GoFundMe: Federal workers have launched more than 1,500 crowdfunding campaigns during shutdown

GoFundMe: Federal workers have launched more than 1,500 crowdfunding campaigns during shutdown

Federal workers who say they are struggling due to the partial government shutdown have launched more than 1,500 crowdfunding campaigns since the shutdown began, a GoFundMe spokeswoman told CNN on Thursday. 

GoFundMe spokeswoman Katherine Cichy told CNN that the crowdfunding campaigns have altogether raised more than $300,000 so far.
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Most have launched since early January, when workers affected by the shutdown began to miss paychecks, according to the news network. 

A number of federal employees have set up campaigns in attempts to make ends meet as they seek to pay for rent, medical bills or even food

The shutdown, which started on Dec. 22, is now well into its fourth week and is the longest shutdown in U.S. history. It has strained hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay.

Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubReport: Elaine Chao still owns shares in stock she promised to divest Defense Dept paid Trump properties 0,000 since start of presidency: report Ex-White House ethics chief compares Ivanka, Kushner security clearances to college admissions scandal MORE, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, told CNN that the GoFundMe pages could be murky legally. Federal law stipulates that government employees should not supplement their salaries with outside income, according to CNN.

"The primary law in question is a criminal law that prohibits payments in exchange for an employee's federal service," Shaub said. 

The Office of Government Ethics could decide that the donations do not count under the law if it determines that people are donating money to the employees out of concern rather than because they work for the government.

"It is entirely possible that the government would decide this conduct violates that law, so I personally would never have done something like this while I was in government," Shaub said. "The potential penalties are quite severe." 

Shaub said the situation is complicated further by the fact that the Office of Government Ethics is currently shuttered due to the shutdown.

"The Office of Government Ethics could issue an opinion clarifying the government's views on this, but that office is closed during the shutdown," Shaub said.