GoFundMe deprived the Freedom Convoy of millions of dollars worth of donations, which has led American lawmakers — including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — to target GoFundMe and accuse it of theft.
Last week, the fundraising platform took down the Freedom Convoy’s donation page, saying that it violated the company’s terms of service, Reuters reported.
“We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity,” GoFundMe said in a statement.
GoFundMe said donors had until Feb. 19 to request a refund, then it would “work with organizers to send all remaining funds to credible and established charities verified by GoFundMe.”
The Freedom Convoy started as an organized effort for Canadian cross-border truckers to protest the country’s vaccine mandate. It quickly became a movement that many joined as a rallying point to protest Canada’s COVID measures and restrictions.
Then it gained popularity and support from American, Republican lawmakers, Reuters reported.
When GoFundMe took down the donation page and did not give the funds to the convoy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted that it was fraud for GoFundMe to “commandeer” $9 million and that he would be working with his state’s attorney general to investigate the situation.
“(T)hese donors should be given a refund,” he said.
It is a fraud for @gofundme to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing.
I will work with @AGAshleyMoody to investigate these deceptive practices — these donors should be given a refund.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 5, 2022
Amid the backlash over its decision, GoFundMe reversed course and said it would be completely refunding donations.
However, Cruz told Fox News that he had sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking them to investigate GoFundMe since it is a for-profit company
“Today I sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking that the FTC open an investigation into GoFundMe into whether they’ve committed deceptive trade practices,” Cruz said.
“Because when people gave money, they gave money under the promise it would go to the Freedom Convoy, not to whatever left-wing political ideology GoFundMe and other Silicon Valley companies support. They are deceiving consumers and it is wrong,” he added.
Cruz described the Freedom Convoy truckers as heroes standing up for American and Canadian freedom, but said some are trying to “crush” them for this.
“They’re defending Canada, but they’re defending America as well. That is, that is courage on display that the government doesn’t have the right to force you to comply to their arbitrary mandates. And they’re standing up for freedom, and of course, big government hates it and is trying to crush them,” he said.
Cruz also blamed the media for villainizing the Freedom Convoy.
Do you think GoFundMe should be investigated?
“The corporate media hates it and is trying to silence them, and big tech — look at what GoFundMe did, people gave $10 million to support the Freedom Convoy because they were so proud of the courage of these truck drivers, and the thieves in Silicon Valley decided ‘We don’t like your politics, so A, We will take your money and then B, we’re going to give it to people we like,’” Cruz said.
The media has not taken kindly to the Freedom Convoy and even major outlets like Reuters have attempted to portray its members as racist or otherwise problematic.
Reuters took pains to point out that the convoy had shut down Ottawa and then tried to paint the movement as racist because a handful of participants displayed Confederate and Nazi flags.
“Protesters have shut down downtown Ottawa, the Canadian capital, for eight days now, with some participants waving Confederate or Nazi flags and some saying they wanted to dissolve Canada’s government. To the increasing fury of residents, Ottawa police have largely stood by and watched as some protesters smashed windows, threatened reporters and health-care workers, and abused racial minorities,” Reuters reported.
But GoFundMe not delivering the millions of dollars that people contributed to the Freedom Convoy was even worse than the media’s bashing.
“Listen,” Cruz said, “If anyone else did that, that is called theft.”