Guess Which Grifty Assholes Are Joining That Grifty 'GoFundMe' Wall Guy?
Somewhere in your muddled recollection of the recent Sacred Baby Day holiday, you may remember some grifty dipshit who started a GoFundMe to raise money to give Donald Trump for WALL. The campaign raised about $20 million, proving that PT Barnum may have badly underestimated the birth rate of suckers. Unfortunately for the campaign's organizer, Brian Kolfage, the federal government doesn't actually have any mechanism for accepting donations earmarked for anything, because the socialists in Congress insist on "budgets" and "appropriations" and taxes." The only government program that takes donations is the website to pay down the national debt. (Hey, a government website that's still up!) Yeah, we know you wanted to contribute an F-35 to your favorite Air Force squadron, but tough luck.
Once it was clear the funds couldn't go to the campaign's intended purpose, Kolfage announced he'd started a nonprofit group that would build its own wall "on private land" along the border, and that the donations would all go to that. But GoFundMe kind of noticed, and announced that the change in purpose (and falling short of the original one billion dollar goal) meant all the donations would be refunded unless donors specifically gave Kolfage permission to divert them to the new nonprofit.
Well by gosh, Brian Kolfage must be one trustworthy guy, because he says a whole bunch of people still want him to build Donald Trump's wall! And some of them are faaaamous!
Kolfage and the source close to the campaign claimed that $7 million had been redirected to We Build the Wall, Inc. Kolfage said more than 120,000 donors have chosen this option, a number GoFundMe did not confirm. After initially offering the $7 million figure Tuesday morning, Kolfage later said it was a "guess."
"Our donors gave to us to get the job done, and they trust us to do so," Kolfage said in an email to CBS News.
CBS asked how exactly the money would be spent, but Kolfage "declined to give specifics," instead directing them back to his GoFundMe page, which only says the money would "go toward wall construction only." No, you don't need to know how the Kolfage Wall will somehow synch up with Donald Trump's mythical WALL, or how building chunks of wall on private land is supposed to stop illegal border crossings. For all we know, Kolfage might take advantage of cheaper land by building his wall in Oklahoma, but definitely facing south. None shall pass.
Still, looks like Kolfage managed to get a whole bunch of luminaries from the rightwing Griftosphere to join up with his completely legitimate endeavor. The board includes big names like grifty immigration panic expert Kris Kobach, grifty high-end mercenary Erik Prince, grifty Fox News Sheriff David Clarke, grifty former congressman and immigration panic innovator Tom Tancredo, and two of the "angel parents" Trump trots out to prove that undocumented immigrants are all rapists and murderers. This thing's gonna go BIG. Kobach told the Daily Beast he had high hopes for this wonderful project:
"I joined the organization because its mission is of the highest importance to our country [...] The wall needs to be completed, and it needs to be done as soon as possible. The best way to accomplish that is through a combination of both public and private efforts.
For the donors who didn't jump at the chance to repurpose their money toward the new vague goal -- which honestly, isn't that much more nebulous than the first -- the remaining $13 million will be refunded. If they do nothing, GoFundMe will send back the money in April, but if they request it immediately, they'll be repaid within three business days.
Also too, since Kolfage's plan went viral in November, Buzzfeed has done some fine reporting on his background in -- hope you're sitting down! -- running a fake news website and a bunch of Facebook pages that reposted its content. What's more, former employees of that operation allege he's really not a nice man at all, and pushed them to fake up content whenever possible, and to "get creative with images" to maximize clickbait, as he suggested in an exchange of texts with one writer, Lindsay Lowery:
"So get creative like using fake photoshopped images?" she responded. "I was kind of taken back at this..."
"Yup it's just a graphic. Best story of [the] day," he said.
"It's fake," she replied. "I don't see how this [is] making us a legit website"
"That's not for u to worry about," Kolfage texted back. "And it's only on Facebook. Not the website."
Poor guy got kicked off Facebook eventually, and his website, Freedom Daily, has gone belly-up. (Yr Wonkette should probably buy the domain and redirect all the traffic here.) Lowery eventually quit, telling Buzzfeed that Kolfage "never wanted the truth. It was all just for clicks, and the more inflammatory, the better. I felt dirty writing the stuff." She also says after she quit, some really odd stuff happened, for some reason:
[One] day last July, her husband called in a panic. FBI agents were at the door of their Colorado home responding to an anonymous tip that the mother of two was planning "on going on a killing rampage and talked about killing people," Lowery said, which she insists never happened [...]
And then an anonymous tipster tried to cause trouble for her husband, who works at defense contractor Northrop Grumman, with a report that Lowery was working for "Macedonians" and wow, better do something about that security threat, huh? Fortunately, he showed his bosses screenshots of texts Kolfage sent Lowery saying "go fuck yourself," accusing her of "the highest level of betrayal," and promising to take down a new website Lowery had started, so nothing came of it. Nice guy!
Oh, and then there's the scammy "mentoring program" Kolfage ran a GoFundMe for in 2015. He raised $16,246 with an appeal to help wounded vets turn their lives around through a wonderful mentoring program run by Kolfage, who himself lost three limbs in an IED explosion in Iraq. Here's an archived Facebook post claiming Kolfage had to seek donations because "obama" personally slashed funding for the mentoring program. Hooray for the Wayback Machine, eh?
Damn you, obama, you e.e. cummings of vet haters! You can see why Kolfage would later want to photoshop obama's head onto another body and insist in all caps he'd been caught having an affair. It was a matter of justice.
Despite the claim that the mentoring was done "in conjunction with" those military hospitals -- Walter Reed, Brooke Army Medical Center, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany -- Buzzfeed found a whole 'nother reality:
But representatives for all three medical centers told BuzzFeed News that they have no record of any peer-mentoring programs or Kolfage working with patients at their centers.
"We do not have a record of Mr. Kolfage visiting Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in any official capacity after 2012," Gia E. Oney, chief of public affairs for Landstuhl, told BuzzFeed News. "We have no record of a donation made in his name to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center."
CBS News followed up with Kolfage, who said Buzzfeed had it all wrong, because duh, he knows from fake news:
In an email to CBS News, Kolfage disputed the BuzzFeed report, claiming that he used the funds to travel to the hospitals where he conducted his mentorship program. He called the piece a "fake article."
"They [sic] money was raised for my mentor program," Kolfage wrote in an email to CBS News on Tuesday. "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."
So you just never mind, he never said any of the money went to hospitals, it was for him to go mentor vets at military hospitals, and he totally did, as a ninja, which is why there's no record of him ever visiting in an "official" capacity. He had to do the mentoring on the sly, so obama wouldn't assassinate him for his patriotism.
Now give him wall money. You may not see the wall getting built, but it's there, in the hearts of all who love America. Believe.
Oh, yes, and the brilliantly counter-trolling campaign to raise money for "ladders"? It's raised over $161,000, and the money really has gone exactly where the organizers said it would from the start, to the Texas-based migrant-rights group RAICES. No phony-baloney walls or "mentoring" at all there.
[CBS News / Daily Beast / Buzzfeed News / Buzzfeed / Ladders to Get Over Trump's Wall]
Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Send us money to help us build a bridge -- to connect you to the finest commentary and fart jokes on the interwebs.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.