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10 Feb, 2022 00:35

Texas probes shutdown of Freedom Convoy fundraiser

The state’s AG said the crowdfunding platform engaged in “deceitful action” after it froze donations to vaccine mandate protesters in Canada
Texas probes shutdown of Freedom Convoy fundraiser

The Texas state government has opened an investigation into crowdfunding platform GoFundMe after the site shut down a campaign on behalf of Canadian truckers in the Freedom Convoy, a large anti-vaccination mandate protest staged primarily in Ottawa.

The state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, announced the move on Wednesday, saying he would act to “protect Texas consumers” and “get to the bottom of this deceitful action” following the platform’s decision to cancel the Freedom Convoy fund drive.

“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,” he said, arguing that Texans deserve to “know where their hard-earned money is going, rather than allowing GoFundMe to divert money to another cause” without their consent.

The site halted donations after “multiple discussions with local law enforcement” and “reports of violence and other unlawful activity” at the trucker-led protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates. Demonstrators have camped out in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, for over a week – what GoFundMe has described as an “occupation.” By the time the campaign shut down, it had raised more than $8 million.

While the platform initially said it would issue refunds to donors only if they explicitly requested it – noting that it would otherwise send the money to charities approved by itself and the Freedom Convoy organizers – it has since reversed course. Earlier this week, GoFundMe issued an update, stating that, “due to donor feedback,” refunds would instead be processed automatically.

Two other states have also vowed to launch similar probes. Missouri AG Eric Schmitt told Fox News on Wednesday that his office would investigate “GoFundMe’s actions to silence the Freedom Convoy,” adding, “I will not stand by and allow these big tech firms to perniciously cancel or stifle speech they disagree with.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis previously said that his state would look into the canceled fund drive, accusing GoFundMe of “deceptive practices.”

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