Patriot Grifter WALL Guy Brian Kolfage Building Army Of Death-Threating Trolls
Remember Brian Kolfage, the triple-amputee Iraq veteran who raised an assload of money to help Donald Trump build WALL, then found out that wasn't legal, so he created a nonprofit called "We Build the Wall" (incorrectly spelled with some lowercase letters) to put up WALL on private land? The group managed to put up two sections of WALL that are wholly separate from Donald Trump's beloved project, which border-crossers can craftily avoid by going around them, and one of the WALL sections may get eated by the Rio Grande but lots of wingnut patriots think Kolfage is maybe the third greatest American ever, after Donald Trump and Alex Jones. Too bad he and one of his partners, Steve Bannon, got charged by the feds with defrauding their donors by allegedly taking a lot of that money and spending it on themselves, presumably to reward their own patriotism.
In a follow-up story to their earlier joint reporting on just how shitty and fally-downy the Texas section of WALL is, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune recently reported on Kolfage's other fun hobby, which is sending an army of social media followers after anyone who speaks ill of him. Kolfage's supporters know he is American Patriotism personified, so anyone who opposes his WALL is clearly an enemy of the USA. And how's this for fun? The reporters found that while Kolfage has personally been banned by Facebook, he's still able to lead his online brigades through a "fan page" that he supposedly can't access because it's run by his wife. Yet somehow, people are still informed who their enemies are! Like particularly anyone in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, which is pursuing the fraud case and is obviously part of the Deep State.
The report, based on multiple interviews and "hundreds of screenshots of since-deleted social media posts," not to mention records from two defamation lawsuits, details how, since he became a rightwing mover and shaker around 2013, Kolfage has unleashed his rabid followers on an array of people, enough to have
spawned an informal support group of individuals who have felt his wrath, including fellow veterans and progressives, as well as some of Kolfage's former conservative allies.
Among those he's targeted have been people Kolfage perceived as getting in the way of WALL, like the mayor of a New Mexico town who — like some kind of communist — tried to stop Kolfage from throwing up the structure without building permits. Or a priest in Texas who preferred not to have his historic mission flooded if the WALL going up along the Rio Grande changed the river's flow due to high water. Also the head of a neighboring wildlife refuge who opposed WALL. And the staff of an international commission that has jurisdiction over construction along the Rio Grande.
Facebook Is A Hive Of Scum And Villainy
Other folks who subjected to the wrath of Kolfage's online jihadists included Jan Vrotsos, a 61-year-old woman whose name and Facebook ID were falsely attached to a post attacking Kolfage and disabled vets, as well as Jackie Millinor, 64, a retired Air Force vet who wrote in defense of Vrotsos. Both received all sorts of hideous messages and threats — not just online, but over the phone, too.
Vrotsos somehow got the attention of Kolfage's army in 2013 when she posted a sympathy message for what she thought was a family who had lost a child to cancer. The post she replied to was on a fake page Kolfage fans had created to ensnare a completely unrelated liberal blogger. And then shit, as it does on the internet, went weird:
Someone, it's unclear who, then posted a fabricated comment to Kolfage from Vrotsos calling disabled veterans worthless. "I hope you die a miserable death you worthless fake hero. You and your family will be a burden on tax payers your entire life," the fake message read, accompanied by Vrotsos' profile picture of her standing in front of a sunflower field with her cocker spaniel, Buddy.
The post went viral. It was shared by Kolfage and his followers, along with Vrotsos' picture, email and home address, as well as the phone numbers of her and her mother.
"This lady is enjoying her freedom at the expense of my legs and hand and enjoys bashing wounded warriors," Kolfage wrote on social media. "EXPOSE HER." It was liked by nearly 1,300 people and shared more than 12,000 times.
Then Vrotsos's mother, then 81, started getting phone calls telling her that her daughter needed to get her affairs in order. Vrotsos herself was targeted with hundreds of threats, including one lover of America and all that's good and holy who said they hoped she would be "mugged and raped at gunpoint by a aids ridden piece of filth." That'll learn her to attack a disabled vet, which she hadn't.
Police told Vrotsos that unfortunately there was little they could do, because First Amendment, unless she experienced "real threats and intentional ID theft." They suggested she might sue, and eventually she did, which won her an apology from Kolfage, isn't that great? And now everything's not quite fine:
But what bothered her the most, she said in a recent phone interview, is that the harassers found out where her dad was buried, and that they threatened to dig up the World War II veteran and "piss on his grave."
"I was petrified," she said. She didn't leave her house for weeks. It would be years before she stopped looking over her shoulder, afraid people would recognize her.
Oh, yes, and until all that started, she'd never heard of Kolfage. Now she has! Bet she'll think twice before insulting a vet, not that she ever did, even once. Millinor, for her part, got attacked simply for posting a message in support of Vrotsos; in return, she got doxxed and harassed, and says Kolfage contacted her employer and urged she be fired for "harassing" a wounded warrior. It didn't work, but she had such serious stress that she was hospitalized for gastrointestinal issues.
"It broke a piece of me," Millinor said recently. "I'm not the same person now as before, after what Brian Kolfage did to me. My own family members thought I was crazy."
Up Against The WALL
The opponents of the Texas and New Mexico WALL projects got the full Kolfage, too, being accused of supporting immigrant smugglers, child traffickers, and sex trafficking. The mayor of Sunland Park, New Mexico, Javier Perea, got death threats and warnings to watch his back after he brazenly said We Build the Wall needed a construction permit; he dismisses the harassment as a publicity stunt aimed at fundraising, but says even a year later he still had thousands of unread emails about the matter.
The International Boundary and Water Commission, located in El Paso, was accused by Kolfage of trying to support illegal immigration when officials "opened a gate We Build the Wall constructed on federal property without permission." Yes, really. Clearly, commissioner Jayne Harkins was leaving the gate open to help out illegal border crossers, although she was a Trump appointee. A spokesperson for the commission, Sally Spener, said it was difficult to get anything done in the office because of all the people calling to yell "#CloseTheGate," and we bet most of them said the hashtag out loud, too.
Asked about that mess, Kolfage told ProPublica and the Tribune that the border region is lousy with corruption! "It was border patrol agents who alerted us that the very first people to come out strong against our wall were the ones paid off," he explained. Which surely justified the death threats against the priest, and against Marianna Treviño-Wright, the director of the National Butterfly Center, which is next door to the Rio Grande WALL. Kolfage accused her of enabling sex trafficking, and also sent a nice tweet to let her know there were "snipers in your bushes doing security for our team." For some reason, she considered that a threat; she's also filed a defamation suit against Kolfage.
And now Kolfage's army is going after the federal prosecutors in New York because obviously they're part of a plot to destroy him and America.
A recent Facebook post garnered more than 1,500 angry comments supporting him.
"I see public hangings on the White house lawn," one person commented on a recent post about why the indictment was a political hit job, adding, "Obama should be 1st."
Kolfage also has no end of supporters in wingnut media, like Stupidest Man on the Internet Jim Hoft, whose Gateway Pundit today called the fraud prosecution "the most egregious abuse of power in US history," recounted what a hero Kolfage is, and retold the story of his August arrest at length (misspelling his name at least once, because the site has a reputation to uphold). You have to read all the way to the penultimate paragraph to find the supposed news hook: The New Jersey AG is looking at prosecuting We Build the Wall for fraud, too. HOW UNFAIR! Clearly, the piece closes, "The abuse of power by crooked Democrat attorneys in positions of power will not end."
We'll just float this possibility raised by Robyn in the Wonkette chatcave: Why charge rightwing grifters for fraud at all, when it looks like their victims are so eager to throw money at them even if the funds end up lining their pockets? Let them eat fraud, because they think fraud is yummy — and what's more, they get very angry if you try to interfere in their God-given right to throw money at people who are ripping them off.
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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.