The veteran who set up the GoFundMe fundraiser for President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE's border wall allegedly pocketed money meant for wounded veterans in the past, according to a new BuzzFeed News investigation.
Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee and Purple Heart recipient, reportedly previously spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign that raised thousands of dollars for an effort to mentor veterans at military hospitals.
Kolfage's fundraising effort for Trump's proposed border wall has so far received more than $20 million of a $1 billion goal from 334,860 donations.
Representatives at the military hospitals told BuzzFeed News that they did not have a record of Kolfage donating the money or working at their facilities.
GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Kolfage in 2015 launched a GoFundMe that raised $16,246 under the premise that the money would go to a veteran mentorship program. Whitorne said the money went directly to Kolfage.
Kolfage in Facebook posts that have been deleted said that he was working with Walter Reed, Brooke Army Medical Center and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Representatives for the centers told BuzzFeed News that they don't have record of Kolfage working with veterans at their facilities.
“We do not have a record of Mr. Kolfage visiting Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in any official capacity after 2012,” Gia Oney, chief of public affairs at Landstuhl, told the online outlet. “We have no record of a donation made in his name to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.”
Kolfage additionally has a documented history of running websites that promoted right-wing conspiracy theories and racist content online, media reports have uncovered.
Lindsay Lowery, an employee at one of Kolfage's largest conservative news websites in 2017, told BuzzFeed News that she feels he is mostly concerned with enriching himself and increasing his profile.
“After I started challenging some of his business decisions that I felt were reckless for the company and for my career, the real Brian emerged,” Lowery told the outlet. “Everything is only about his ‘war hero’ persona and money. If there’s a perceived slight on his part, he viciously attacks people ... and, in my case, tries to destroy their life and livelihood.”
BuzzFeed News reviewed text messages and emails between Kolfage and former employees that show he pushed writers to sensationalize stories.
During one exchange, Lowery pushed back on Kolfage's demand that she "get creative" when choosing an image for an article that claimed former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE "committed treason."
“So get creative like using fake photoshopped images?” she responded, BuzzFeed News reported. “I was kind of taken back at this...”
“Yup it’s just a graphic. Best story of [the] day,” Kolfage said, according to the outlet.
“It’s fake,” she said. "I don't see how this [is] making us a legit website."
“That’s not for u to worry about,” he replied.
Many of the Facebook pages for Kolfage's conservative ventures were removed from the platform in October of last year as part of a sweep to remove fake news.
Kolfage declined to comment for the BuzzFeed News report.