Governor Ron DeSantis, who has maintained his status as one of the strongest proponents of the rejection of COVID-19 shutdowns, threatened to investigate the fundraising platform GoFundMe after the company terminated a $10 million fundraiser for the ongoing cross-border trucker protest against vaccine mandates.
DeSantis said he would work in conjunction with Attorney General Ashley Moody to investigate deceptive practices undertaken by GoFundMe following its announcement that it would send remaining funds donated to the ‘Freedom Convey’ to charities selected by organizers.
“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 chosen by the Freedom Convoy 2022 organizers and verified by GoFundMe,” the platform said.
The protests centered in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa are entering their second week of activity, as hundreds of truckers occupy the streets of the city’s downtown neighborhood in protest of mandated vaccines for cross-border travel. Protests have been marked by the blaring of truck horns and congestion of traffic.
American politicians, including DeSantis, have championed the trucker movement as a form of resistance in the name of personal freedoms.
“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 [AG Moody] to investigate these deceptive practices — these donors should be given a refund,” said the governor. “These donors should be given a refund.”
Concurrent to DeSantis’ announced intent of investigation, GoFundMe backtracked and stated that it would revise its plan on the handling of funds, and donors could expect to see refunds in the coming days.
“This refund will happen automatically — you do not need to submit a request. Donors can expect to see refunds within 7-10 business days,” GoFundMe said in a tweet.
However, DeSantis has given no indication that he plans to retract his statement and appears to be ready to launch a formal investigation. GoFundMe, located in Redwood, California, would be held to U.S. business practices and could be susceptible to a case of business fraud under the claim that donors were misled as to where their money was going.
“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,” GoFundMe announced. There have been little to no reports of documented violence at the protest.”
In 2020, GoFundMe promoted a fundraiser that went toward an individual involved in the Seattle Capitol Hill Occupation Zone (CHOP) protest that showed similarities to the Ottawa trucker protest. The fundraiser ultimately drew in tens of thousands of dollars.
In a community with no police, this farmer is feeding people & bringing them closer together.
— GoFundMe (@gofundme) July 2, 2020