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Online campaign for border wall raises concerns

While an Air Force veteran’s online campaign to fund President Donald Trump’s border wall topped $14 million in pledges early Saturday, concerns were raised about whether the federal government would be able to accept the money, the New York Post reported.

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If the money cannot be accepted, people who pledged the cash may have to be issued refunds, the newspaper reported.

>> Air Force veteran starts GoFundMe page to help fund border wall

Florida resident Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee and Purple Heart recipient who was severely injured during his deployment in Iraq in 2004, started a GoFundMe page Dec. 16 called “We The People Will Fund The Wall” and set a goal of $1 billion. More than 229,000 people have already pledged money to the cause.

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According to his website, Kolfage lost three of his limbs during Operation Iraqi Freedom during a rocket attack at Balad Air Force Base on Sept. 11, 2004. Kolfage is a fervent supporter of Trump’s border wall.

“Americans are putting their money where their mouth is,” the campaign’s founder, Kolfage told The New York Times on Friday. “They’re willing to put money down to show politicians this is what they want.”

While Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, complimented Kolfage’s effort, he tempered his enthusiasm with concerns about allowing the private sector to raise money for government spending, the Post reported.

“I think it’s admirable, and I think that the country should respond,” Goodlatte told the newspaper. “Obviously, we can’t let citizens raise money and say, ‘The government will spend my money on this purpose.’ ”

According to the Treasury Department, general donations to the federal government are sent to a “Gifts to the United States” general use fund for budget needs, the Post reported. set aside for “general use” by the federal government or “budget needs.” Most federal agencies cannot use this money without congressional approval, the newspaper reported. Some agencies are allowed to accept gifts for earmarked purposes, but it was not clear whether the Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of border security, is one of them, the Post reported.

GoFundMe’s terms of service prohibit “not using funds for their stated purpose,” the newspaper reported. That means Kolfage and GoFundMe may have to reimburse donors if the Department of Homeland Security is unable to accept the cash.

A competing fundraiser to buy “ladders to get over Trump’s wall” was created Thursday in response Kolfage’s campaign and had raised more than $115,000 by early Saturday.

>> Online campaign counters border wall fundraiser

Despite the tongue-in-cheek opposition, Kolfage remains determined.

“It’s time to stop playing games with voters,” Kolfage told The Washington Post in an email. “If we are told we’re getting something, make it happen.”

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