GoFundMe is refunding donations as they typically do after shutting down a fundraiser — but this time, because the fundraiser is politically controversial, a handful of angry Republicans are jumping in to mislead their base and direct attacks at the company.
Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) are lashing out on Twitter, accusing GoFundMe of redistributing donations instead of refunding them, and suggesting that the company is in violation of law — despite GoFundMe’s clear statement that it is beginning the process to refund every penny.
The “Freedom Convoy,” a group of truckers and others who are protesting vaccine mandates, had a GoFundMe set up to cover the costs involved in driving a large number of 18-wheel trucks and other vehicles in a very visible and expensive protest. The crowdfunding company has issued a statement, saying that they believed the protest was initially intended to be peaceful, but now that it has passed into lawbreaking territory, it’s in violation of GoFundMe’s rules — funds cannot be raised for illegal activity.
“We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity.”
When this happens, GoFundMe shuts down the fundraiser and issues instructions for donors to get their money back. In this case, the company has gone even further, saying no one will have to fill out a request form to get a refund, but that they’ll be processed automatically.
The update we issued earlier enabled all donors to get a refund and outlined a plan to distribute remaining funds to verified charities selected by the Freedom Convoy organizers. However, due to donor feedback, we are simplifying the process and automatically refunding donations.
— GoFundMe (@gofundme) February 5, 2022
GoFundMe announced via tweet at around 3am eastern time that all refunds would be processed and should be received in 7-10 days — so why was Governor DeSantis trash-talking the company at 10am, hours later, for “commandeer[ing] $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing,” one might wonder?
It is a fraud for @gofundme to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing.
I will work with @AGAshleyMoody to investigate these deceptive practices — these donors should be given a refund.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 5, 2022
Gaetz, of course, chimed in too, suggesting that GoFundMe could be in violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act!
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 5, 2022
Again, this was many hours after GoFundMe explained that the refunds would be processed automatically — and the company never indicated it would redistribute funds to other causes.
People are calling the two out for misleading their followers about the company’s intentions.
Except for that pesky fact that what DeathSantis posted isn't true.
— KelShel pt2 (@ShelKel2) February 5, 2022
Yeah seems like a good use of taxpayer money to investigate something that literally isn’t happening. GoFundMe publicly announced this 8 hours before your tweet. pic.twitter.com/fkcSJvt4nl
— Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D (@RVAwonk) February 5, 2022
Another fake manufactured controversy. https://t.co/QuI354a3kN
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) February 5, 2022
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com