What has happened since the Easter Sunday announcement of 15 MB of data released from Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo?
This data, released to journalists and other researchers, is broken down by campaign and includes names, donation amounts, comments and email addresses. The last date in the cache appears to be donations for February 21, 2021.
The Guardian followed-up an April 10 story about the Proud Boys fundraisers in the GiveSendGo data, with a bombshell about the police and public officials’ email addresses linked to donations to an accused killer.
One crowdfund page raised $586,940 for Kyle Rittenhouse, the white supremacist who allegedly shot and killed Black Lives Matters protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin and fled across state lines. The Guardian reported a donation was made on behalf of the official email of a veteran police officer in charge of internal affairs at the Norfolk, VA police department:
That donation also carried a comment, reading: “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”
The fall-out from this is still a developing story, but so far, Norfolk’s mayor issued a statement, calling the donation “alarming.” (WAVY)
Norfolk police chief Larry Boone said that an unnamed policer officer will be reassigned while the department conducts an investigation into whether he violated any of their policies (Channel 13 WVEC-TV). Lt. William K. Kelly* of Internal Affairs wasn’t named in the chief’s statement, but was named by The Guardian.
“Kelly became an executive officer in Norfolk police’s internal affairs unit two months ago, according to his LinkedIn page. He began working for the department in 2002, city employment records show,” wrote Jonathan Edwards in The Virginian Pilot. WKTR’s News 3 filed a freedom of information request for Lt. William Kelly’s email account (video).
NBC got a statement from the co-founders of GiveSendGo, Heather Wilson and Jacob Wells, confirming that their website was hacked:
"This was not a database breach as characterized, just a frontend attack where a hacker was able to collect email addresses of donors. We have since found and addressed the issue and are scanning the website with outside security auditors to ensure this does not happen again. Aside from emails and names, no financial information is collected from donors by GiveSendGo so there was never any danger of donors' credit card information being compromised."
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel mentioned that “money raised for Rittenhouse became a source of tension among his defense team and family,” with lawyer Lin Wood withdrawing from the legal team and lawyer John Pierce getting fired. Other outlets, like The Hill, The Root, Refinery29, Newsweek and Complex, issued their own version of The Guardian reporting.
Edit: Houston’s Fire Chief Sam Peña, named in The Guardian’s reporting, denied making the donation linked to his email address in the GiveSendGo platform. (Houston Chronicle)
*The Guardian identified 19-year veteran of the police force William K. Kelly’s rank as Sgt. We have identified him with the higher rank, Lt., as reported by The Virginian Pilot. The Daily Beast repeated the Sgt. rank in their report.
Kyle Rittenhouse isn’t the only far right cause célèbre in the GiveSendGo data. The Daily Dot reported that police officers and their family members from across the country “donated to a GiveSendGo fundraiser for Myles Cosgrove, the former Louisville Metro police officer who shot Breonna Taylor as part of a no-knock raid at her apartment.”
And Vice expands on The Guardian’s finding that Rusten Sheskey, the Wisconsin cop who shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake, received thousands of dollars from Kenosha cops via GiveSendGo. Officer Rusten Sheskey recently returned to active duty.
Speaking of fundraisers, Tillie Kottmann’s legal defense fund was evicted from GoFundMe, sadly causing $5,000 in donations to be refunded to donors. The organizers have released a new approved fund, this time on FundRazr.
Attentive readers will note the email list is no longer hosted on Ghost. For transparency: they found our content to be against their ToS. The post that elicited the Ghost ban-hammer:
Release: GiveSendGo (15 MB)
Donor information for every campaign on the 'Christian fundraising platform' GiveSendGo, best known for being used by far-right extremists like the Proud Boys. The site has allegedly also been used to fund and defend insurrectionists who were involved in the January 6 coup attempt, as well as those pushing claims of election fraud.
The dataset is broken down by campaign and includes name, donation amount, comments and email address. While "anonymous" donations do not include names, they do include the donor's email addresses.
Due to PII in the dataset and the inclusion of campaigns not involved in violence or extremism, this dataset is in our Limited Distribution category. This means it is only available to journalists and researchers.