As of this writing, we’re in a partial government shut down. Our president, who had earlier agreed to sign a compromise bill to keep the government funded until February 2019 abruptly reversed course after being criticized by pundits, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.
He wanted an arbitrary amount – $5 billion – to fund a wall on the southern border.
Of course, there has been no planning or actual consideration and the amount is just a random tax on American citizens.
Let’s keep in mind that throughout his campaign, Trump insisted Mexico would pay for the wall, but when he saw that wasn’t going to happen, it became the problem of American taxpayers, and that Mexico would pay for it in “other ways.”
Most of us knew that was a load of bovine fecal matter, but there are still those devoted Branch Trumpidians that cling to the hope of a Mexican-funded border wall.
And then there are those that have no clue about government financing, and have decided to take matters into their own hands.
Enter Brian Kolfage, the Iraq war veteran and triple amputee who has started a GoFundMe campaign, urging all those that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 to donate to the cause, in order to raise the money for the wall, themselves.
Kolfage insists on the page that he has contacts with the Trump administration and that the page is completely legit, with arrangements to get the money to the government already set up.
He’s also touted his own credentials, pointing out that he’s using his own name, and asking donors to check out his Facebook page.
The pitch has worked. One anonymous donor gave over $50,000 to the cause at 4 p.m. on Thursday. The GoFundMe trended on Twitter most of Thursday and received widespread media attention.
Kolfage told NBC News he’s plans to rely on connections in the White House to make sure the wall is funded, saying “we have a lot of people watching this,” which would “serve as a motivating factor not to screw this up.”
“We have someone who is tied in with the White House that’s in their inner-circle,” Kolfage said. “We can work on a way where we can guarantee with a contract where [the funding] can only go to the wall.”
So I’m going to go ahead and say that while I admire folks who are willing to dig into their own pockets to make this happen (even though they don’t seem to understand that if Trump gets his way, it’s already their own money going to the wall), it’s hard not to see this as a monumental grift.
It becomes even more sketchy when you hear that Kolfage didn’t mention a few things in his extensive explanation of who he was and his background.
He’s also the founder of a Facebook page called Right Wing News, along with a few other affiliated pages, that were pulled down by the site for pushing conspiracy theories and “fake news.”
Facebook targeted over 559 sites, for “using fake accounts… to drive traffic to their websites” or “were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.”
Days after the pulldown, Kolfage created a group called Fight4FreeSpeech, which accepts donations, and is also not referenced in the GoFundMe.
And he didn’t mention that he was a wannabe Alex Jones because he didn’t want it to distract from the grift fundraiser.
“I don’t wanna mix the two. That shouldn’t be the focus. My personal issues have nothing to do with building the wall,” he said.
But maybe people with “personal issues” shouldn’t be in charge of such large amounts of money?
The last time I peeked in on the fundraiser, it was over $10 million.
You know what they say about fools and their money.
Kolfage also ran Right Wing News’ shuttered affiliate sites including VeteranAF and FreedomDaily, which pushed false conspiracy theories, like ones claiming Hillary Clinton was secretly hiding deadly illnesses and fake voter fraud stories days before the 2016 election.
Those sites closed in March, closely following a lawsuit from a man named Joel Vangheluwe. He sued FreedomDaily for publicly naming him as the driver of the car that slammed into protesters at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman.
They got that info from the notorious garbage info board, 4chan.
The sites often trafficked in false, inflammatory and racist content, including headlines like “Obnoxious Black People Lose Their Minds When Victoria Secret Models Say This 1 Word On Live Video” and “Trump Just Released Embarrassing Vids Of Obama’s Muslim Friends That He Never Wanted Seen.”
FreedomDaily and VeteranAF frequently ran identical stories by users with different bylines. Several stories on FreedomDaily written by “Liberty Belle” also appear on “VeteranAF” under the byline “Lady Liberty.”
We’ve all seen those ridiculous click-baity sites.
Now, it appears, Kolfage has created one, really successful click bait page with this wall fundraiser.
I’ve been pointing out to people that it is highly unlikely that a dime of that money will be spent on a border wall.
Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA.) is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. While he admires the effort, he dropped some truth about a GoFundMe for a border wall:
“I think it’s admirable, and I think that the country should respond,” Goodlatte told The Post. “Obviously, we can’t let citizens raise money and say, ‘The government will spend my money on this purpose.’ ”
According to the Treasury Department, general donations to the feds are directed to a “Gifts to the United States” fund, set aside for “general use” by the federal government or “budget needs.”
Specific federal agencies can’t touch this funding without a congressional appropriation.
That’s right. You don’t just get to give money to the government and say, “Do this with it.”
That’s not how our government works, and Kolfage’s assurances to the dupes donors to this fund was made either in error or with questionable intent.
And yes, I realize bringing knowledge to the MAGA masses will be met with angry howls of protest and intense gnashing of teeth, but there it is.
If it turns out that the government can’t, or won’t accept the money from the fundraiser, GoFundMe’s policy indicates that all the donations must be refunded, so there’s that.
If there’s any moral to this story, it’s that pushers of internet conspiracy theories do not make for the best investment of your hard earned money.