A December fundraising campaign took in more than $20 million over the course of a few weeks, with its thousands of donors united by a common goal: the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, oft-promised by President Donald Trump.
Months later, a contingent of those supporters is ready to see what the money has built.
The GoFundMe campaign was conceived by Purple Heart recipient Brian Kolfage, who wrote at the time that he was upset by “too many illegals … taking advantage of the United States taxpayers,” as well as 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.”
While many donors continue to believe in Kolfage’s efforts, the nonprofit’s clandestine operations and assurances of progress are seen as insufficient by others. Some have taken to social media, seeking photos, videos — anything — for evidence they aren’t being misled.
“I am very disappointed in you Brian Kolfage, where are the progress photographs?” one woman posted to the We Build The Wall Facebook page.
“Quit talking about it and do it,” another commented.
An article on the apparent lack of progress on the private wall, published early Friday by the Daily Beast, drew criticism from Kolfage. The veteran called out the article’s author, Will Sommer, who indicated he has repeatedly asked Kolfage for proof that the group is close to a groundbreaking.
“Omg this is PERFECT timing by the liberal rag news site. They are about to look more stupid than hillaryclinton on election night 2016!” Kolfage wrote. “I guaranteed we would build the wall … and I’ll leave it at that!”
Kolfage did not respond to an email and message from The Washington Post requesting comment Friday. While the nonprofit has floated various groundbreaking dates in the past, it’s not exactly clear when, or if, construction will begin.
“We should be turning dirt on this thing by May 1, June 1 at the latest, according to our experts,” Kolfage told Politico in February. In a March 21 interview with American Family Radio, however, Kolfage asserted the group would “start breaking ground” in April.
Some critics note that 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 of dollars 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.”
BuzzFeed looked into Kolfage’s previous crowdfunding efforts, which included an initiative to mentor wounded veterans at military hospitals — among them Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland and Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. He raised thousands for the project, according to BuzzFeed, but spokesmen for the medical facilities said they have no record of him working at the hospitals or donating money.
Asked about the story in January, Kolfage told The Washington Post that BuzzFeed “100 percent lied.” He said the money was raised to cover his travel expenses and that he only used it for that purpose.
On Friday, many supporters of Kolfage called the Daily Beast story “fake news” intended to stymie donations. We Build The Wall tried to reassure commenters that the wall is on its way.
“This is what we call FAKE NEWS,” one post said.
As of Friday night, the group said it will break ground “shortly.”