Picture of a section of the US-Mexico border fence with a mural painted on it reading 'Love Trumps Hate.'

Hmmm, What Ever Happened With That Obvious Scam of a GoFundMe Campaign for a Border Wall?

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Back in December, a man named Brian Kolfage launched a GoFundMe campaign to build a border wall on the US/Mexico border. “If you are sick and tired of watching politicians in both parties obstructing President Trump’s plan to build a wall on our southern border, then you’ve come to the right place,” the page reads. As you might expect, the campaign had a lot of support. It was also a scam.

A wall was at the core of Trump’s platform of xenophobia that got him into the White House. He’s continued to be fairly successful in convincing his base that Democrats are obstructing the wall because they just love crime, despite the fact that Republicans control the Senate and until recently, also controlled the House and Trump still couldn’t get the support needed for his obviously symbolic and ineffective wall.

So Kolfage set up the fundraiser and brought in more than $20,000,000. Originally, that money was supposed to go to the government to build the wall, but instead, Kolfage transferred the funds over to a non-profit organization called We Build the Wall, which boasts Steve Bannon, Milwaukee’s Sheriff David A. Clarke, and failed Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach as all being active supporters. It’s a veritable Who’s Who of terrible people.

But as time went on, the questions piled up–the main question being when exactly is this wall being built? Kolfage claims that he’s been busy scouting, finding private land to buy. But he told donors that he would break ground in April, and now that we’re nearly halfway through May, some donors are reportedly getting antsy. He also says that he has to keep the location a secret because of “liberal terrorists.”

So no, you can’t see pictures of the groundbreaking and he can’t even tell you where or if it’s happened yet, you just have to trust him. Which might be easier to do if Kolfage didn’t have a long history of allegedly misusing crowdfunding campaign funds.

BuzzFeed News dug into reports that Kolfage, a veteran, has raised thousands of dollars for projects like mentoring fellow vets at military hospitals that never ended up happening. He also ran what he called a “multi-million dollar business” pushing rightwing fake news online.

“The 37-year-old has spent more than a decade carefully crafting his public persona as an altruistic, conservative public figure, but people who have worked with the veteran told BuzzFeed News he can be vengeful and malicious, and that the pursuit of profits above all else fueled his behavior,” the report reads.

According to one source close who claims to be to Kolfage, the money he raised for the wall is currently paying off his yacht and generally lavish lifesyle. Kolfage denies that, but has yet to offer any proof that the money is going to anything else.

The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer writes, “Kolfage and We Build the Wall’s board of directors have spent plenty of time in Arizona, ostensibly scouting private land to build the wall. But The Phoenix New Times reported in March that the ‘vast majority’ of land on the border in the state is owned by the federal government. Meanwhile, many of the people who actually own land on the border told the New Times that they hadn’t been contacted by We Build the Wall.”

It’s clearly not that hard to get people to support a racist promise like building a wall to keep out immigrants and refugees. Trump promised it and people gave him their votes. Kolfage promised it and they gave him their money. Racists and conmen are just a natural pairing, I guess.

(image: GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.