Defendants in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot continue to crowdfund their legal fees online using popular payment processors and an expanding network of fundraising platforms, despite a growing crackdown from tech companies.
The Capitol riot extremists and others are engaging these companies in a game of cat-and-mouse as they spring from one fundraising tool to another, utilizing new sites, usernames and accounts.
In one case, a crowdfunding website set up in late 2020 has been adopted by a defendant charged with storming the Capitol, who has used it to raise almost $180,000. His was one of only eight fundraisers on the site as of last week, and his donations accounted for 84% of the money raised on the platform.
The trend isn’t limited to extremists connected to Jan. 6. Neo-Nazi Paul Millerhas crowdfunded legal fees through Cash App and asked for Bitcoin donations, even after federal authorities arrested him this month for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“It’s so predictable, and it’s never going away,” said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University who has studied how extremists raise money online. “Whenever there’s money involved, it’s never going to stop; there will always be something new that pops up.”