GoFundMe campaign for Trump's border wall may need to issue refunds after raising more than $12 million
The federal government might not be able to utilize the funds raised by Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage even if the GoFundMe page hits its $1 billion target.
With President Donald Trump having a difficult time getting $5 billion for his border wall with Mexico, a US veteran stepped in to give the US president a helping hand.
Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage started a GoFundMe page to crowdfund a part of the expense for the wall, and as of Saturday morning, 234,560 people had donated $14,298,482 toward the campaign, titled "We the People Will Fund the Wall", just a little over five days after the launch of the page.
The campaign aims to raise $1 billion to “uphold our laws, and get this wall BUILT!”.
Kolfage, a Purple Heart recipient who lost both legs and an arm in Iraq, wrote on the campaign’s web page. “It’s up to Americans to help out and pitch in to get this project rolling.”
In an email to the Washington Post, Kofage revealed that he started the campaign because “political games from both parties” have been holding back funding for the wall, adding that the campaign was about “giving the people the power.”
Sign our petition DEMANDING the border wall be funded and built!— Brian Kolfage (@BrianKolfage) December 22, 2018
There’s no excuse, EVERYONE can sign it! Let’s get 100 Million signatures
Sign our petition at https://t.co/fNV1dFNWLW
@RealJamesWoods @DeplorableChoir @codeofvets @MarkDice @RyanAFournier #gofundthewall
“It’s time to stop playing games with voters,” Kolfage said in the email. “If we are told we’re getting something, make it happen.”
But questions remain as to whether the federal government would be able to accept the gift.
While Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee and a longtime proponent of tighter border security, hailed the vet’s “impressive” campaign, he also expressed reservations about allowing private citizens to govern with through their wallets.
“I think it’s admirable, and I think that the country should respond,” Goodlatte told The Post. “Obviously, we can’t let citizens raise money and say, ‘The government will spend my money on this purpose.’ ”
According to the Treasury Department, general donations to the feds are directed to a “Gifts to the United States” fund, set aside for “general use” by the federal government or “budget needs.”
Specific federal agencies can’t touch this funding without a congressional appropriation. While Some agencies can accept gifts directly for earmarked purposes, it was not clear if the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the borders, is among them.
Furthermore, GoFundMe’s terms of service further add an obstacle to the issue as they prohibit “not using funds for their stated purpose.”
This could mean that if the Department of Homeland Security is unable to accept the donations, Kolfage may have to pay back his campaign’s donors. The DHS, for its part, has not provided any clarification regarding the issue thus far.