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AG Pax­ton Inves­ti­gates GoFundMe for Shut­ting Down Fundrais­er and Tak­ing $10 Mil­lion from the Cana­di­an Trucker’s Free­dom Convoy

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AG Pax­ton Inves­ti­gates GoFundMe for Shut­ting Down Fundrais­er and Tak­ing $10 Mil­lion from the Cana­di­an Trucker’s Free­dom Convoy

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) to GoFundMe Inc. to investigate potential violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). The crowd-funding platform’s integrity has come into question after it removed a multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign for the Canadian truckers “Freedom Convoy” which is protesting vaccine mandates. 

“GoFundMe’s response to an anti-mandate, pro-liberty movement should ring alarm bells to anyone using the donation platform and, more broadly, any American wanting to protect their constitutional rights,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Many Texans donated to this worthy cause. I am acting to protect Texas consumers so that they know where their hard-earned money is going, rather than allowing GoFundMe to divert money to another cause without the consent of Texas citizens. I will get to the bottom of this deceitful action.” 

The Office of the Attorney General is investigating the past and present practices of GoFundMe Inc. The general subject matter of the investigation is to determine whether this entity is engaging in practices that may violate the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), Tex. Bus. & Com. Code § 17.46 et seq.

Pursuant to the authority granted to the Office of the Attorney General – Consumer Protection Division under the provisions of § 17.61 of the TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE, you are hereby directed to produce the documentary material listed in Exhibit A, attached hereto.

You are to make available the documentary material described in Exhibit A to Karyn A. Meinke or the persons designated below as “authorized agents.” The documents shall be produced by 5:00 P.M. on or before February 28, 2022, by mailing copies of the described documentary material via certified or couriered mail to our office, located at 112 E. Pecan St., Ste. 735, San Antonio, TX 78205.

TAKE NOTICE THAT pursuant to § 17.62, TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE, any person who, with intent to avoid, evade, or prevent compliance, in whole or in part, with this directive by removing, concealing, withholding, destroying, mutilating, altering, or by any other means falsifying any documentary material is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 or by confinement in the county jail for not more than one year, or both.

AG Paxton gives detail instructions

Read These Instructions/Definitions Carefully. Your production must comply with the
following instructions and definitions.

  1. Duty to Preserve Documents. All documents and/or other data which relate to the subject matter or requests of this Civil Investigative Demand must be preserved. Any ongoing, scheduled or other process of document or data destruction involving such documents or data must cease even if it is your normal or routine course of business for you to delete or destroy such documents or data and even if you believe such documents or data are protected from discovery by privilege or otherwise. Failure to preserve such documents or data may result in legal action and may be regarded as spoliation of evidence under applicable law.
  2. Relevant Dates. Unless otherwise noted, the requests in this Civil Investigative Demand require production of documents from February 1, 2020 to the final date of your production of responsive documents, herein called “the relevant time period.”
  3. Custody and Control. In responding to this Civil Investigative Demand, you are required to produce not only all requested documents in your physical possession, but also all requested documents within your custody and control. A document is in your custody and control if it is in the possession of another person and your right to possess that document is equal or superior to that other person’s right of possession.
  4. Identification of Documents not in Custody or Control. If any responsive document was, but no longer is, in your possession, custody or control, produce a description of each such document. The description shall include the following:
    a. The name of each author, sender, creator, and initiator of such document;
    b. the name of each recipient, addressee, or party for whom such document was intended;
    c. the date the document was created;
    d. the date(s) the document was in use;
    e. a detailed description of the content of the document;
    f. the reason it is no longer in your possession, custody or control; and
    g. the document’s present whereabouts.
    If the document is no longer in existence, in addition to providing the information indicated above, state on whose instructions the document was destroyed or otherwise disposed of, and the date and manner of the destruction or disposal.
  5. Trade Secrets. If you contend that any document produced pursuant to this Civil Investigative Demand contains trade secrets under applicable law, you must notify this office of your claim under section 17.61(f) of the Texas Business and Commerce Code by clearly and conspicuously labelling such documents as trade secrets before they are produced.
  6. Consult Before Producing Documents. Before processing or making copies of hard copy documents or electronically stored information in response to this Civil Investigative Demand, you must consult with the designated representative(s) of the Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”), identified above, and reach agreement on the format and method of production.
    2 Likewise, before producing any original documents, you are required to consult with one of the designated representatives of the OAG identified above to obtain approval. If you produce original documents, the OAG cannot guarantee their return.
  7. You May Produce Copies. Subject to the consultation requirement noted above, you may submit photocopies (with color photocopies where necessary to interpret the document) in lieu of original hard-copy documents, provided that such copies are accompanied by an affidavit of an officer of Prosperity Bank stating that the copies are true, correct, and complete copies of the original documents and were generated and maintained in the ordinary course of your business. Note that if the original contains colored text or images, a color copy must also be provided.
  8. Non-identical Copies to be Produced. Any copy of a document that differs in any manner, including but not limited to the presence of handwritten notations, different senders or recipients, etc. shall be produced.
  9. No Redaction. All materials or documents produced in response to this Civil Investigative Demand shall be produced, in complete unabridged, unedited and unredacted form, even if portions may contain information not explicitly requested, or might include interim or final editions of a document.
  10. Documents to be Bates Numbered. Mark each page or electronic medium (e.g., disk, tape, or CD) with individual or corporate identification and eight-digit consecutive document control numbers (e.g., DOE-12345678; CORP-12345678). Hardcopy bound pamphlets or books may be marked with a single identification and control number.
    If your production will be more than one box or piece of electronic media, number each box or electronic media, as well as the total number of boxes/media (e.g., box 1 of 13) and mark each with the name(s) of the person(s) whose files are contained therein, the requests(s) to which they are responsive, and the document control numbers contained therein.
  11. Document Organization. Each document and other tangible thing produced shall be clearly designated as to which Request, and each sub-part of a Request, that it satisfies. The documents produced shall be identified and segregated to correspond with the number and subsection of the request.
  12. Production of Electronic Documents. Unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the designated OAG representative, electronically stored information shall be produced in electronic form. Before you prepare documents or information for production in electronic form in order to comply with this Civil Investigative Demand (for example, before you attempt to process electronically stored information or image hard copy documents), you must consult with the designated representative(s) of the OAG identified above and reach agreement regarding the format and method of production.
  13. Modification only with Written Agreement. You may not modify this Civil Investigative Agreement except by court order or written agreement from Assistant Attorney or an authorized representative.
  14. Questions. Questions concerning this Civil Investigative Demand should be directed to Assistant Attorney General Karyn A. Meinke at 210-225-4191.

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