The Wall Scam: Bigots and Their Money Are Soon Parted

I know we should feel sorry for the victims of scams, but in this case it’s hard to contain the schadenfreude:

December fundraising campaign brought in more than $20 million over the course of a few weeks, its thousands of donors united by a common goal: the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, oft-promised by President Trump.

Some four months later, a contingent of those supporters is ready to see what their money has built.

The now-famous border wall GoFundMe was conceived by Purple Heart recipient Brian Kolfage, who wrote at the time he was upset by “too many illegals . . . taking advantage of the United States taxpayers,” and the “political games from both parties” when it came to border security. Kolfage, a triple amputee, pressed onward despite falling short of his $1 billion goal — launching a nonprofit to build portions of the wall on private land for a “fraction of what it costs the government.”

It’s theoretically possible that Kolfage will follow through on his promises. But it’s less than likely: Kolfage has no experience with this sort of logistical undertaking. His principal experience seems to be in running con jobs targeting online conservatives:

Some critics noted Kolfage was accused of shady behavior in the past, including allegations of misusing funds he raised. NBC and BuzzFeed investigations earlier this year alleged that Kolfage peddled false articles and conspiracy theories with the intent of harvesting reader email addresses. The purported scheme would draw people back to his websites and Facebook pages, generating hundreds of thousands in advertising revenue, Buzzfeed reported.

Facebook removed several of the pages he operated last year, according to NBC, in a purge of pages that were used to “drive traffic to their websites.” In response, Kolfage created a new campaign, “Fight4FreeSpeech,” which also accepts donations.

Kolfage probably does believe in his ideology, for what it’s worth. Or maybe not. But this isn’t about him.

This is about the the hundreds of thousands of gullible people who donated millions of dollars to a complete stranger with no construction experience, not to do something good in the world or to help people, but to erect pieces of a racist icon that their ineffectual president couldn’t deliver.

It should come as no surprise that since the effort would legally have to only take place on the private property of sympathetic individuals, it would be a disjointed mess subjected to lawsuits. It should also be obvious that any “wall” built in that context would be unofficial and temporary, with no force of weight under law to be protected except on the whim of the landowner.

It says everything about Trump’s base that they chose to throw $20 million at this mess, rather than spend it on … well, just about anything else. And it says everything about the conservative movement that they appear to have been taken for a ride.

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David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.