he started the campaign because “political games from both parties” have been holding back the construction of the wall.
“It’s time to stop playing games with voters,” Kolfage said. “If we are told we’re getting something, make it happen.”
Ever since the campaign’s creation, Kolfage has repeatedly said the money will be refunded if it can’t go directly to funding a wall. On January 10, Kolfage posted an update on the GoFundMe page, saying he “will be announcing our full scale plan in the next day or two; we hope tomorrow.”
Yet it’s unclear how the money could go directly to any wall-building fund.
The campaign description originally said the fundraising efforts are capped at $US1 billion because that is GoFundMe’s maximum fundraising limit. Kolfage said he’s working with the company to change that but so far the limit hasn’t changed.
At nearly $US20 million, the campaign is barely 2% of its $US1 billion goal and 0.35% of the $US5.7 billion Trump is demanding from Congress.
The fundraiser is one of the many efforts by conservative Americans to find a way to raise money for the wall, for which Trump has been having a hard time securing funds. In December, Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo introduced a bill that would allow Americans to buy “border bonds” to raise the $US5 billion Trump is asking for to build the wall.
Kolfage makes a reference to Palazzo’s plan in his campaign’s description, saying it is “one option” for the funds raised, adding that “there are others on the table being discussed.” In the post, the veteran said “every single penny” will be refunded if the campaign doesn’t reach its goal.
The government has accepted private donations for infrastructure before. In 2012, a billionaire philanthropist donated $US7.5 million to fix the Washington Monument.
It is unclear still if the government has reached out to Kolfage about any potential donations. In the GoFundMe post, Kolfage said he is “working with a law firm on a legal document that will bind the government to using the funds for the border wall itself, nothing else.”
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