Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis announced Saturday morning that he will work with the state’s attorney general to investigate GoFundMe after the company shut down a fundraiser for the Canadian truckers participating in the Freedom Convoy.
“The fundraising effort had raised C$10 million—around $7.9 million—and C$1 million had already been distributed to the organizers of the so-called Freedom Convoy before GoFundMe took the decision to stop the fundraiser,” Newsweek reported. “GoFundMe initially announced on Friday it would refund contributions to anyone who applied and the remaining funds would be distributed to charities chosen by the Freedom Convoy organizers and verified by the crowdfunding site.”
GoFundMe later reversed course, citing “donor feedback.”
The left-wing company said in a statement:
To simplify the process for our users, we will be refunding all donations to the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser. This refund will happen automatically—you do not need to submit a request. Donors can expect to see refunds within 7-10 business days.
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.
DeSantis responded to the news with a tweet, writing: “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,” the governor added.
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
GoFundMe’s initial statement announcing that it was taking down the fundraiser stated:
GoFundMe supports peaceful protests and we believe that was the intention of the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser when it was first created.
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.
To ensure GoFundMe remains a trusted platform, we work with local authorities to ensure we have a detailed, factual understanding of events taking place on the ground. Following a review of relevant facts and multiple discussions with local law enforcement and city officials, this fundraiser is now in violation of our Terms of Service (Term 8, which prohibits the promotion of violence and harassment) and has been removed from the platform.
Organizers provided a clear distribution plan for the initial $1M that was released earlier this week and confirmed funds would be used only for participants who traveled to Ottawa to participate in a peaceful protest. Given how this situation has evolved, no further funds will be directly distributed to the Freedom Convoy organizers — we will work with organizers to send all remaining funds to credible and established charities verified by GoFundMe.
All donors may submit a request for a full refund until February 19th, 2022 using this dedicated refund form.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urged residents in his state to contact his office to let him know if they had “been victimized by a deceptive act or practice” by GoFundMe.
“#GoFundMe now won’t honor #FreedomConvoy donations and will instead redirect to other charities? In WV, organizations must not deceive donors and engage in deceptive advertising practices. If you’ve been victimized by a deceptive act or practice, let us know!” Morrisey wrote. “According to their website, #GoFundMe is not automatically refunding the donations. Individuals interested in a refund can submit the form below if they do so by Feb 19, 2022. This will avoid the ‘redirecting’ of the donation.”
According to their website, #GoFundMe is not automatically refunding the donations. Individuals interested in a refund can submit the form below if they do so by Feb 19, 2022. This will avoid the “redirecting” of the donation pic.twitter.com/1b4rljC5FV
— Patrick Morrisey (@MorriseyWV) February 5, 2022