Last month, a GoFundMe campaign was launched titled “We The People Will Fund The Wall,” purporting to collect money for President Donald Trump’s border wall so that Congress would not need to. The page has raised over $20 million.
But who is behind this?
The person who created the campaign is Brian Kolfage, a decorated Iraq War veteran and ultraconservative activist in Florida. He has also launched past GoFundMe campaigns ostensibly to mentor veterans at military hospitals, although no medical center has reported receiving any money or volunteer work from him, according to a report from BuzzFeed News.
He also reportedly ran a deliberate fake news operation for his own financial gain. The report explained:
Lindsay Lowery, who goes by the alias Prissy Holly, worked for Kolfage’s main conservative news website, Freedom Daily, for about a year in 2017 as Trump’s presidency began to take shape and the world of fake news on Facebook remained largely unabated.
“After I started challenging some of his business decisions that I felt were reckless for the company and for my career, the real Brian emerged,” she told BuzzFeed News. “Everything is only about his ‘war hero’ persona and money. If there’s a perceived slight on his part, he viciously attacks people…and, in my case, tries to destroy their life and livelihood.”
BuzzFeed News reviewed a cache of internal emails and text messages from several of Kolfage’s former employees and acquaintances that show how he pushed to sensationalize and fabricate right-wing content on Facebook to amass clicks, manipulate users, and in the process, make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in advertising revenue. In one text, he claimed to run a “multi-million business.”
In addition to Lowery, three sources corroborated the documents and their experience with Kolfage, but were afraid to go on the record, citing his past behavior of lashing out and threatening legal action against those who have spoken against him.
Kolfage reportedly ordered his content team to use manipulated images on Facebook to make it look like former President Barack Obama was having an affair or Hillary Clinton was being arrested, captioned “BREAKING!! OBAMA BUSTED!!! VIDEO LEAKED!!” and “BREAKING!!! TRUMP’S DOJ JUST DID IT!!! It’s FINALLY Happening!” He paid employees based on the number of clicks they got, the report said, and dismissed their complaints that the content was fake.
“He was very smart in how he would do it. He never wanted the truth,” one employee told BuzzFeed News. “It was all just for clicks, and the more inflammatory, the better. I felt dirty writing the stuff.”
Fittingly, Kolfage’s latest GoFundMe project is just as dubious. There is no legal way to give that money to Trump to build a wall, and the goal of $1 billion is far short of the $6 billion Trump is asking for from Congress, let alone the $25 billion that experts say he would actually need.
But hardcore Trump supporters are falling for it all over again.