As soon as we saw last week that the online fundraising app GoFundMe was planning to literally steal contributions from donors attempting to help Canadian and American truckers with their protests of vaccine mandates we knew it Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry was going to jump into that situation soon. And he has.
Three Republican attorneys general pledged to investigate GoFundMe’s decision to take down a fundraiser for Canadian truckers protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the capital city of Ottawa.
GoFundMe canceled the fundraiser Friday evening, which had raised $10 million.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey all said they would look into the matter of the California-based company, citing potential deceptive practices affecting their state residents.
Morrisey began the trend, as he tweeted on Friday night, “#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!”
Donald Trump, Jr., echoed Morrisey’s statement…
All GOP Attorney Generals should be looking at this & helping to get people their $$$ back so it can be redirected to the truckers. Don’t let @gofundme scam you… call your AGs & let them know. GFM seems to have no problem finding BLM riots… peaceful truckers should be fine too. https://t.co/YYLpQDUYl1
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 5, 2022
It wasn’t just that GoFundMe was canceling the campaign. It was that they stated they would be redirecting contributions meant for the truckers to “other charities.”
Which is criminal behavior, plain and simple, and in a sane world GoFundMe’s executives would be arrested and stuffed into prison buses for trips to the nearest jail and arraigned on charges of grand larceny and wire fraud.
It didn’t take long for GoFundMe to realize the tiger they’d grabbed by the tail and to backtrack from their criminal decision…
The update we issued earlier enabled all donors to get a refund and outlined a plan to distribute remaining funds to verified charities selected by the Freedom Convoy organizers. However, due to donor feedback, we are simplifying the process and automatically refunding donations.
— GoFundMe (@gofundme) February 5, 2022
And then on Saturday Landry weighed in…
I share the concerns of @WestVirginiaAG. My office will be looking into whether or not #GoFundMe violated our state law. If you are a Louisiana donor to the #FreedomConvoy, please contact my #ConsumerProtection Section! #lagov https://t.co/lwCAvsbLrY
— AG Jeff Landry (@AGJeffLandry) February 5, 2022
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has also indicated her office would get involved. That came after Sunshine State Gov. Ron DeSantis unloaded on GoFundMe…
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.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 5, 2022
It’s a great political issue for a Republican officeholder, particularly one of the MAGA/revivalist stripe. The GoFundMe fiasco is a classic case of a woke Big Tech firm whose management thinks themselves above the law and who chooses to put their thumbs on the scale of social and political debate. The money supporters of the Freedom Convoy were sending through GoFundMe wasn’t buying rifles or grenades, it was to buy food and other necessities to keep a legal, nonviolent protest going.
If GoFundMe won’t allow the use of its platform for that, and if their first instinct is to convert funds intended to support that protest to causes GoFundMe likes better before adults in elected offices instructed them otherwise, then it’s pretty clear they’re enemies of the First Amendment.
One by one, we’re finding out that all of these Big Tech firms are exactly that. And it isn’t acceptable.
Landry has been railing against woke Big Tech firms for a while, and this might be one of the most egregious cases to support his arguments.
What would be a good idea would be somebody bringing a bill in the legislature which would say that if you’re a crowdfunding platform like GoFundMe and you want to do business in Louisiana, you have to allow campaigns for everything which isn’t illegal. That might not be all that powerful a piece of legislation, but if somebody also brings it in West Virginia and Florida, as well as Texas, Montana, Kansas, Idaho, Mississippi, South Carolina and other states with Republican legislatures, you’d effectively either force a sea change in GoFundMe’s selective canceling policies or you’d essentially clear space for another app to put them out of business.
Landry can certainly go after GoFundMe for deceptive business practices and make trouble for them. But the real win here comes when there is a specific law they’re violating when they cancel fundraising campaigns like the one for the truckers. Somebody at the Louisiana legislature needs to step up and give the AG’s office the tools to address an abuse like this.