October 25, 2021

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Nearly all of Greg Abbott’s border wall crowdfunding came from one billionaire donor

Before Mellon’s intervention, Abbott’s fund had a final destination of Flopsville, raising just $1.25 million as of mid-August. For context, the $2 billion swindled by the previous president would still only cover a portion of costs. “But on Aug. 27, a state website that tracks donations to the crowdfunding effort said the fund had jumped to nearly $19 million,” The Texas Tribune said. “By the end of the month, it had topped $54 million. The donations have since stalled again.” Could it be that Texans maybe have actual problems that Abbott is ignoring?

The article’s co-author, James Barragán, further noted that even though Abbott had promised” transparency and accountability” when it came to the project’s donations, that was—surprise—bullshit. 

“The government websites that tracks donations to the site keeps a tally of the aggregate of all donations, but it does not readily provide the names of all individual donors & it does not automatically update,” he wrote. After filing a public records request for the information, he said some names were apparent fakes, unless there actually is a Donnie Darko somewhere in Texas. “That’s when the governor’s office told us that they were not keeping official names, only what was submitted on the website,” he continued. “But the Department of Information Resources tracks all the payments. So we figured they had real names & locations of donors. So we got them from there.”

Through more digging, they found Mellon’s stock donation and figured out why he donated stock. “Through some reporting, we learned that donating stock actually could give Mellon a pretty sweet tax deal in that he’d avoid the capital gains tax as well as be able to take a deduction on the donation,” Barragán wrote.

As part of the anti-immigrant campaign he launched to save his ass during the Republican primary, Abbott has also ordered local law enforcement to round up asylum-seekers and migrants who have recently crossed into the state, jailing them for weeks and even months without any charges. We knew the scheme was reprehensible, but we just barely scratched the surface because a prosecutor recently dropped charges against several men who said that officers zip-tied their hands, forced them to climb 10-foot-fencing onto private property, then arrested them for trespassing.

Charges had also been dropped against two asylum-seekers who advocates said “were forced to sign pre-filled legal forms in English they could not understand.” Ivan Nava and David Muñoz should have been released, but the jail instead illegally held them in order to turn them over to border officials. And Abbott seems only to be ramping up Operation Lone Star. Like Grassroots Leadership co-executive director Claudia Muñoz recently told Prism’s Tina Vasquez, “if we don’t get a grip on this soon, it’s going to be really, really bad.” 

This isn’t the only recent instance of rich men making shady donations to the vanity projects of anti-immigrant governors. South Dakota’s Kristi Noem deployed 50 National Guard troops to the border thanks to a “private donation” from a Tennessee-based billionaire megadonor who made his cash from used cars and gave more than half a million dollars to the previous president’s campaign, The Washington Post reported. Noem similarly refused to release specifics, claiming in a statement that “[f]or operational security reasons, specific names of units, number of members, and mission specifics will not be released.” 

“’Deploying the National Guard’ to the border usually means having them sit around watching cameras and twiddling their thumbs,” tweeted American Immigration Council Policy Counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. But its not coming out of Noem’s pocket, so why would she care?

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