Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republicans are promising to look into the practices of the crowdfunding website GoFundMe after its recent actions with donations to the Canadian trucker convoy.
On Friday the website seized donations that were given to the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” protesting COVID-19 regulations and initially said it would redistribute the donations to charities approved by the convoy organizers and the company, Fox News reported.
On Friday, the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe froze the convoy’s official campaign, claiming law enforcement convinced the company that the convoy had become violent and unlawful.
GoFundMe encouraged donors to submit a refund form, and said that any funds not properly returned to donors would be donated to a charity chosen by the Freedom Convoy.
Within hours, however, GoFundMe walked back the refund applications, instead announcing it would be refunding donors automatically.
This is not the first time that the company has stopped a campaign from causes that were considered “conservative” but it may be the last.
One of the first people to shred the company for its decision was Tesla CEO Elon Musk who accused the company of having two sets of rules.
“Double-standard?” he said on Twitter, with a screenshot of a June 2020 tweet GoFundMe made to support Seattle’s CHOP, (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest), where left wing protesters seized part of the city to create an “autonomous zone” where crimes were committed and police were prevented from entering.
He also called the company “professional thieves” in a meme he tweeted.
Now DeSantis and others want to investigate the company and its supposed rules.
“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,” he said on Twitter.
Jeff Landry, the general in Louisiana, also vowed to investigate the company.
“I share the concerns of @WestVirginiaAG. My office will be looking into whether or not #GoFundMe violated our state law. If you are a Louisiana donor to the #FreedomConvoy, please contact my #ConsumerProtection Section!” he said.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also took aim at the company and vowed to investigate.
“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!” he said.
GoFundMe also drew the ire of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who stated on social media that he would be launching a fraud investigation.
“Patriotic Texans donated to Canadian truckers’ worthy cause using GoFundMe. This BLM-backing company went woke, froze the funds, & failed to deliver Texans’ money,” Paxton said. “Today I assembled a team to investigate their potential fraud & deception. Texas donors will get Justice!”
The GoFundMe page to support the “Freedom Convoy” of Canadian truckers was approaching $10 million as of Monday evening, which is more money than the major federal political parties of Canada raised during the last quarter of 2021.
On Saturday GoFundMe explained that it changed its mind on what to do with the donations, but that did not include giving the funds to the people they were supposed to go to in the first place.
“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,” it said.
“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,” it said.