Air Force veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage, the man behind the viral GoFundMe page to raise money for President Trump’s border wall, said he’s received $7 million from donors for his new idea to privately fund building the wall.
“Our donors gave to us to get the job done, and they trust us to do so,” Kolfage said, confirming the amount, reported CBS News on Jan. 17. He later said the figure was his “guess.”
CBS reported that $7 million was redirected to his nonprofit, We Build the Wall, from the GoFundMe page. The report said more than 120,000 donors have opted-in.
Donors who contributed to viral GoFundMe "Trump Wall" campaign agree to transfer at least $7 million to organizer's new idea — privately building the wall; Brian Kolfage claims he can build the southern border wall for half of Pres. Trump's proposed cost https://t.co/F43VR36XDt pic.twitter.com/YE2sWtBDWV
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 16, 2019
Kolfage previously said he hoped to raise $1 billion for the border wall.
President Trump asked Congress for $5 billion in wall funding, but Kolfage has claimed a private firm could do it for half the cost.
He first launched the campaign in December and $20 million was pledged from more than 300,000 people.
Another source close to Kolfage told CBS that $7 million had been redirected to We Build the Wall, Inc.
A GoFundMe spokesperson told CBS that the remaining $13 million donated via the crowd-funding website will automatically get their refunds back by April 11.
Those who ask for their money back can get it within three business days. According to Kolfage, more than 8,300 have asked for that option, reported CBS.
.@jack Brian Kolfage is a disabled Veteran and a popular user on your platform. I met with him in my office just a few days ago. People are impersonating him on Twitter to try and scam users for money. He needs to be verified. Why was his application denied? https://t.co/H2MWXoa8yG
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 8, 2019
In a recent update on the GoFundMe page, Kolfage said that 100 percent of the “funds raised on GoFundMe go towards wall construction only.”
“No admin/personnel of the charity will take a penny in compensation from the Gofundme donations AS PROMISED. We have an audit committee who will provide full oversight to provide 100% accountability as a charity is required,” he wrote on the page.
Once Brian Kolfage changed the purpose of what the funds would be used for, GoFundMe announced that all donors would get…
Kolfage also wrote that his team is “estimating to break ground” in a few months somewhere in Texas, without elaborating.
“Brian and the team is heading to Texas in the coming weeks to start talking with contractors, architects, and local law enforcement to begin finalizing the construction plans,” said the page.
In a previous update, Kolfage said a private team is heading the effort because the “federal government won’t be able to accept our donations anytime soon.”
“We are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border,” the page said.
On his GoFundMe page, Kolfage gave an address for donors to send checks if they weren’t comfortable with electronic transactions.
The veteran said he has received 3,500 mail-in donations, but he doesn’t know how much they are worth.
On Jan. 12, Kolfage encouraged people to donate to the private fund.
“The fake news is saying that the money can’t go to the wall,” he said, reported Task and Purpose. “The money is all being refunded—it’s done; it’s over. They’re trying to discourage everybody. But that’s not the case at all. We’re still raising money on that GoFundMe. That GoFundMe has not stopped. It’s still picking up. We raised almost $200,000 since the announcement.”
Dustin Stockton, vice president of strategy and marketing for “We Build the Wall,” said the campaign is working with GoFundMe to communicate with donors who gave money before Jan. 11, on how they can transfer it to the new organization.
“We have worked closely with GoFundMe for weeks,” Stockton told Task and Purpose. “We remain in good standing with GoFundMe. We’re still actively taking contributions with GoFundMe on the page that are not subject to the opt-in process.”
BuzzFeed Report Disputed
Last week, BuzzFeed reported that Kolfage misused funds from a prior GoFundMe campaign to help wounded veterans.
However, Kolfage denied the claims in the BuzzFeed report, calling it a “fake article.”
The “money was raised for my mentor program,” Kolfage said. “The money wasn’t raised for a hospital or another charity it was raised for me to travel for my award winning mentor trips to visit wounded veterans.”