COLUMBUS, Ohio (WANE) – Ohio’s Attorney General wants to hear from Ohioans who donated to demonstrators protesting COVID-19 restrictions in Canada.
Attorney General Dave Yost (R-Ohio) is urging Ohioans who were impacted by GoFundMe’s initial decision to refund or redirect donations given to demonstrators protesting COVID-19 restrictions in Canada to contact his office.
“It is deeply troubling that a professional fundraiser holding donations in trust would think they have the right to unilaterally redistribute donations,” Yost said. “If you’re an Ohioan that donated to the #FreedomConvoy through GoFundMe, I want to hear from you.”
The crowdfunding site GoFundMe announced Friday it would redirect donations raised for demonstrators protesting COVID-19 measures in Canada after the organization determined that the efforts had violated the site’s terms of service due to unlawful activity. The fund had grown to around $10 million Canadian dollars, which equates to $7.8 million U.S. dollars.
“GoFundMe is bowing to public outrage by not directly distributing funds as they were intended,” said Yost. “I want to verify that GoFundMe isn’t playing God with other people’s money.”
GoFundMe has now reversed its earlier course and announced it will refund every dime of this fundraising drive automatically, without demand, thereby eliminating the possibility of “redirecting” donations with the consent of the donor.
“While that is a welcomed move, I am still interested in collecting information to make sure such things do not happen in the future,” Yost said. “Ohioans rely on their platform to do good, and their intentions and hopes should be honored.”
The Attorney General directed the agency’s Consumer Protection team to review GoFundMe’s terms of service to assess compliance with Ohio law. Consumers who donated to the cause should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by filing a consumer complaint online or by calling 800-282-0515.