Here's a thing that's really cool about living in this country: If a majority of us agree to spend money on a thing, we can collect money for that thing and then spend it. It's called taxation and appropriations, and the U.S. Constitution talks all about it, and assigns some responsibility to our elected officials to do that thing.
However, the United States Constitution does not have any provisions for ridiculous GoFundMe campaigns to pay for racist ridiculous walls, no matter how hard right-wing scammers may wish it to be so. So far, Brian Kolfage's "We the People Will Fund The Wall" scam campaign has raised over $10 million out of their $1 billion goal, thanks to some good old-fashioned amplification on Fox News and other right-wing outlets.
Leaving aside campaign founder Brian Kolfage's sketchy dance with Facebook propaganda pages for a minute, his whole pitch reveals just how big of a scam this GoFundMe campaign really is.
Facts Are Handy
Here are Kolfage's claims on that GoFundMe page, followed by some facts:
The government has accepted large private donations before, most recently a billionaire donated $7.5 Million to fund half of the Washington Monument repairs in 2012; this is no different.
Au contraire. It is entirely different, as anyone simply reading the link he supplied would quickly see. When an earthquake damaged the Washington Monument, a billionaire did indeed step up and fund half the repair costs. This could be done because the Washington Monument, like the Lincoln Memorial and other Washington, D.C. landmarks, is a designated national park.
From the article:
Congress allocated $7.5 million in December on the condition that private donations would match that amount. The National Park Service and nonprofit Trust for the National Mall are expected to announce Rubenstein's gift Thursday morning. It will be the largest gift to the nonprofit group, which aims to raise $350 million to restore the mall's grounds and facilities.
Let's pay attention first to the sequence of events with this. First, Congress allocated some funds as they are supposed to do as part of their constitutional duties. They conditioned the expenditure of those funds on the contingency that private donors would match the same amount. Again, here's the sequence: Appropriation, then expenditure on an approved project subject to contingencies being met.
The gift itself was donated to a "nonprofit Trust for the National Mall" which exists to support a National Park.
Kolfage contends that putting out a large private hand which is not backed by a non-profit entity to pay for a structure which does not currently exist and which is certainly not supported by a long-standing nonprofit dedicated to supporting National Parks is exactly the same thing. Of course it isn't!
In fact, Kolfage would have a problem with the funds he's collecting, because the only constitutional entity authorized to spend public funds for an unnecessary wall to scratch a racist itch is -- say it with me, now -- CONGRESS.
And let's pretend for a minute that Congress said, okay, we'll allocate some money to a wall on the contigency that private funding matched it, and that somehow passed the soon-to-be very Democratic House of Representatives and garnered 60 votes in the Senate. There's still no non-profit vehicle in which to deposit those funds, and there is no non-profit vehicle connected to this GoFundMe campaign, which means that Kolfage cannot guarantee this:
How will we get the funds to the right place? 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. We have many very high level contacts already helping.
Anyone who would trust Donald Trump with their money is a fool, and giving money to a campaign that only promises to update when they've had discussions with their very high level contacts has promised absolutely nothing. But the Trump administration cannot accept the funds. Yes, they could be donated to the Treasury but they cannot be earmarked for specific expenditures because again, only Congress can appropriate funds to be spent, not racist people who think making America great again is scamming with right wing memes while harvesting email addresses and hefty donations from people.
Read that again and see if you can imagine Donald tweeting it. I certainly can. Vague, "trust me" statements from someone who isn't very trustworthy.
But just in case you weren't convinced, there's this:
Republican Representative Steven Palazzo of Mississippi is introducing legislation to direct the Treasury Department to issue government savings bonds which would allow us to fund the wall with this method. This is just one option, there are others on the table being discussed.
More BS. First of all, introducing legislation is not anything like passing it. Assuming there was such a bond issue, it would not happen for a very long time and does not need a man named Brian Kolfage to collect money via GoFundMe. Savings bonds are pretty simple devices: You loan the government small amounts of money and the government issues a note to pay off that money with interest in a set period of years. You don't need a third party to collect funds on a web site to do that.
100% of your donations will go to the Trump Wall.
No, they won't. See the reasons I've stated above.
We are working with a law firm on a legal document that will bind the government to using the funds for the border wall itself, nothing else.
That law firm will chew up a ton of that money to generate a pile of paper which, at the end of the day, will not change the fact that Congress has to appropriate money. Period. Not Joe Lawyer who wants to jack up some big fees for a thing that cannot be done that way.
We will hold all funds and not release a single penny until we have all legal aspects covered to ensure our money goes only to the wall.
Interest on $10 million is pretty hefty, dude. But really, you're never going to see any of that money. This is all astroturfy PR to encourage haters to hate harder, whether Mexico pays for the wall or not.
If we don’t reach our goal or come significantly close we will refund every single penny. We are working on a time frame to achieve.
Again with the vague waves toward ethical behavior using unethical methods. Give it up.
In case you haven't figured it out yet, there is a goal, but it's not really about raising $1 billion for a wall. This is about harvesting email addresses, names, and potential donors to the Trump 2020 campaign. At the rate they're raising money, it'll be many years before they get to that magic number.
Now, about Brian Kolfage. Kolfage may be a veteran and a triple amputee, but he's also a self-promoting purveyor of hate and propaganda on Facebook. He might promote himself as a "verified" Facebook entity, but that doesn't mean anything beyond proof of identity and little more. Media Matters has an extensive report on him. Here's just a little of it.
Kolfage has been involved in Facebook networks linking to fake news sites before. In October, the social media company banned a network of other Facebook pages connected to his fake news site Right Wing News for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
Since then, Kolfage appears to have coordinated with two blue badge-verified Facebook pages -- Conservative Post and American Joe -- and is using them in place of the removed pages to promote Right Wing News and now to promote his wall fundraising campaign.
About four days after Facebook removed the network of pages that funneled traffic to Right Wing News, the Conservative Post Facebook page (which has over 1.6 million page likes) began sporadically sharing links to Right Wing News’ website, at the time found at rwnofficial.com. Before that, Conservative Post almost exclusively shared links to conservativepost.com.
There's much more. There's always more. The bottom line here is that this is just another right-wing scam to harvest data on gullible people, promoted by Laura Ingraham and other Fox "News" personalities. GoFundMe should end it before it does harm to their reputation.