Famed fundraising platform GoFundMe was involved in a scandal that prompted GOP attorneys general to investigate irregularities of an alleged diversion of funds. The digital portal that denied fundraising to Canada’s Freedom Convoy for allegedly “violating policies” has, in other cases, allowed left-wing organizations to take advantage of its service.
“We Americans have a constitutionally protected right to donate money to whatever causes we choose, the Supreme Court ruled in Buckley v. Valeo. Money funds political activity, and limiting where we can donate is like gagging our speech,” columnist Betsy McCaughey denounced in a New York Post article.
It all started when the platform announced it had eliminated funding for the Canadian Freedom Convoy, which had raised more than $8 million to continue protests against health measures and the vaccination passport imposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The company noted that Convoy allegedly violated its terms of service by calling the peaceful demonstration an “occupation” and said it would refund the money to donors within 7 to 10 business days.
The fundraisers state in the campaign description that the funds would be directed to cover the travel costs of the truckers protesting in Ottawa, including food, fuel, and lodging. Meanwhile, it would ensure that the remaining funds would be divided among members of a veterans’ organization that would be chosen by the donors themselves.
But GoFundMe’s decision to ban protesters from collecting raised the ire of conservatives on both sides of the border and drew special scrutiny from several Republican U.S. attorneys general, who vowed to investigate the platform. Some of them claim that behind such a ban lay political reasons that would benefit left-leaning ideologies.
Prosecutors consider that GoFundMe’s decision violates the policies of states such as West Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas, from where some donors sent their money.
Although Freedom Convoy protesters got other alternatives to finance their demonstration, the question remained as to why GoFundMe blocked this particular fundraising, while other potentially risky campaigns other organizations are allowed.
Such is the case of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which was able to raise funds for its members to travel to Venezuela to meet with the local regime. Most democratic countries in the world, including the United States, do not recognize Nicolás Maduro’s leadership, as the dictator has been proved to repeatedly violate human rights.
DSA is the largest left-wing political organization in the United States, which includes members of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, who are also members of the ultra-left “squad” in the House of Representatives. They have advocated radical measures, ranging from the Green New Deal to the defunding of the police.
The DSA delegation that traveled to Venezuela included the chair of the National Political Committee, members of the International Committee, and members of the organization’s Political Training, Foreign Policy and Bilateral Relations sections; and they did so in part, thanks to a fundraiser they launched on May 16, 2021, via GoFundMe that raised $5,200.
It is unknown whether the Maduro regime also financed the American socialists’ trip to Venezuela. Had they received any payment or funding from the regime, the DSA members could face charges of violating U.S. sanctions that prevent any U.S. citizen from doing business with the regime.
But this is not the first time GoFundMe has allowed such fundraisers that could come under scrutiny following U.S. sanctions against those who do business with members of the Maduro regime.
Even now, GoFundMe is raising money for the Black Lives Matter NYC (BLM) organization to engage in “civil disobedience and disruption.”
“We engage in civil disobedience and disruption tactics to bring awareness to the injustices that the Black and oppressed communities face,” says the campaign organized by anonymous individuals. Remarkably, it has raised nearly $23,000.
The same goes for organizations like Antifa, which GoFundMe has enabled numerous fundraising campaigns.
“Antifa extremists have been using @GoFundMe for years. All of these are currently active campaigns I have just archived,” wrote Human Events Daily host Jack Posobiec on his Twitter account.
A fundraiser with a goal of $100,000 launched in February 2021 helps Antifa activists in Texas.
“We believe that the oppression of marginalized persons and people of all colors and genders is wrong. We need your help to advance our cause in a state where the fight intensifies daily. We can win!!!” the description reads.
U.S. lawmakers push for GoFundMe investigation
According to Pew Research, nearly a quarter of Americans donate on crowdfunding sites, so lawmakers and prosecutors were alarmed at the ease with which the fundraising company decided to suspend the campaign.
In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Sunday (Feb. 6), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked regulators to investigate allegations that GoFundMe committed a deceptive trade practice when they removed the “Freedom Convoy 2022” fundraiser.
“I am requesting that the Commission immediately open an investigation into the practices of GoFundMe and whether those practices constitute a violation of the statutory prohibition against unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” Cruz wrote.
Cruz is not alone in his criticism of GoFundMe. Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, also a Republican, have joined in.
“This BLM-backing company went woke, froze the funds, & failed to deliver Texans’ money,” Paxton tweeted. “Today I assembled a team to investigate their potential fraud & deception.”
“GoFundMe’s response to an anti-mandate, pro-liberty movement should ring alarm bells to anyone using the donation platform and, more broadly, any American wanting to protect their constitutional rights,” Paxton said in a statement.
“What they proposed to do publicly is unfair and potentially a violation of Ohio law,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) said in an interview with the Washington Post.
The attorneys general variously accused GoFundMe of fraud, deception and favoring politicians with the fundraising efforts it chooses to promote.
Paxton has cast the issue in political terms, calling GoFundMe a “BLM-backed company.”
Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk joined in the criticism, sharing a meme calling GoFundMe “professional thieves.”