Montana AG Austin Knudsen launches investigation into GoFundMe
(Daily Montanan) The Montana Attorney General launched an investigation into GoFundMe last week after the company announced plans to withhold $9 million from the Freedom Convoy protesting against vaccine mandates in Canada and instead send the money to other charities verified by the company.
In redirecting the funds, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said the crowdfunding site violated Montana’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.
“Montanans who give to charitable causes should feel confident that their money will go to help the people they intended. GoFundMe’s actions undermine that confidence and should be of concern to those who use their platform. They may have also violated Montana law,” Knudsen said in a Friday news release announcing the investigation. “My office is looking into this matter further, and we will continue to act to protect Montanans from being taken advantage of.”
In a Daily Wire story on Thursday, Knudsen said it Freedom Convoy “is something that very likely had Montana donors participating, given Alberta literally shares a border with us.” Officials in other conservative states, including Florida, Louisiana, West Virginia and Texas, plan on launching probes into GoFundMe’s actions as well, the Daily Wire reported.
GoFundMe said it would not release $9 million of the nearly $10 million raised for the Freedom Convoy because the demonstration violated the company’s terms of service, which “prohibits the promotion of violence and harassment,” according to the letter sent to GoFundMe by Knudsen.
“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 told The Associated Press.
As part of the investigation, Knudsen asked the Sacramento, California, company a series of questions, including procedural and administrative questions, and if it considered canceling fundraisers during the 2020 protests against police brutality.
The Freedom Convoy, which started on Jan. 30 in Canada’s Capital had turned into an “occupation” by Feb. 4 “with blaring horns, traffic gridlock and harassment,” Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly told The AP.