Border Wall GoFundMe Donors Taking Huge Risk In Giving To Brian Kolfage’s Nonprofit, Watchdogs Warn

Andrew Kerr | Investigative Reporter
  • Triple-amputee Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage says, without evidence, that his new nonprofit organization can build a wall on the southern border for half the cost of the federal government.
  • Kolfage said Wednesday donors have transferred $11 million of the $20 million he raised on GoFundMe into the coffers of his nonprofit.
  • Kolfage says the bylaws of the nonprofit prevent him from collecting any compensation, but his lawyer said the document is still being finalized.
  • Donors are “taking a huge risk” by placing blind trust in Kolfage, said Charity Watch analyst Stephanie Kalivas.

Charity watchdogs say donors are taking a huge risk placing blind trust in the founder of the viral $20 million border wall GoFundMe campaign, which in recent weeks has transferred millions of dollars into a new nonprofit organization that he says, without evidence, can build a southern border wall for half the cost of the federal government.

Triple-amputee Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage says he will not receive any compensation from We Build The Wall Inc., his new Florida-based nonprofit organization, because its bylaws prevent him from doing so.

Kolfage’s lawyer provided TheDCNF a draft copy of the bylaws, which includes a section which states: “Mr. Kolfage will take no salary for the performance of his duties as President of the Corporation.”

But Kolfage’s lawyer told TheDCNF last Thursday that the bylaws are subject to changes until they’re finalized, which he said would be within two business days. One week later, the lawyer said they’re “still finalizing” the bylaws.

Kolfage said in an email last week to TheDNCF that he didn’t want to “leak” his bylaws “and then have every other media outlet bugging us for it.”

Kolfage also tweeted that his team of experts have put together a “white paper” that provides “every detail” behind his plan to construct a border wall along “the entire southern border.”

But Kolfage wouldn’t say when that white paper would be released.

“Those are in the hands of our construction committee, when they are ready to release they will do so,” he told TheDCNF.

GoFundMe said on Jan. 11 that all contributions to Kolfage’s fundraiser would be returned on April 10 unless donors choose to transfer their contributions to his new Florida-based nonprofit. Kolfage told One America News on Wednesday he’s transferred “approximately $11 million” from his GoFundMe campaign into his nonprofit.

An analyst with the watchdog group Charity Watch, Stephanie Kalivas, said donors should take pause at Kolfage’s unwillingness to provide transparency into his ambitious project.

“With no established track record, Kolfage should be even more willing to be transparent with the public,” Kalivas said. “The apparent lack of established governing documents, and Kolfage’s unwillingness to make available to the public the ‘white paper’ he claims has already been prepared ‘to every detail’ are additional red flags.”

“Donors are taking a huge risk in blindly trusting that Kolfage will keep to, or be able to execute on, his claims, especially considering the magnitude of the purported mission,” she added.

Kolfage’s nonprofit will be required to file financial documents to the IRS disclosing publicly how it spent its money, but it will take well over a year before the public will be able to review them.

Former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, who ran the service from 2003 to 2007, noted that the money Kolfage raises “would have come and gone by the time anyone understands what happened with it.”

“There’s a significant lag, so donors won’t be able to see how they’re really spending the money,” Everson, who’s now the vice chair of the Alliant Group, told TheDCNF. “They won’t see that for a long time.”

US workers are photographed during construction of 32km of the border wall by order of US President Donald Trump on the border between Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico and Santa Teresa, New Mexico state, US, on April 17, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / HERIKA MARTINEZ / Getty Images

US workers are photographed during construction of the border wall by order of President Donald Trump on the border between Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico and Santa Teresa. / AFP PHOTO / HERIKA MARTINEZ / Getty Images

TheDCNF reported on Jan. 14 that Kolfage was refusing to respond to questions about his new organization, including why it was directing check donations to an entirely different organization. (RELATED: ‘Huge Red Flag’: Border Wall GoFundMe Founder Refuses To Answer Basic Questions About His New Nonprofit)

Following publication, Kolfage tweeted that TheDCNF “made a huge mistake” in its reporting and is “correcting their article and retracting accusations.”

TheDCNF made no such promise to Kolfage. In fact, its reporting prompted Kolfage to correct his website and GoFundMe page to address check donations to We Build the Wall Inc.

It’s unclear how much money Kolfage has received in check donations. His nonprofit said in a press release on Jan. 14 that it had received “3,500 plus checks which are presently being processed by a bonded and insured caging and escrow services provider.”

But in an email the same day, Kolfage told TheDNCF that “many tens of thousands of Americans sent checks to support the We Fund The Wall campaign.”

TheDCNF independently confirmed with the third-party secure caging company that it is processing checks for Kolfage’s nonprofit. The company wished to stay anonymous due to security and harassment concerns.

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