The governor of the US state of Florida said on Saturday it was fraud for GoFundMe to “commandeer” $9m in donations sent to support protesting truck drivers in Canada and he will investigate what he called “deceptive practices” by the website.
GoFundMe took down the so-called Freedom Convoy’s page on Friday, saying it violated its terms of service. It said donors had two weeks to request a refund, then the remaining funds would be disbursed to “credible and established charities”.
Governor Ron DeSantis said on Twitter that it was fraud for GoFundMe to give the money “to causes of their own choosing”, and he would work with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to investigate.
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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
GoFundMe did not immediately respond to a request for comment on DeSantis’s tweet.
In a Twitter post, the company said on Saturday “due to donor feedback” it was simplifying the process and 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 said.
US Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has embraced conspiracy theories, also denounced GoFundMe for the move.
“These corporate communists – this big tech company, basically – that acts as like a bank, and their corporate communists are stealing money,” she said in a post on the conservative social media site Gettr.
“I mean, this is literally theft by deception. It is completely wrong and they should be arrested. They seriously should be arrested.”
The Freedom Convoy began as a movement against a vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers, but has turned into a rallying point against public health measures.
Protesters have shut down downtown Ottawa for eight days, with some participants waving Confederate or Nazi flags and some saying they want to dissolve Canada’s government.
Cities including the financial hub Toronto braced for disruptions on Saturday as protests spread from Ottawa, raising fears of clashes with counter-protesters.