‘We Build The Wall’ Campaign to Launch Non-Profit amid GoFundMe Threats

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Brain Kolfage, a triple amputee Air Force veteran who raised $20 million to pay for a border wall, announced the launch of a non-profit on Friday, but a GoFundMe spokesperson said it would refund all of the money raised on the website unless donors “proactively request” to have their money transferred to the new organization.

Kolfage said in a Business Wire press release:

We are grateful for the president’s steadfast commitment to border security, the single most important issue plaguing our country. Rather than subsidizing the federal government, which has betrayed the American people by obstructing President Donald Trump’s agenda, ‘We Build the Wall’ is taking the president’s signature campaign promise into our own hands. I personally will not take a penny of compensation from these donations incurred in the furtherance of this mission.

In less than a month, Kolfage raised more than $20 million from more than 300,000 donors, with an ultimate goal of $1 billion. The effort included working with lawmakers and legal experts to find ways to allow Americans to help fund a border wall.

But the obstacles frustrated Kolfage – including the difficulty of giving money to the United States Treasury for a specific purpose – and ultimately led to a new tact for completing his mission. Kolfage said:

Better equipped than our own federal government, we have made significant progress in less than a month, having begun extensive due diligence and commenced feasibility studies. We are already taking action on identifying the most densely crossed areas of the border, soliciting affected landowners along the Southern border, and ascertaining the willingness of border landowners to provide no or low-cost easements on their property for wall construction.

The new 501(c)4 called We Build the Wall, Inc., has formed a board of directors that Folgate will lead and a team of advisers “to provide critical guidance on the project’s legal, engineering, contracting, environmental, accounting, maintenance, and real estate issues and serve on the advisory board and or the construction, finance and or audit committees,” the Business Wire press release said.

But the financial transition from GoFundMe to the new venture isn’t guaranteed. A spokesman for the website said the money raised would not automatically go to the new organization, according to the Hill:

“When the campaign was created, the campaign organizer specifically stated on the campaign page, ‘If we don’t reach our goal or come significantly close we will refund every single penny,’” GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne told The Hill on Friday.

“He also stated on the campaign page, ‘100 percent of your donations will go to the Trump Wall. If for ANY reason we don’t reach our goal we will refund your donation.’”

“However, that did not happen. This means all donors will receive a refund,” Whithorne continued. “If a donor does not want a refund, and they want their donation to go to the new organization, they must proactively elect to redirect their donation to that organization. If they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund.”

Business Insider reported that Whithorne said GoFundMe would contact all donors by email about the status of their donation.

Some of those named to lead the non-profit were included in the Business Wire press release:

Kris Kobach — Secretary Kobach served as the Secretary of State of the State of Kansas from 2011-2019. A leader in the national effort to stop voter fraud, he drafted and pushed for the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act of 2011, which made Kansas the first state in the Union to combine photo ID requirements at the polls, equivalent ID requirements for mail-in ballots, and proof of citizenship at the time of registration.

John Daniel Moran, Jr. — Mr. Moran is an American businessman, entrepreneur and industrialist best known for his role as President and CEO of Moran Industries, Inc., a warehousing, logistics and transportation company based in Pennsylvania that was founded in 1975.

Erik Prince — Mr. Prince is an American businessman and Navy SEAL best known as the founder of the security firm Blackwater. He serves as Chairman of Frontier Resource Group, a private equity fund investing in natural resource opportunities in frontier markets.

Dr. Robert S. Spalding III, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret.) — General Spalding is an accomplished innovator in government and a national security policy strategist. He was the chief architect of the framework for national competition in the Trump Administration’s widely praised National Security Strategy (NSS), and the Senior Director for Strategy to the President.

“Angel Dad” Steve Ronnebeck — Mr. Ronnebeck lost his 21-year-old son Grant, who was brutally executed by a criminal illegal immigrant over for a pack of cigarettes while working at a convenience store in 2015. Steve has dedicated himself to protecting other families from suffering needless tragedies at the hands of people who have no business being here in the first place through his work with the Ronnebeck Foundation.

“Angel Mom” Mary Ann Mendoza — Ms. Mendoza lost her son Brandon in 2014, after his police car was hit by an intoxicated driver who was in the U.S. illegally. She is one of several parents who have been meeting with President Trump about how to tighten restrictions on immigrants in the country illegally.

Sara Carter — Ms. Carter is an award-winning Fox News commentator who specializes in reporting on the border and opioid crisis.

Sheriff David Clarke — Sheriff Clarke is an American former law enforcement official who served as Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.

Congressman Tom Tancredo — Mr. Tancredo is a former United States Congressman who has been referred to as Congress’ most vociferous critic of current immigration policy. He served in the Reagan Administration and ran for President of the United States in the 2008 election.

It is not clear if Kolfage, board members, or advisers will be compensated for their work.

“When government fails in its most important duties — protecting its citizens and preserving the country’s sovereignty — We the People have the right to do it ourselves,” Kobach said.

“Our team firmly believes that we can complete our segments of the wall for less than half of the government’s estimated costs on a per mile basis, and in a much shorter time frame,” Prince said. Mendoza said:

With millions of citizens united behind our mission, we look forward to taking a hands-on role in securing our porous Southern Border and protecting Americans from the tragedy my family suffered due to our flawed immigration system. We have taken it upon ourselves to prevent the illegal entry of foreign invaders who suppress our workers’ wages, bring opioids that fall into our children’s hands, and commit violent crimes.

Kolfage’s bio includes his service in the U.S. Air Force, recovery from life-threatening injuries that make him “the most severely wounded Airman to survive any war,” and success as a business entrepreneur.

Kolfage, who is married and has two children, “is driven by his love for life, his country, and his family.”

You can find out more about the new campaign here.

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