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Politics

Nikki Fried Investigating Florida Vet's Hot-Button Charity, 'We Build the Wall'

June 3, 2019 - 7:15am
Florida vet Brian Kolfage in New Mexico, near the Mexican border
Florida vet Brian Kolfage in New Mexico, near the Mexican border

If congressional Democrats won't pay for Donald Trump's border wall, Iraq war veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage reasoned that maybe the American people would pony up the money themselves. 

In December 2018 Kolfage, of Miramar, formed a non-profit group called We Build The Wall. He launched a GoFundMe page under his group’s banner to raise funds for the construction. We Build the Wall went viral virtually overnight. In less than six months the crowdsourcing effort impressively raised more than $23 million.

But problems have arisen -- among them, an investigation of the charity by the state of Florida, where the charity was registered. 

The original stated goal was for the money to be granted to the federal government to be used towards wall construction, bypassing the allocation blockade in D.C. But when the Treasury Department notified Kolfage that any funds he handed over would funnel directly into "general use," he decided to undertake the project with a committee that includes Trump ally Steve Bannon; the wall construction would become an entirely private enterprise.

Brian Kolfage
Brian Kolfage
As of now Kolfage, 37, a retired Air Force purple heart recipient, is facing a pair of governmental challenges: one in New Mexico, and another here in the state of Florida. Last week construction began in Sunland Park, N.M. over the Memorial Day weekend. The project was halted by local officials on the following Tuesday, when the mayor issued a cease and desist order. There's a he-said-they-said disagreement over the permitting of the construction. 

City officials have stated that the permits had not been issued, and approval of the project never took place. At the same time, one of the board members of WBTW, who was on the project site, disputes the claim. It was stated that the owner of the private property, American Eagle Brick, obtained the proper permits and had inspectors on site when construction began. The city claims the application for permits was filed but never granted, and that inspectors were prevented from coming onto the property.

On May 28, back in Miramar Beach, Kolfage angrily tweeted, "They were on site on Friday and gave us green light to build!"

There is no small irony that a wall being built to prevent illegal entry into the country may itself be undocumented.

The wall, which so far spans just under one mile in length, went up on private property running next to El Paso, Tex., through Sunland Park, N.M., Kolfage said last week.

"It’s just under one mile long," he said. "The wall starts at the Rio Grande River and goes up Mount Cristo Rey where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it was impossible to build." 

Kolfage said once everything is said and done, his organization will sell the mile-long wall, which cost between $6 million and $8 million to build, to the federal government for the bargain price of $1.

"We're going to sell this wall to them for $1 and release the title to them," he said. "We can't give the government the money because that's not the way it works. But we wanted to show the American people how to get this job done."

Kolfage told DailyMail.com that this build has been approved by Trump and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Not true, said a DHS official: "This project is not connected to DHS efforts." 

Meanwhile in Florida, Kolfage’s group is looking at another challenge entirely. Kolfage is based out of Miramar and WBTW was incorporated in Panama City. This means the charity falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. That department -- overseen by that rarity in Tallahassee elected-officialdom, a Democrat (Nikki Fried) -- officially launched an investigation into the charity on Thursday, May 29.

The reason for granting an investigation, explained a spokesman for Fried's office, is that Florida has been delivered a number of consumer complaints about the charity. They also added that Attorney General Ashley Moody's office has also been fielding complaints about WBTW. 

Are these complaints just a concerted power play by liberals against the hated wall? Or is there truly something amiss with this Trump-favored charity and the Florida veteran some have accused of peddling right-wing misinformation on Facebook? 

On the other hand, the likelihood of a project this large attempting to construct miles of border wall barriers without getting the proper paperwork and permits seems remote. Even while on private land, it is not realistic to consider the charity would expect to erect much of a barrier without creating a lot of attention. Given the location -- it's just miles from downtown El Paso, and the University of Texas at El Paso -- there is little chance of construction crews going undetected. There is also little chance of slipping past the purview of the U.S. Border Patrol, a major presence in the El Paso sector.

It remains to be seen if the construction will be able to move forward while contending with two differing challenges. Even while a board member declares, “We are on strong legal footing,” it's obvious serious challenges to a hotly debated project will be an ongoing concern.

Fried and Moody hadn't returned from Israel until this weekend and were unavailable to discuss the investigation by presstime.

Border wall under construction
Border wall under construction

Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the  industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist. 

Comments

$23 million will build 3 to 4 miles of wall per Kolfage. Much ado about nothing.

If it makes the corrupt democrats mad, then it's good.

Really, people?! Google is now the purveyor of all truth? Makes me want to vomit.

The title of this article is factually incorrect according to all of my sources and public records. The investigation began in the Attorney General's office and I have those records. Commissioner Fried was in Israel when all of this happened below the level of her office. You should file a correction.

Commissioner of "AGRICULTURE" investigating a wall being built in another state. Do your job and stay the hell away from our wall you left-wing nut-bag!

No, they aren't investigating a "wall built in another state". They're investigating the actual non-profit, incorporated in FL.

It's great that the DNC is putting such an effort into their propaganda campaign only to see photographic evidence of the wall that will help keep out some of their future voters.

Duh, MAGA! Idiots, he's living the highlife on your dime dummies. Too funny, vote for Trump again dumbasses...

Dotie, Dotie, Dotie, you're a typical Democrat. Make up a lie and spew it as the truth.

Kolfage runs a coffee shop but lives in an approx. million dollar per house neighborhood. Kolfage’s charity reported a salary budget of $690,000, a “fringe benefits” budget of $78,864, alongside a $500,000 budget to acquire land or easements (perpetual use rights) with $1 million set aside in the first year just for legal services.

The ONLY idiot is in your mirror

Why are you looking in his mirror? Don't you have your own?

ANY Democrats blocking this effort should be carried, kicking & screaming, to the southern side of the wall and compelled to live in Mexico as traitorous American morons.... ("Get it Nikk-ita Fried ")

sure, right when you head back home to NY fatty and get a job tiny...

Following review of the previous Comments I did in fact Google Brian Kolfage. The results? 13 Articles which imply or flat out state that the young man in question is a "Scammer" taking personal Financial advantage of individual doner's contribution. May the Secretary of Agriculture along with the State Attorney General open a full investigation of this "non-Profit" run by the young man in question.

Funny how GOOGLE is nothing but left wing biased results. You're just too stupid to understand that

Fart!

Another democrat speaks.

People defending Brian need to google him. Here's just some of what you will find: $16,000 he collected for wounded vets, then pocketed. Terrorizing several women. One was an elderly cancer patient he thought ran a rival FB page. He posted her personal info and told his supporters to "attack" and they did- her life was ruined. A $75,000 GoFundme to "sue mark Zuckerberg". NOTHING happened and he (again) pocketed the money. Smaller scams also- like TWO (both for service men) that needed surgery. Only one got the money brian collected for him- and only because someone else exposed him. If you don't want to believe brian is a scammer- take a look at him and his wifes instagram pages. How does someone who's ONLY income is VA disability and being a coffee affiliate for Amazon afford a $700,000 boat, 2 Range rovers, a Bentley, EIGHT luxury trips, a pimped out golf cart, designer handbags & clothes for his wife, private plane trips everywhere (his kids have never flown commercial) and more.

Yea, that Brian is a total scam artist,,,,,,,, he had the doctors cut off both legs and an arm just so he could fake everyone into believing he was patriotic and send him a couple bucks. Your the same jack that is sitting there watching democrat politicians live like kings while driven around by Chinese spies and you have nothing to say, not a darn thing!

Thank you for at least peppering these idiotic comments with some reality. I thought he ran a coffee shop but he’s just an Amazon coffee bean selling affiliate!? That makes his excessive display of wealth only that much more unbelievable. I’m sure the Fund is funneling money to friendly attorneys and contractors who kick back money to him. Kolfage’s charity reported a salary budget of $690,000, a “fringe benefits” budget of $78,864, alongside a $500,000 budget to acquire land or easements (perpetual use rights) with $1 million set aside in the first year just for legal services.

Salary budget would be separate of the funds paid to contractors for labor and material. So $690k salary budget seems very suspicious. He said the non-profit has 3 board members but likely is only him from actual incorporation filings in Florida. He’s probably paying a figurehead a generous salary and a couple fluffers for admin work or web site/media work and those people or firms are likely related to him some how. Scam indeed!!!

Ask Bernie Sanders. He knows!

Here is a May 30, 2019 article from the Washington Times, which informs us that wall construction IS proceeding: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/may/30/sunland-park-new-mexico-allows-we-build-wall-resum/

Could be! The American people ponied up to originally install the Statue of Liberty - and then, again, to restore it in a bi-centennial effort. If individuals or corporations and institutions choose to donate to pay for sections of Trump's Wall - let 'em!

Yes! These complaints are just a concerted power play by liberals against the hated wall. When Brian Kolfage, a Miramar-based Purple Heart recipient and triple amputee veteran, raised money through “WeBuildTheWall” was told he could not gift the money to Congress, he polled his donors (me included) asking permission to redirect the mission and funds and create a private board. He gave us names of the board members and an opportunity to vote. Refunds were available to those who voted no. Brian has been upfront with all his givers. Let’s see how long our democrat Commissioner of Agriculture takes to investigate this nonprofit. Democrats are good at closing down conservative nonprofits!

The biggest threat this nation has ever dealt with is the DNC.

You do realize that 3-4 months after news outlets were calling Kolfage a fraud, he suddenly and insantly started building "something". My hunch is that the contract to build this wall is immensely overpriced purposely, the money is being funneled around illegally for "other purposes or administration" or maybe he's just keeping some money in other accounts. There has been no transparency and he's had a history of scams or attempted scams. Guess what, Florida should investigate immediately just to make sure this scammer hasn't usurped even 1 million.

That is BULL. I am a donor. The only emails we got were "donate more" and "buy my coffee". Why is this con-man advertising his coffee using his email list of wall people? Google him- look at his past scams. Look at how he lives. Did he win the lottery? Right after he started the GoFundMe scams is when the cars were bought, the private plane trips began, the vacations to 5 star resorts, and his new pool was put in. WAKE UP

Exactly this! A scam can still deliver som results. Just makes it that much more believable to keep the scam going or branch out from it. Make it have a long life instead of burning it right out of the gate. Take a quick few million and go to jail or skim off contracts with buddies and greatly supplement your income longer term and possibly not get caught.

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