FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP/CBS4) — A Florida man says people who contributed more than $20 million online to help build a wall along the southern U.S. border can get refunds or shift their support to a new nonprofit effort. Air Force veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage, 37, says on the GoFundMe page he started in December to raise money for President Donald Trump’s wall that the nonprofit endeavor will be more successful. The message tells donors they can get a refund if they do nothing or they can redirect their donation to the nonprofit.
“There is a lot of work ahead of us, but this has never deterred me in the past. With the help of our highly experienced team, and your support, we will make this work!” Kolfage wrote. “I will personally not take a penny of compensation from these donations.”
So far, about 339,000 people have contributed. The new nonprofit is called We Build The Wall Inc. and Kolfage says he hopes to raise $1 billion.
Under his plan, segments of the wall would be privately constructed through negotiations with landowners along the border. Kolfage says his group is identifying areas that are frequently crossed; looking into wall solutions based on terrain, environment and other issues; and asking landowners if they would provide free or low-cost easements for its construction.
“We are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border,” he wrote. “Our team strongly believes that we can complete our segments of the wall for less than half of the government’s estimated costs on a per mile basis.”
A “We Build the Wall” web page announces a 14-person advisory team, led by Kolfage and includes former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo.
“Mr. Tancredo has been referred to as Congress’ most vociferous critic of current immigration policy,” reads Tancredo’s bio on the page.
It’s not clear how this private effort would interact with any federal plans sought by Trump to build a wall with government funds in many of the same areas. Democrats in Congress have refused to support the $5.6 billion Trump seeks for the project, leading to the ongoing partial government shutdown — now the longest in U.S. history.
According to his website , Kolfage was severely wounded in a 2004 rocket attack at an Iraq air base, losing both legs and one arm. He and his family live in the resort community of Sandestin, in Florida’s Panhandle. Kolfage did not respond Saturday to an email seeking further comment.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)