Instead, he now plans to build the wall himself.
“When I created this fundraiser, I said if we did not reach our goal we will refund donors,” Brian Kolfage said in a statement posted to the GoFundMe page. “I am honoring that commitment today. We will promptly refund your donation unless you tell us you approve our new plan for action.”
Kolfage, an Air Force veteran, claimed that he would start his own charity and organize resources to begin construction on the wall. He tapped former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Blackwater founder Erik Prince as advisers.
“We are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border,” he said. “Our team strongly believes that we can complete our segments of the wall for less than half of the government’s estimated costs on a per mile basis.”
The campaign had raised $20 million as of Friday afternoon. HuffPost was unable to verify the charity’s status, and the GoFundMe page is still active. GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said “it’s up to the campaign organizer to turn donations off.” He said donors will be given a choice to either receive a refund or have their contributions transferred to the new organization, which he said GoFundMe reviewed.
Friday marked the 21st day of a partial federal government shutdown over funding for the wall. Trump has repeatedly said he will not sign any legislation to reopen the government unless it includes $5.7 billion for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and Democrats have refused to comply with that request.
As the online fundraiser gained steam last month, Kolfage came under scrutiny over his involvement with a series of Facebook scams. As NBC first reported, he was kicked off the social media network for posting misinformation, hoaxes and inflammatory language in order to drive traffic to affiliate websites.
“My personal issues have nothing to do with building the wall,” Kolfage told NBC when asked why he failed to mention the scams to his wall donors.
This article has been updated with additional comments from GoFundMe.