GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne told INSIDER that when the campaign was started, founder Brian Kolfage promised donors that all donations would be used to pay for a border wall between the US and Mexico if the $1 billion goal was met.
"However, that did not happen," Whithorne said. "This means all donors will receive a refund."
Kolfage, a US veteran and Trump supporter, updated the campaign's GoFundMe page on Friday announcing the refunds. He also introduced a new 501(c)(4) non-profit Florida Corporation named We Build the Wall, Inc., where donors can redirect their refunds to if they still wish for their money to be used, in one way or another, to build a wall.
In his update, Kolfage said that upon seeing the fundraiser's "success," he reached out to several experts in "politics, national security, construction, and finance" and created a team that "has spent countless hours over the holidays reviewing all issues pertaining to the construction of a southern border wall."
"Unanimously," Kolfage wrote, "we have all come to the conclusion that the federal government wont be able to accept our donations anytime soon."
This is why, he wrote, his new non-profit will now accept any donations previously made to the GoFundMe.
Among the group of "experts" listed on the GoFundMe page are Erik Prince, an American businessman known as the founder of the security firm Blackwater (he is also Betsy DeVos' brother), Sheriff David Clarke, the former Milwaukee County sheriff known for his controversial views on immigration, and frequent Trump campaigner Steve Ronnebeck, whose 21-year-old son Grant was murdered by an undocumented immigrant in 2015.
The group also includes Kris Kobach, former Kansas secretary of state, who in a statement said that "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."
In the update, Kolfage said the group "is highly confident" that it can complete "significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money, than the federal government, while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications."
Whithorne told INSIDER that if a donor to the original GoFundMe campaign does not want a refund and instead want the money 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." "All donors will be contacted by GoFundMe via email and they can also find additional the donor form directly on the campaign page," he said.
The GoFundMe campaign went viral during the week of its creation in December 2018. Soon after, reports followed of Kolfage's previous endeavours, which included stints running conspiracy-theory websites and a related Facebook page that was kicked off the platform in October.
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