Jason Hopkins, DCNF
- A GoFundMe campaign to fund President Donald Trump’s border wall raised nearly $13 million in several days.
- There are lingering questions over whether the funds can be used toward construction of the wall, with congressional approval needed to direct the money toward Homeland Security.
- Trump and congressional Democrats appear ready to enter a government shutdown over funding for the wall’s construction.
A crowdfunding campaign to pay for a proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico is raking in millions of dollars by the day, but can the government actually use the money?
“We The People Will Fund The Wall” is the name of a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising cash to construct President Donald Trump’s wall on the U.S. southern border. The crowdfunding effort witnessed remarkable attention since Brian Kolfage, a triple-amputee Iraq veteran, launched the page Sunday. As of publication of this article, the GoFundMe campaign raised almost $13 million from more than 210,000 people.
“This is the United States and we can do anything we want,” Kolfage said Thursday night on Fox News. “If people want to donate to that wall and give their money, they can do it.”
The Purple Heart veteran said he’s received support and donations from Republicans and Democrats alike.
The campaign hasn’t only attracted small-dollar donations. A few people dropped considerable amounts of cash, with several donations totaling $10,000 or more, and the highest single contribution being $50,000.
However, there are mounting questions over whether the GoFundMe cash can actually go toward construction of a border wall. Kolfage assured donors that 100 percent the money will be used for the wall’s construction. If not, he says every single penny will be reimbursed.
“We have contacted the Trump Administration to secure a point of contact where all the funds will go upon completion. When we get this information secured we will update,” Kolfage wrote in the description page, adding that his group will cover “all legal aspects” before releasing any of the money.
The “legal aspects” remain unclear. Private citizens are allowed to raise money for the federal government, but they cannot specifically direct the government how to spend those funds.
A citizen can make a general donation to the U.S. government that is placed into a “Gifts to the United Sate” fund and be used for “general use,” according to the Treasury Department. Approval from Congress would be needed before the GoFundMe cash could be directed to the Department of Homeland Security.
Kolfage said his group is working with a law firm on several possible options to ensure sure the funds go toward the wall. Republican Mississippi Rep. Steve Palazzo, for example, introduced legislation that would allow for private funding of the border wall. The Border Bonds for America Act of 2018 would let citizens purchase revenue bonds to finance the wall’s construction.
“In November of 2016, Americans voted for better border security and as Vice-Chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I believe this legislation allows new alternatives for our citizens to support their values and defend our homeland,” Palazzo said in a Monday press release.
GoFundMe rules stipulate that money raised must go toward the advertised caused. If not, all funds must be given back to donors — a rule Kolfage pledged to follow.
Meanwhile, Trump and congressional Democrats appear to be headed for a government shutdown over the border wall funding fight. The president indicated he is prepared for a drawn-out battle to secure funding, and doesn’t mind if a shutdown occurs.
“We are totally prepared for a very long shut down. This is our only chance that we will ever have in our opinion,” he said at a bill-signing ceremony Friday.
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