Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Air Force vet who raised $22 million for a border wall claims a 'major network' will show his finances are legit
The wounded Iraq veteran who raised $22 million to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border insists that his donors' money is being used for its intended purpose, but declined to offer evidence to Task & Purpose since a "major network" is apparently about to do a big exclusive that would put to rest any concerns over the group's finances.
Brian Kolfage, who lost both legs and his right arm while serving with Air Force security forces in Iraq in 2004, said he couldn't provide Task & Purpose with receipts showing how the money he raised was being spent, he claimed, since he had already provided financial records to another media outlet for an exclusive story.
He declined to name which network he was working with. Dustin Stockton, vice president of strategy and marketing for Kolfage's nonprofit We Build The Wall Inc., later told Task & Purpose he could not say when the network story would run.
"We have a very strict deal," said Kolfage, "Instead of jumping the gun like everyone else, I urge you to remain patient otherwise it will be you who looks absolutely ridiculous with fake news. The network we gave exclusive to has way too big of a reach so we are not going to budge on anything."
"Sorry man, it's all a big exclusive on a major network," Kolfage said in a follow-up via Twitter. "Not releasing anything. We have posted enough on social media."
In December 2018, Kolfage began a GoFundMe campaign to raise $1 billion to be donated to the federal government to build the border wall, but after he announced in February that donations would actually go to a non-profit organization that would build the wall itself, GoFundMe offered refunds to his contributors.
Kolfage, who previously ran a number of websites that touted fake news and conspiracy content, quickly urged his donors to redirect their contributions to his new organization We Build The Wall Inc., and most of those who had given money complied.
Of the money raised, $14 million was sent to the new organization and $6 million was refunded, said GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne.
Although the GoFundMe campaign was discontinued, Kolfage was able to raise an additional $6 million "offline" through cash donations and checks, none of which can be refunded, Whithorne said.
We Build The Wall Inc. applied with the Internal Revenue Service for status as a 501(c)(4) non-profit group on Jan. 8, according to a receipt from the IRS the group provided to Task & Purpose.
The Daily Beast recently reported that some donors want to know what Kolfage is doing with their money, especially since construction on the border wall was supposed to begin in April. "We break ground on our first section this month," Kolfage told One News Now in early April.
Twitter users have also suggested that Kolfage could have used the donations to buy a boat, of which he has posted pictures on Instagram. The fact-checking website Snopes said it had "found no evidence" Kolfage had used wall money for the yacht or other personal items.
Stockton told Task & Purpose that the Air Force veteran purchased his boat before the GoFundMe campaign was launched and the bylaws for We Build The Wall Inc. say, "Mr. Kolfage will take no salary for the performance of his duties as President of the Corporation."
The group also never established a firm deadline for when construction on the wall would begin, according to Stockton.
"There were several points along the way where we said that May and June were our target," Stockton said. "We got a little overconfident on one deal we were working, thinking we would be able to break ground in April. Like with any multi-million construction project, sometimes you hit obstacles that delay you for a little bit."
The wall project "hit some snags regarding liability and surveying" that slowed things down by a couple of weeks, said Stockton, who declined to say whether Kolfage's group has obtained the property easements needed to build the wall.
Kolfage has shared video on his Facebook page that purportedly shows steel bollards being cut for the wall and images of failed Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach allegedly using construction equipment to inspect steel that will be used for the border wall.
The group is looking for smuggling routes along the southwestern border where the wall should be built, according to We Build The Wall's website.
"We are presently working with US Customs and Border Patrol experts and other US Border Security Service professionals who are highly experienced in these matters," the website says.
When asked who these experts are, Stockton gave only one name: Brandon Darby, a conservative activist who used to run Breitbart Texas.
Kolfage's organization understands that it needs to demonstrate to donors soon that it is using their money to begin build the border wall, Stockton said.
"Nothing we say is going to make a bit of difference until we show the actual construction," Stockton said. "We know that with the donors; we know that with the media; ultimately, we've all put our reputations on the line to deliver actual completed segments of wall on the border, and that's what we have to do before we put any of these doubts to rest."
WATCH NEXT: US-Mexico Border Wall Time-Lapse
Former Marine Commandant tells Trump that pardoning troops accused of war crimes 'relinquishes the moral high ground'
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Associated Materials. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Associated Materials Incorporated is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.
Associated Materials, a residential and commercial siding and window manufacturer based in Ohio, employs people from a variety of backgrounds. The company gives them an opportunity to work hard and grow within the organization. For Tim Betsinger, Elizabeth Dennis, and Tanika Carroll, all military veterans with wide-ranging experience, Associated Materials has provided a work environment similar to the military and a company culture that feels more like family than work.
President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."