The campaign, which was started in December by Iraq veteran and right-wing activist Brian Kolfage, was meant to be an end-run around the congressional stalemate over the wall and let Trump supporters pay for it directly, and as of Friday has raised almost $20.2 million (about 2 percent of the $1 billion goal, and 0.08 percent of the amount experts say it would actually require to build the wall).
Business Insider reports that when the campaign was started, founder Brian Kolfage promised all donations would be used to pay for a border wall between the US and Mexico once the $1 billion goal was reached.
"Our team strongly believes that we can complete our segments of the wall for less than half of the government's estimated costs on a per mile basis", Kolfage said.
Kolfage has recruited a veritable who's who of right-wing characters to sit on the board of directors for We Fund The Wall. There is a GoFundMe campaign owned by Kolfage under the same name with the update, "We have moved our campaign to a new website", with a link to an outside site. Trump has repeatedly said he will not sign any legislation to reopen the government unless it includes $5.7 billion for construction of a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border, and Democrats have refused to comply with that request.
Donors will have to proactively opt to give the money to Kolfage; if they do nothing the money will automatically be returned, according to Whithorne.
In a statement on January 11, Kolfage explained the choice to create a 501 (c)(4).
He also said he's grateful for Trump's commitment to border security.
He added in a Business Wire interview: "Rather than subsidizing the federal government, which has betrayed the American people by obstructing President Donald Trump's agenda, "We Build the Wall" is taking the President's signature campaign promise into our own hands. I personally will not take a penny of compensation from these donations incurred in the furtherance of this mission".
Kolfage explained the need for a private firm to build the wall.
While there are a range of estimates to fully build a border wall along the southern border, many estimates exceed $20 billion. Kolfage blamed Washington gridlock in part, saying that "the federal government won't be able to accept our donations anytime soon".