The Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services is investigating We Build the Wall, a privately funded group that has built a section of border wall in New Mexico, after the state attorney general's office received complaints about how the group raises and allocates donations, according to ABC News. The organization, which is registered in Florida, solicits check and credit card donations via its website and also has an ongoing GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $25 million of its $1 billion goal.
One complaint to the Florida AG is from Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Wendy Tien, who expressed concern as to whether or not the group filed Articles of Incorporation with the state of Florida as required or is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit. A search of Florida records found that the group is registered as a nonprofit with the Florida Secretary of State's office and that the group filed Articles of Incorporation in December 2018 and made a fictitious name filing in January 2019. The group has posted a copy of its IRS determination letter on its website.
Another issue Tien has is that Brian Kolfage, the group's president, allocated GoFundMe donations to We Build the Wall after learning that he might be required to return the donations since the campaign did not reach its $1 billion goal. Kolfage and his attorneys denied the allegations to ABC.
We Build the Wall announced after Memorial Day this year that it had substantially completed a half-mile to 1-mile section of border wall on private property in Sunland, New Mexico, during the course of the long holiday weekend. Contractor Fisher Sand and Gravel installed an 18-foot bollard-style fence for a reported cost of $6 million to $8 million using proprietary methods.
Although the wall section was built on private land, the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) determined that a gate installed with the wall blocked a government levee road and prevented USIBWC maintenance workers from accessing a nearby dam, so the commission broke the padlock and locked the gate into an open position. The two organizations later reached an agreement to lock the gate only at night.
The city of Sunland's mayor issued a cease and desist order against the wall project after We Build the Wall made its announcement because of permitting issues and because the project violated city fence-height limits. After the organization filed the correct paperwork, crews were allowed to finish the fence.
In a one-line statement on its website, We Build the Wall said it is underway with its second border wall project.