An online fundraiser is trying to pay for President Donald Trump's border wall, but is the money guaranteed to fund construction?
Nope, the Department of Homeland Security cannot accept gifts without an appropriation from Congress.
Howell Jackson- Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, consulted U.S. Department of the Treasury
Bureau of the Fiscal Service- "Gifts to the U.S. Government"
White House spokesperson
6 U.S. Code § 453 - Use of appropriated funds
U.S. Government Accountability Office- Antideficientcy Act
Brian Kolfage, a purple heart veteran and triple amputee who claims on his website to be the "most severely wounded U.S. Airman," set up a GoFundMe page to bankroll the border wall.
Kolfage started the fundraiser amid a political battle between President Trump and Congress over whether funding for the border wall should be included in a spending bill.
The fundraiser's goal is set at $1 billion. The largest amount ever crowd-sourced through a GoFundMe page was $22.1 million for the TIME'S UP legal defense fund.
Nearly 200,000 people have already contributed more than $11 million to Kolfage's #GoFundTheWall campaign.
"This is America coming together," Kolfage said on FOX News. "They want the wall and they’re putting their money where their mouth is and they’re funding it.”
People on Twitter were a little more skeptical.
We answer the big questions about the #GoFundTheWall campaign:
Is the campaign legitimate?
We asked GoFundMe to determine whether the campaign is legitimate. A GoFundMe spokesperson told us "yes."
"The funds are safely held by our payment processor and we will work with the organizer to transfer funds to an appropriate recipient or refund all donors, as stated in the campaign story," said the spokesperson.
Would the money actually be used to fund Trump's border wall?
Likely not. On the #GoFundTheWall campaign page, Kolfage claims he contacted the "Trump Administration to secure a point of contact where all the funds will go."
We reached out to the White House, who directed all inquires regarding the campaign to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Under the Treasury's gift-giving policy, any money from the GoFundMe would funnel into a general money pot. Without an appropriation from Congress, you can't earmark money in the Treasury for the border wall.
Under U.S. law, Homeland Security would not be able to accept the money directly, without Congress.
"At that point, absent a gift fund authorization from Congress, the money would have to be handed over to the Treasury," Howell Jackson, a professor of Law at Harvard Law School who has also consulted the U.S. Treasury, said. "Were DHS officials to spend the funds, they would risk running afoul the Anti-Deficiency Act, which carries criminal penalties. As to how the funds would be spent once deposited with the treasury, that’s difficult to say because tracing is hard.
Last year GOP Congresswoman Diane Black introduced a bill to allow crowd-funding for the wall—but it carried with it all sorts of national security issues and never made it out of committee.
So we can Verify, no, it’s extremely unlikely the money will go towards building a border wall, without Congress’ okay.
Is $1 billion enough to cover the border wall?
There's no consensus on how much building a wall would cost. President Trump has repeatedly claimed it would cost no more than $25 billion. The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs pegged the price tag $70 billion.
Following Trump's demand that funding for the wall be included in a spending bill, the House voted on Thursday night to add $5 billion to cover border security.
Earlier this year, a Texas company was awarded a $145 million contract by Customs and Border Protection to construct a concrete levee wall in Hidalgo County, Texas. The project is expected to cover six miles, a fraction of the total U.S.-Mexico border.