UPDATE: The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton (R), said Wednesday that the office will investigate GoFundMe after its decision to end a fundraising effort aimed at assisting the “Freedom Convoy” in Canada. Paxton said they will review possible breaches or violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Missouri’s AG Eric Schmitt is also probing the company, accusing GoFundMe of trying to silence the Freedom Convoy.
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The protest is broadening outside Ottawa as well. Protest convoys are gearing up elsewhere in Canada, in the US, Europe and New Zealand.
EARLIER The GoFundMe website has reversed course and decided to automatically refund donations to the truckers organization leading a protest against Canadian pandemic restrictions. But politicians vowed to investigate the website’s original plans for dealing with donations to the truckers.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Saturday morning that he and the state’s attorney general will investigate GoFundMe after it shut down a fundraiser for the Canadian truckers participating in the so-called “Freedom Convoy.”
West Virginia attorney general also joined in, asking his residents to contact his office to let him know if they had “been victimized by a deceptive act or practice” by GoFundMe.
GoFundMe originally shut down donations because of what it called “law enforcement reports of violence and other unlawful activity. At first, GoFundMe said it would refund anyone who asked and donate the remainder to charities chosen by the Freedom Convoy organizers and verified by the site.
However, the website later scrapped that plan, saying “donor feedback” led it to simplify things and automatically refund all donations.
The fundraiser had hit the C$10 million—around $7.9 million in US dollars – with C$1 million already distributed before the fundraiser was halted.
GoFundMe’s original plan didn’t sit well with DeSantis. He tweeted, “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 said.
GoFundMe had issued a statement on why it was taking down the fundraiser.
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 said his state’s law prohibited GoFundMe’s plan to redirect money.
“#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.”
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