In a report on the aftermath of the so-called "People's Convoy" comprised of a smattering of truckers and their supporters unhappy with a variety of policies under President Joe Biden, several participants -- and organizers -- are questioning where exactly the reported $1.8 million donated to the cause went while at the same time trashing the protest as both a "money grab" and a "circus."
According to Clarrisa Hawes, writing for the trucking industry website Freightwaves, there are more questions than answers about the organizers of the convoy that made more news about the organizing than any political points successfully made.
As her report notes, the convoy that started out with approximately "50 trucks and hundreds of supporters in their personal vehicles" leaving California only to end up in Hagerstown, Maryland with a mere 15 tractor-trailers and about 40 vehicles where they declared victory without explaining what they had achieved before they were evicted.
As Hawes wrote, "In the days prior to the convoy’s collapse, participants and supporters say they were asked to 'pass the hat' and chip in cash to pay the Hagerstown Speedway for allowing them to camp there and use the site as a staging area to launch its slow rolls and loops around the Washington Beltway," which has led to questions about the substantial amount of money that reportedly was raised.
"More than $1.8 million was collected through the convoy’s fundraising platform, the American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedoms (AFCLF). What happened to the money that was supposedly collected over the four days preceding the official May 20 disbanding, which some participants and live streamers claim totaled around $15,000, remains a mystery," the report states. "Since the convoy was evicted from the speedway, organizers, supporters and rival trucking advocacy groups have taken to TikTok, YouTube and conservative social media channels to speculate about what happened to the money."
Questions about the money have focused on organizer Marcus Sommers, "who rode in the organization’s command center’s RV but didn’t drive his own rig during the 87-day event."
According to Sommers, he didn't personally profit from the protest, which led one participant who didn't want to be identified to scoff, "This was a money grab from the very beginning, and everyone who thought they could make a buck from this convoy did.”
"As soon as the money purportedly ran out to fund the People’s Convoy, the finger-pointing commenced among the remaining organizers and the AFCLF, and there were demands for an independent audit. Both the organizers and the AFCLF are calling for their own independent audits to review the more than $1.8 million in donations received over three months," Hawes wrote before adding that accountability has been problematic with Christopher Marston, founder of AFCLF, stating questions should be directed to AFCLF Executive Director Pamela Milacek, who, in turn, said Marston is supposed to be responsible for hiring the accounting firm.
Convoy organizer Brian Brase is also calling for an audit, stating he would pay for it himself in an effort to clear his name.
“What sold us on going with AFCLF was they were going to give us a bank card for the convoy expenses and it never showed up,” Brase told Freightwaves. “We had a lot of problems accessing the funds, and we never knew what the real dollar amount was.”
You can read more here.