Brian Kolfage, an Air Force veteran who lives in Florida, said he felt “deeply invested” in seeing the proposed wall come to fruition. The wall, which Trump has repeatedly promised, still has not been started as Washington braces for a government shutdown over the president’s demand for taxpayer funding.
“If we can fund a large portion of this wall, it will jumpstart things and will be less money Trump has to secure from our politicians,” Kolfage wrote on the GoFundMe page for the wall campaign.
More than 180,000 people had donated a staggering $12 million as of Friday morning. Kolfage is still eons away from his $1 billion goal, and it’s unclear what will happen to the money. As USA Today noted, private citizens need congressional approval before they can donate money directly to the Department of Homeland Security.
Kolfage told HuffPost he had “several options on the table,” including donating the money to an unspecified charity that he said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) recommended. He also said he didn’t know how long he would keep the fundraiser open, but that it wouldn’t be indefinite.
“We don’t know [what comes next], we’re just playing it by ear,” he said. “We’re waiting to see what happens with the wall itself.”
Kolfage said he has discussed the fundraiser with someone in the White House “inner circle,” but he declined to say who.
Unlike other fundraising websites, GoFundMe doesn’t automatically return donations if a goal isn’t reached. Kolfage said the charity website wouldn’t allow him to choose a higher target than $1 billion, which is only 20 percent of the funding Trump has requested from Congress for the wall.
And what if Congress does end up paying for the wall? Kolfage said he would try to return the donations but claimed he has already gotten pushback from participants who don’t want to see their money returned.
“The American people want the wall,” he said.
Meanwhile, a number of opposing fundraising efforts have popped up in response to the wall campaign, including one for ladders and another to build an escalator.
A statement on Kolfage’s GoFundMe page insists the fundraiser is not a scam because “[p]eople who try to scam you will not be upfront with their information.”
However, Kolfage failed to disclose that he once ran a series of Facebook pages that were shut down in a crackdown on spam. According to NBC News, the Facebook pages sent users to affiliate websites, using conspiracy theories and racist content to drive traffic.
Kolfage told The Guardian at the time that the Facebook crackdown was “a complete shock.” He then created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a legal effort to revive the pages.
“Facebook shut down my primary source of income by deleting my pages,” he wrote, claiming he was working with a “major law firm.”
Kolfage told NBC News he didn’t disclose the Facebook controversy on the wall website because “my personal issues have nothing to do with building the wall.”
Kolfage, who is a triple amputee, also made waves in 2015 over his opposition to a rainbow flag seen at an Arizona Air Force base. He called the flag ― an apparent gay pride symbol ― a “perversion of Old Glory” in an article for the Blaze.
In other articles for the conservative site, Kolfage attacked a prominent imam for speaking Arabic at a Veterans Day event and claimed without evidence that a former adviser to then-President Barack Obama was sympathetic to terrorists.
This article has been updated to include comments from Kolfage and some of his history of controversy.