Like many other major websites used by the far right, the self-described Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo, which was used by Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” protest movement against public health measures to raise millions of dollars, has been hacked very badly, exposing a massive amount of data about the movement’s donors. The data shows that this movement is supported by a broad-based international network of far-right activists, as well as wealthy donors, who are also involved in activism against Covid-19 vaccines, American democracy, and the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.
On February 10, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered GiveSendGo to freeze access to the money raised in both of these campaigns. “Know this! Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds here at GiveSendGo,” the company tweeted in response. Shortly afterward, the hacker broke into the crowdfunding company’s website and stole the donation records — and a whole lot more.
Activists on the right are not happy about this.
The Intercept obtained the hacked donor data — including records of roughly 104,000 donors who gave $9.6 million to two separate GiveSendGo crowdfunding campaigns, “Freedom Convoy 2022” and “Adopt a Trucker” — from the transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets, which is releasing it to journalists and researchers who request access. (For the record, I’m an adviser to DDoSecrets.)
After analyzing the dataset, The Intercept discovered that the majority of donors to the “Freedom Convoy” included in the data are Americans, including U.S. billionaire Thomas Siebel, who is listed as donating $90,000, the largest individual donation. Hundreds of donors are members of the Oath Keepers, an American far-right paramilitary organization. Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers’ founder, was the first January 6 insurrectionist to be charged with seditious conspiracy.
On Wednesday, a Washington Post analysis of U.S. ZIP codes in the data concluded that “the richer an American community was, the more likely residents there were to donate, and the biggest number of contributions often came from communities where registered Republicans made up solid majorities.”
“Freedom Convoy” donors also contributed $7.6 million to other fundraising campaigns on GiveSendGo’s platform.
Thousands of donors gave money to various anti-vaccine causes promoted by Project Veritas, a far-right group known for deceptively editing videos of its undercover operations. On Monday, The Intercept reported that Project Veritas has collaborated on a video project with America’s Frontline Doctors, a major anti-vaccine propaganda group that works with telehealth companies to rake in millions of dollars selling bogus treatments for Covid-19. After that article was published, Project Veritas and AFLDS both denied that they were working together despite the fact that the video trailer lists a Project Veritas staffer as a consulting producer and promotional materials prominently mention Project Veritas.
And thousands more helped fund efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory over Donald Trump. Many had also previously given in support of Kyle Rittenhouse, the far-right teenage vigilante who in 2020 shot three Black Lives Matter protesters, killing two of them, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all counts.
Several donors used government email addresses from agencies like the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and NASA. The Intercept found one donor who used an email address from the Correctional Service of Canada, the Canadian prison system.
Jacob Wells, co-founder of GiveSendGo, verified the authenticity of the hack to the Washington Post. The Globe and Mail confirmed that at least one donor listed in the hacked data donated to the campaign. Brad Howard, the president of a Canadian pressure washer company who donated $75,000 to the fund, issued a statement in support of the “Freedom Convoy.” Gizmodo reached out to several top donors listed in the data, but “only a single donor had responded—only to say Gizmodo should investigate Black Lives Matter instead.”
Most of the Money Came From Canadians
Of the 104,180 donations, 59 percent came from Americans, while only 39 percent came from Canadians. However, Canadians gave just over 50 percent, $4.8 million, of the total money raised, while American donations made up 44 percent, or $4.2 million.
The largest donation record in the hacked data is for $215,000 but does not include data about the donor or which country the money came from. The only information included is the note “Processed but not recorded.” Wells told the Washington Post that this isn’t a single donation at all but rather “an attempt by GiveSendGo to make the public-facing total amount raised accurate, lumping together many donations that came in offline or before its Freedom Convoy campaign page went live.”
Wells says there is no such donation! The line was an attempt by GiveSendGo to make the public-facing total amount raised accurate, lumping together many donations that came in offline or before its Freedom Convoy campaign page went live.
— Aaron C. Davis (@byaaroncdavis) February 16, 2022
The second-largest donation record is $90,000 from Siebel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who founded the enterprise software company Siebel Systems. The email address associated with his donation is hosted on the domain siebel.org. Siebel has supported right-wing causes in the past: In 2008 he hosted a fundraiser for then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The third-largest donation record is $75,000 from Brad Howland, president of the Canadian pressure cleaner company Easy Kleen Pressure Systems. The hacked data marks Howland’s donation as “anonymous,” though he confirmed to the Globe and Mail that he made this donation and supports the “Freedom Convoy.” His donation included the comment “HOLD THE LINE!!!”
Hundreds of Oath Keepers Donated to the “Freedom Convoy”
By cross-referencing data from this hack with last year’s hack of the Oath Keepers, which included membership and donor records, The Intercept discovered 355 matches.
The Oath Keepers were key players in the deadly January 6 Capitol attack that was aimed at overturning Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. Prosecutors allege that Oath Keepers stashed weapons at a nearby hotel as part of “quick reaction forces” that could activate if violence escalated.
Oath Keepers left comments with their donations such as: “NWO Tyrants need to be crushed by the fist of Liberty and Freedom. God bless these truckers and their supporters! Thank you!”; “Make Canada Great Again helps Make America Great Again”; and “The communist pigs in uniform are going to try and steal fuel and food. The Biden Junta is afraid of this happening here. this may be why DHS issued a domestic terrorist threat against americans exercising their first amendment rights. They want to silence free speech and separate people from forming groups to fight the communist coup.”
Thousands of “Freedom Convoy” Donors Gave to Other Anti-Vaccine and Far-Right Causes
The hacked data includes the history of every donation ever made through the GiveSendGo platform. “Freedom Convoy” donors gave a total of $7.6 million to other GiveSendGo campaigns as well as the $9.6 million to the “Freedom Convoy” campaigns.
By comparing the email addresses of “Freedom Convoy” donors with donations from other GiveSendGo campaigns, The Intercept discovered that many of the same donors also gave money to other anti-vaccine causes championed by Project Veritas.
- 1,693 “Freedom Convoy” donors also donated $63,000 to Morgan Kahmann, an anti-vaccine former Facebook employee and self-styled “whistleblower” who leaked an internal document about the social network’s Covid-19 misinformation moderation policy to Project Veritas. Kahmann’s GoSendMe campaign earned him over $500,000.
- 1,612 donors also gave $66,000 to Jodi O’Malley, who is described as a “Covid-19 Federal whistleblower.” O’Malley, a registered nurse who worked for Phoenix Indian Medical Center, recorded a video for Project Veritas making unsubstantiated claims that Covid-19 vaccines harmed patients and that ivermectin is an effective treatment for the virus. Public health experts advise against using ivermectin to treat Covid-19. O’Malley earned $475,000 from this GiveSendGo campaign.
- 1,532 donors also donated $55,000 to Melissa Strickler, a former Pfizer manufacturing quality auditor who leaked company emails to Project Veritas that she believed showed the vaccine contained aborted fetal cells. This is false, but she still earned $347,000 from her GiveSendGo campaign.
The Intercept also discovered that many donors gave to anti-democracy efforts in the U.S., legal defense funds for January 6 prisoners, the legal defense fund for Rittenhouse, and various funds supporting the Proud Boys, an American hate group that also played a role in the January 6 Capitol attack.
- Over 2,000 donors also gave more than $120,000 to campaigns aimed at reversing the 2020 election results. The most prominent campaign was for the Voter Integrity Project, run by former Trump campaign operative Matt Braynard. Braynard raised nearly $700,000 through GiveSendGo for his project, which he claimed would acquire voter data from swing states and use this data to prove that there was voter fraud in states where Trump lost to Biden. Braynard’s efforts have been widely discredited. In a Georgia case that cited his data, Democratic lawyers pointed out that “Braynard does not have the appropriate qualifications to opine on these topics, he does not follow standard methodology in the relevant scientific field, and the survey underlying several of his opinions is fatally flawed.” The case was eventually dismissed.
- Over 2,000 donors also gave more than $130,000 to campaigns related to supporting the legal defense of people arrested for participating in the January 6 Capitol attack, including a fund started by a lawyer representing Ashli Babbitt’s family. Babbitt was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer on January 6 inside the U.S. Capitol.
- 1,166 donors also gave nearly $50,000 to Rittenhouse’s legal defense fund. This campaign raised a total of $629,000. Hundreds of donors also donated $16,000 to campaigns supporting the Proud Boys.
Donors Used Government Email Addresses
A handful of small donations were made using government email addresses.
Someone donated using an email address from the Correctional Service of Canada, the Canadian agency responsible for running prisons. While the user listed his real first and last name in the donation, he put “George Soros” as his display name.
Another person donated multiple times with their U.S. Department of Justice email address. Two people donated using Federal Bureau of Prisons email addresses, and two others donated using NASA email addresses. One donor used their delaware.gov email address. Someone with a U.S. Navy email address donated $50 and listed their display name as “Lets Go Brandon,” and someone with a U.S. Army email address donated $25.
One person used his TSA email address to donate $50 to the anti-vaccine mandate “Freedom Convoy.” The transportation agency has enforced mandates, like requiring passengers to remove their shoes when going through airport checkpoints, in the name of security since September 11, 2001.
So many of the people on this site bleating about mask mandates and freedom and tyranny were totally fine with TSA making us take our shoes off for the past two decades, after 3,000 people died from terrorism on one day, as opposed to 3,000 people now dying from Covid *every day*
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) February 13, 2022