Rep. Ritchie Torres, DN.Y., and two dozen House Democrats on Thursday asked the Treasury Department to outline the steps it has taken to prevent domestic extremist groups from using crowdfunding platforms to raise millions – million.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen shared exclusively with USA TODAY, Democratic lawmakers said they were concerned by a report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that identified 324 crowdfunding Extremists’ campaign generated at least $6.2 million from 2016 to 2022 in financing their activities.
The windfall of the names of the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and extremist Black Hebrew Israelites shows that America is in the “heyday of extremist fundraising,” an ADL expert told USA TODAY last month.
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“As you know, the intelligence and law enforcement communities are deeply concerned about the threat of violent extremists at home,” the lawmakers wrote. “Data shows antisemitism, extremism, and violence committed by extremists are at historical highs, and deadly violence by white supremacist movements constitutes the highest proportion of violence.”
The lawmakers asked for information on the Treasury Department’s efforts to address extremist crowdfunding campaigns and gave Yellen until March 17 to respond.
“We must stop violent extremist threats, including the funding that fuels their violent acts,” they wrote.
ADL researchers tracked campaigns on 10 crowdfunding sites. The majority was set up by GiveSendGo, which calls itself a Christian crowdfunding website founded in 2014. GiveSendGo’s campaigns accounted for $5.4 million in total fundraising recorded by the group.
As USA TODAY reported in 2021, participants in the riots at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, used GiveSendGo and other crowdfunding sites to raise money for their legal fees and other expenses. GiveSendGo describes itself as a conservative alternative to mainstream crowdfunding platforms.
The ADL report concludes that $4.75 million has been raised over the past four years for campaigns connected to the insurrection at these sites.
The ADL also found what it described as “a number of small, short-lived sites dedicated to extremist and hateful causes.” They include sites with names like “GoyFundMe” and “Hatreon.”
Many of the campaigns the ADL tracks are small, raising amounts in the hundreds or low thousands of dollars. But others have raised tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Shortly after the Jan. 6 riots, GoFundMe banned fundraising for travel to political events with a “risk of violence.” But other sites, notably GiveSendGo, have become a go-to for extremists and their supporters.