An undertone of doubt and suspicion appears to growing louder among some of the truckers taking part in the "People's Convoy" in the Washington, D.C. area. As the Daily Beast notes, many in the gathering have begun questioning where and how the $1.6 million raised online to support the effort is being spent.
Since last weekend the group has massed in the parking lot of a racetrack in Hagerstown, Md, which is about 80 miles northeast of the District of Columbia. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday the mix of big rigs, pickup trucks and sedans has driven a couple of laps in midday around the 64-mile circular highway to protest the non-existent federal government COVID-19 mandate. They stayed put at the racetrack on Wednesday because it rained.
Organizers told The Daily Beast that the size of the convoy, already about 10,000 strong, has increased this week as a result of media coverage. But questions are being asked about the money, the mission and the people behind the effort.
Many leaders and organizers actually are seasoned industry lobbyists, and some participants are wondering what their angle may be. For many of the actual truckers, they put their jobs on hold to join the rolling demonstration. And yet, those who signed up for action watched with disappointment and frustration as the project appeared to morph into a last-minute lobbying campaign. Some donors have expressed confusion about the funding and the mission, wondering whether the convoy will “finish what they started.”
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie Adams, told The Daily Beast that the convoy and its sponsor, the AFCLF (American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedom) might have to face questions about where the money has gone. “The federal standard to prove wire fraud has two elements: That somebody intended to defraud somebody else; and that they used wire communications to do it. So here the question is whether they intended to defraud,” Adams explained.
She pointed to the convoy’s website, which says explicitly that “100% OF THE DONATIONS GO TO SUPPORTING THE CONVOY!”
“A prosecutor would look at what’s communicated on that site to see what someone would reasonably believe that money would be spent on,” Adams said, noting that if they do not intend that all funds are really going to be used “on a road trip to straighten out our problems,” that would be misrepresenting.
“From the outside looking in, it’s hard to see where that money is going,” said Jared Holt, a researcher and Daily Beast contributor who studies American right-wing movements. “This has also frustrated some amount of people in the group’s Telegram chat rooms, who claim to have donated while anticipating a more dramatic protest. They fundraised and stockpiled as if they were going to camp out in the streets of D.C., but instead they’re kicking dirt at a racetrack in a city most D.C. residents have never even visited.”
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