The national effort to fund President Donald Trump’s border wall via GoFundMe was spearheaded by a veteran who allegedly kept money from a previous fundraiser he claimed would go to wounded veterans, according to The Hill.
Brian Kilfage also ran right-wing websites that were booted from Facebook after the social media platform began cracking down on pages propagating fake news.
Kolfage, who received the Purple Heart and is a triple-amputee, reportedly started a crowdfunding campaign that raised thousands of dollars that he claimed would go to military hospitals for mentoring wounded veterans.
But according to a BuzzFeed News investigation, none of the military hospitals had records of Kolfage donating money or working at their facilities.
GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Kolfage in 2015 launched a GoFundMe that raised $16,246 under the premise that the money would go to a veteran mentorship program. Whitorne said the money went directly to Kolfage.
Kolfage in Facebook posts that have been deleted said that he was working with Walter Reed, Brooke Army Medical Center and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Representatives for the centers told BuzzFeed News that they don't have record of Kolfage working with veterans at their facilities.
So far, Kolfage’s effort to help fund Trump’s border wall has brought in more than $20 million of its $1 billion goal, The Hill said.
In addition to the alleged fundraising scam, Kolfage has also run right-wing websites trafficking in conspiracy theories and fake news.
Lindsay Lowery, an employee at one of Kolfage's largest conservative news websites in 2017, told BuzzFeed News that she feels he is mostly concerned with enriching himself and increasing his profile.
“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,” Lowery told the outlet. “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.”