Marco Rubio is promoting a fundraising campaign to build Trump's wall created by a man banned from Facebook for operating a scam.
A serial fake news creator launched a GoFundMe campaign to solicit funds from Trump supporters to build the wall Mexico was supposed to pay for — and Sen. Marco Rubio thinks it's a great idea.
Brian Kolfage created the "We The People Will Fund The Wall" page, with the stated goal of raising $1 billion.
"If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall," Kolfage promises. So far, he has raised $11.6 million. He's also soliciting checks on a separate website to be sent directly to him.
On Friday, Rubio used his platform as a sitting senator — he has 3.6 million followers on Twitter — to promote the dubious crusade. He hailed Kolfage as a "true American hero" and praised him for taking "the initiative on the border wall." In Rubio's view, Kolfage "shames those who for political reasons irrationally oppose making America safer."
But in promoting Kolfage, Rubio is exposing millions to a campaign put together by an individual with a troubled past.
An Iraq War veteran, Kolfage ran a Facebook page called Right Wing News as part of what NBC News called "a ring of affiliate sites that frequently trafficked in conspiracy theories."
Right Wing News was pulled down by Facebook in a part of a crackdown on fake news. Kolfage's page was one of many described by Facebook as "using fake accounts … to drive traffic to their websites" or "were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate."
After Facebook pulled his page, Kolfage created a group called Fight4FreeSpeech and began soliciting online donations for it.
Kolfage doesn't mention any of his questionable past in his GoFundMe solicitation to "fund the wall." Instead, he promises donors that their money will go "to the right place" because he has "contacted the Trump Administration to secure a point of contact where all the funds will go upon completion" and claims to have "very high level contacts already helping."
He also assures his donors that "this is not a scam" and offers, as proof, the fact that he is using his real name and has appeared repeatedly on Fox.
And Fox has been boosting the bizarre campaign, giving him air time on both Fox News and Fox Business.
Now his operation is getting free advertising from his own senator. The amplification could lead to millions more being thrown into Kolfage's coffers, despite his troublesome past.
There's no reason to think that Kolfage's latest project is any more credible than his past ventures. And if the people who are sending him their money end up getting scammed, Rubio can take some credit for promoting the ill-conceived effort.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.