(THV11) — The organizers behind a massive GoFundMe campaign to help pay for President Trump’s border wall are now instead planning to build a wall on the southern border themselves.
Brian Kolfage, a purple heart veteran and triple amputee, explained in an update on the GoFundMe page Friday that they’d set up a non-profit and are “better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border.”
The campaign was originally set up under the goal of raising $1 billion and giving however much they raised directly to the federal government for a wall.
While the campaign has raised more than $20 million from over 325,000 donors, it’s well short of the $1 billion goal.
GoFundMe confirmed because there was a change in how the funds were to be used, all of the money donated to the campaign will be refunded, unless contributors proactively elect to redirect their donation to the new organization.
When the campaign was first created, the organizer also stated that “if for ANY reason we don’t reach our goal we will refund your donation.”
The campaign initially claimed there was a precedent for private funds being used for public projects by citing how a billionaire in 2012 helped fund renovations for half of the Washington Monument.
However, our VERIFY team confirmed the Department of Homeland Security cannot accept gifts without an appropriation from Congress. Since it’s Congress that Trump is battling in order to get his long-promised border wall funded, it’s difficult to imagine that they would grant that appropriation for this particular campaign.
In the Friday update on the GoFundMe page, the group said it had come to the conclusion that the federal government wouldn’t be able to accept their donations anytime soon. Kolfage also wrote that his team of professionals believes they can “complete significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money, than the federal government.”
He added that they’ve been working to identify possible locations to start building the border wall, reaching out to affected landowners and studying ways to build the wall as cheaply and efficiently as possible.
The purple heart veteran has created a non-profit called ‘We Build the Wall, Inc.’ to take on the wall project and accept whatever funds GoFundMe supporters choose to donate.
Those who don’t proactively elect to redirect their donation to the new organization will automatically receive a refund in 90 days.