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