The man raising money to build Trump's wall also ran conspiracy pages that got kicked off Facebook
When Donald Trump was running for president, he promised voters to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, and make Mexico pay for it. However, Mexico had no interest in paying for a wall, which is estimated to cost anywhere from $21.6 billion to $70 billion, plus require money each year for maintenance. Afterward, Trump pivoted, and tried to persuade Congress to pay for the wall, arguing, without evidence, that it would pay for itself "in two months."
For the first two years of Trump's presidency, Congress wasn't keen on paying for a wall. Critics argue that the U.S-Mexico border is already well-defended; it's impossible to quantify the impact on crime rates from illegal immigration; there is little to no evidence illegal immigrants are taking people's jobs; and the wall could be easily circumnavigated by ladders, tunnels or immigrants overextending their visas. Therefore, the enormous cost would not seem to be worth it.
Yesterday the House of Representatives passed a spending bill that includes $5.1 billion for wall funding, causing the MAGA hat crowd to rejoice. However, that bill is likely to die in the Senate as it requires 60 votes to pass. The Senate is currently comprised of 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats; the Democrats are staunchly against the wall, and many Republicans have misgivings. (Previously, a bipartisan spending bill passed the Senate and the House, but Trump refused to sign it.)
If Congress and the president can't agree on a spending bill by midnight tonight, the government will partially shut down. That means 420,000 federal employees considered "essential" will continue to work, and be paid retroactively when the shutdown is over. Meanwhile, more than than 380,000 federal employees face furloughs - unpaid time off - just in time for Christmas. During a meeting with Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, President Trump stated, "I would be proud to shut down the government for border security."
With Trump's plan for a beautiful wall appearing to hit a beautiful wall, Trump supporters are now funding the project themselves. Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee Air Force veteran, started a crowdfunding campaign to construct the 2,000-mile wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. As of this writing, his GoFundMe page has raised $13 million of a $1 billion goal in four days. (The wall would actually cost much more, but $1 billion is the maximum amount you can raise on the website.)
On his GoFundMe page, Kolfage implores donors to trust him, insisting that his campaign is not a scam. But while he links to his public Facebook page, he does not mention his history with the social media platform.
Recently Facebook deleted 559 pages for "Inauthentic Activity," which means they "mislead others about who they are, and what they are doing" and were "using fake accounts to drive traffic to their websites." Kolfage told NBC that he ran multiple pages that were pulled down: Right Wing News, and its affiliates VeteranAF and FreedomDaily, which promoted false conspiracy theories before the 2016 election. This included the claim that Hillary Clinton was secretly suffering from deadly illnesses, as well as numerous fake news stories about voter fraud.
After his pages were expunged, Kolfage created the group Fight4FreeSpeech to raise money to keep the pages alive. He told NBC he did not mention his past on GoFundMe because he "didn't want it to be a distraction" from the border wall project. "I don't wanna mix the two. That shouldn't be the focus. My personal issues have nothing to do with building the wall," he said.