Scott Hennen: GoFundMe's NoDAPL dollars put police in danger
Throughout the protests surrounding the Dakota Access pipeline in Morton County, N.D., many people have asked how these protesters are being funded. Anyone who takes even a moment to try to follow the money cannot avoid ending up on a page hosted by the charity fundraising web platform GoFundMe.
Whether it's the infamous "Veterans For Standing Rock" with their missing $1.1 million, or another organization in the litany of Standing Rock-based pages on the website, rough estimates for the amount raised on these pages have been reported to be around $11 million. Just as a point of reference, the state of North Dakota already has spent more than $30 million managing the crisis these donations were meant to fund.
All of this begs the question of whether GoFundMe shoulders any of the blame for providing a platform to fundraise for illegal protest activities—activities that include repeated violent attacks against our North Dakota law enforcement officers, using everything from Molotov cocktails and other improvised explosive devices to actual guns.
Do the site's owners care that they are actively enabling professional protesters to come into our community and disrupt the lives and livelihoods of both the residents of Morton County and members of the Standing Rock tribe alike?
When you take a deeper look at GoFundMe, it becomes clear that the answer is no.
GoFundMe is a business. And their business is fundraising for "causes" like these protesters. In 2015, Forbes magazine published an article outlining how GoFundMe earns "profits off of controversy." As the company outlines in its "Common Questions" page, GoFundMe takes a 5 percent fee from every contribution made over the site, along with an additional 3 percent processing fee.
Meaning the company has made roughly $880,000 off of these DAPL protests without having to do a thing beyond maintaining the website.
Pretty good haul for just shy of six months.
While the website has no official ideological loyalty, all you have to do is look at members of the company's senior leadership to get an idea of where they fall on the political spectrum.
The company's chairman and CEO, Rob Solomon, gave the maximum amount in contributions allowed by law to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. President and Chief Product Officer David Hahn is a former staffer for ultra-liberal California Senator Diane Feinstein.
And GoFundMe's vice president for communications and policy is none other than Dan Pfeiffer, former senior advisor, White House communications director and long-time confidant of President Obama.
Shockingly, there are no former Republican political staff members serving as executives for GoFundMe.
So the truth is, despite the violent and illegal behavior these GoFundMe pages are supporting, the company probably doesn't care. They are probably indifferent to the close to 600 people who have been arrested during these protests, or the public posting of threats against police officers, community leaders and their families.
They're making a hefty profit while supporting the liberal causes they personally believe in, while never having to leave sunny California.
It's all win-win for them, even if it's all lose-lose for North Dakota and its residents.