The Texas Attorney General is launching an investigation into GoFundMe’s decision to remove the fundraiser for the “Freedom Convoy,” which has been protesting against the federal vaccine mandate for the past two weeks.
Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement on Wednesday saying that he would probe the crowdfunding platform’s potential violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). He added that GoFundMe’s “integrity has come into question” after removing the multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign.
“GoFundMe’s response to an anti-mandate, pro-liberty movement should ring alarm bells to anyone using the donation platform and, more broadly, any American wanting to protect their constitutional rights,” said Paxton.
Today, I’m announcing an investigation into GoFundMe’s actions ⬇️
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) February 9, 2022
On February 4, GoFundMe made the decision to stop distributing funds to the “Freedom Convoy” organizers after obtaining evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration turned into an occupation with police reports of violence and unlawful activity.
“Following a review of relevant facts and multiple discussions with local law enforcement and city officials, this fundraiser is now in violation of our Terms of Service (Term 8, which prohibits the promotion of violence and harassment) and has been removed from the platform,” said GoFundMe in a statement.
The platform had suspended the fundraiser a day before. In an update on February 5, GoFundMe stated that it would automatically refund all contributions directly to donors within seven to 10 business days.
To simplify the process for our users, we will be refunding all donations to the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser. This refund will happen automatically—you do not need to submit a request. Donors can expect to see refunds within 7-10 business days.
— GoFundMe (@gofundme) February 5, 2022
According to the Paxton, many Texans had donated to the fundraiser.
“I am acting to protect Texas consumers so that they know where their hard-earned money is going, rather than allowing GoFundMe to divert money to another cause without the consent of Texas citizens,” he said.
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The anti-vaccine mandate protests have been occupying cities across the country. In a TikTok posted on Tuesday night, co-organizer Chris Barber announced that they’re headed to Toronto.
Toronto police have prepped for the incoming convoy, implementing road closures at Queen’s Park Circle, from College Street to Bloor Street.