The GoFundMe campaign that aimed to raise $1 billion for the border wall is shutting down, and the $20 million raised will be refunded to donors.
A GoFundMe spokesman, Bobby Whithorne, told INSIDER that the campaign’s founder, Brian Kolfage, initially promised donors that all donations would be used to pay for a wall along the US-Mexico border, like the one President Donald Trump has proposed, if it met its $1 billion goal.
“However, that did not happen,” Whithorne said. “This means all donors will receive a refund.”
Kolfage, a US veteran who supports Trump, updated the campaign’s page on Friday announcing the refunds. He said donors could redirect their donations to a new “501(c)(4) non-profit Florida Corporation named ‘We Build the Wall, Inc.'” if they still wished for their money to be used, in one way or another, to build a wall.
In his update, Kolfage said he had reached out to several experts in “law, politics, national security, construction, and finance” and created a team that “has spent countless hours over the holidays reviewing all issues pertaining to the construction of a southern border wall.”
“Unanimously,” Kolfage said, “we have all come to the conclusion that the federal government won’t be able to accept our donations anytime soon.”
He said this was why his new nonprofit would accept any donations previously made to the GoFundMe campaign.
Among the group of people listed on the GoFundMe page as being involved with the nonprofit are Erik Prince, an American businessman known for founding the security firm Blackwater (he is also Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother), David Clarke, the former Wisconsin sheriff known for expressing controversial views on immigration, and Mary Ann Mendoza, a proponent of stricter immigration laws whose son died when his car was hit by an intoxicated driver who authorities said had been in the country illegally.
The group also includes Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, who in a statement said that “when government fails in its most important duties — protecting its citizens and preserving the country’s sovereignty — We the People have the right to do it ourselves.”
In the update, Kolfage said the group was “highly confident” that it could “complete significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money, than the federal government, while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications.”
In a statement to INSIDER, Kolfage said the group was “already taking action on identifying the most densely crossed areas of the border, soliciting affected landowners along the Southern border, and ascertaining the willingness of border landowners to provide no or low-cost easements on their property for wall construction.”
He added: “Better equipped than our own federal government, we have made significant progress in less than a month, having begun extensive due diligence and commenced feasibility studies.”
Whithorne told INSIDER that if a person who donated to the original GoFundMe campaign did not want a refund and instead wanted the money to go to the new organization, “they must proactively elect to redirect their donation to that organization,” adding that “if they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund.”
“All donors will be contacted by GoFundMe via email, and they can also find additional the donor form directly on the campaign page,” he said.
The GoFundMe campaign went viral during the week of its creation in December. Reports soon surfaced of Kolfage’s previous endeavors, which included stints running conspiracy-theory websites and a related Facebook page that was kicked off the platform in October.