Bipartisan AGs Slam GoFundMe for Biased Policies

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton (R.) speaks in front of the Supreme Court in 2019 / Getty Images
April 20, 2022

A bipartisan slate of state attorneys general is calling on GoFundMe to end its arbitrary suspension of fundraisers it deems "unacceptable."

Attorneys general from 28 states and territories signed a letter that urges the company to develop transparent policies for removing users or ending fundraisers. The fundraising platform's terms of service allow GoFundMe to freeze donations for "any activity GoFundMe may deem, in its sole discretion, to be unacceptable."

"While platforms like GoFundMe can and should act as conduits connecting donors and fundraisers, platforms like GoFundMe are not and should not be empowered to unilaterally make decisions regarding where donated funds will go or why," the letter reads.

Some Republicans have pointed to a string of recent "deplatforming" controversies to accuse GoFundMe of anti-conservative bias. The site in February blocked donations supporting the Canadian trucker convoy, which amounted to $9 million. And in 2020, the company suspended conservative commentator Candace Owens and shut down a fundraising portal for an Alabama restaurant owner who called George Floyd a "thug."

Republican politicians such as Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Louisiana attorney general Jeff Landry suggested that GoFundMe violated consumer protection laws when it axed financial support for the Canadian truckers. Consumer protection laws protect charitable givers from fraud and ensure charities fulfill donor expectations when handling contributions.

GoFundMe initially gave pro-trucker donors two weeks to request a refund. Leftover contributions would be redirected to "credible and established charities."

That move prompted Texas attorney general Ken Paxton (R.) to open an investigation of the company. His office sent a filing to GoFundMe that directed it to produce or preserve internal documents and communications. That inquiry is ongoing.

"I am acting to protect Texas consumers so that they know where their hard-earned money is going, rather than allowing GoFundMe to divert money to another cause without the consent of Texas citizens," Paxton said. "I will get to the bottom of this deceitful action." The company ultimately decided to automatically refund all donations without any action on the contributor's part.

The AGs' letter also calls on GoFundMe to "fully respond to any previously issued or forthcoming civil investigative demands or administrative subpoenas," a reference to Paxton's ongoing probe.

The bipartisan letter asks GoFundMe to make sure donors are "​​conspicuously informed at the time of their donation of the circumstances under which their donation may be blocked, frozen, redirected, or refunded." It also asks for criteria the company uses to identify "unacceptable" causes.

While GoFundMe has attracted scrutiny due to its alleged anti-conservative bias, several progressive AGs, including Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel (D.) and Nevada attorney general Aaron Ford (D.), signed the letter.

The company did not respond to the Washington Free Beacon's request for comment.

GoFundMe State AGs Letter by Washington Free Beacon on Scribd