Richard Spencer is scrambling.
The racist alt-right front man has been acting as his own attorney in a civil lawsuit stemming from the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. But, facing the prospect of dealing with real lawyers at a hearing in May, Spencer is using last-ditch fundraising websites in an attempt to collect money to hire someone trained in the law for the case.
With Wesearchr, Hatreon and GoyFundMe offline, Spencer has turned to newer, less well-tested formats such as MakerSupport and FundedJustice.
But, as he seeks to raise $25,000, it isn’t clear that Spencer needs the money.
Spencer and his family still own millions of dollars worth of land where slavery and violence against blacks were once commonplace, they also receive millions from the U.S. government he frequently criticizes.
While Spencer has promised to put up some of his own funds to pay for the lawyer, he wants help.
“I’m being attacked by powerful people, and we must respond. Losing this case would be catastrophic—particularly when we the truth is on our side,” Spencer wrote in a note on FundedJustice.
MakerSupport, a crowd funding platform similar to Patreon, became a place for alt-right figures to go as sites that catered to them closed up shop.
“One of the other fundamental reasons why we’re on MakerSupport is that this is all we’ve got,” Spencer said in late February in a YouTube video. “We have been de-platformed from all major payment systems and other payment platforms. We can’t use them — but we can use MakerSupport.”
But, how much good the site will do Spencer or fellow-traveler Sargon of Akkad (aka British YouTuber Carl Benjamin) is something of a mystery.
It seems that MakerSupport hasn’t been making payouts of funds collected. And, the site, which says it is run by a 21-year-old software engineer from Indiana named “Connor Douglass,” has been posting on Twitter about payout issues for two months but has yet to have a solution.
“MakerSupport's team apologizes for the pause in payouts. We are currently working through an issue with Stripe and we hope to have a final word within a week,” is the last tweet from the site on April 20.
A contact for Douglass listed on the MakerSupport site did not respond to an email from the Southern Poverty Law Center on Friday.
Numerous users have tweeted complaints about the site failing to let users cash out and not responding to queries about where their money is.
“Mark my words. When a week is up you’ll never hear nothing from them,” wrote a Twitter user Right Wing Bodyguard, who describes himself as “Conservative. Trump supporter Life-long member of the NRA.”
While Sargon of Akkad was compiling $1,250 monthly from supporters on the site, it’s unclear how much Spencer was pulling down in donations before the assets were frozen and MakerSupport stopped paying out.
So, Spencer turned to FundedJustice, a site run by Chicago lawyer Mike Helfand, who told the Chicago Tribune that he reviews each fundraising pitch to ensure people don’t post anything that could jeopardize a case in the future.
“If you need $1,500, $2,000 to hire an attorney – most people don’t have someone who will lend them that money, but a lot of people know 100 people who would give them $20,” Helfand told the paper.
And, who exactly post on FundedJustice is fairly open.
“We are truly agnostic when it comes to campaign selections. If your campaign touches a legal or Social Justice issue we are the right partner for you,” Helfand wrote on the site.
Along with Spencer, Arkansas-based neo-Nazi Billy Roper and Greg Conte, one of Spencer’s closest associates, are also using FundedJustice to raise money for various alt-right related legal causes.
But, given the recent history of the alt-right and crowdfunding websites, it remains to be seen how much Spencer, Roper and others can raise and how long their use of such sites stays viable.