- The Washington Times - Monday, November 12, 2018

Christine Blasey Ford is no longer in the headlines, but she’s still collecting cash through GoFundMe accounts set up by friends and fans who wanted to show their support for her attempt to derail Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s path to the Supreme Court.

As of Monday, more than $850,000 had been pledged to the two biggest online solicitations, with one of them, personally blessed by Ms. Blasey Ford, still raking in more than $4,000 over the weekend.

The organizers of the funds have been strikingly secretive about their operations, declining to respond to messages about the cash they’ve raised. Ms. Blasey Ford’s lawyers have also said little, other than to say they worked pro bono and so the cash won’t have to be used to pay them.

It’s not even clear whether Ms. Blasey Ford has accessed the money.

The California college instructor made waves when she came forward, first anonymously in July and then quite publicly in September, to accuse Justice Kavanaugh of attempted rape at a high school party three decades ago.

While the accusations have not been corroborated by contemporaneous evidence, and the witnesses she said were at the party have refuted her accounts, her story became a major dividing line in American politics — and plenty of Democrats, women who’d suffered assaults, and people who disliked President Trump responded with cash.

A statement from Ms. Blasey Ford, which was posted more than a month ago, said she would be using the money toward security after facing threats and harassment.

“The costs for security, housing, transportation and other related expenses are much higher than we anticipated and they do not show signs of letting up. Funds received via this account will be used to help us pay for these mounting expenses,” Ms. Blasey Ford in the Oct. 3 statement — the last update to the pledge page, created Sept 18.

The page, set up by people who said they were friends and neighbors, set a goal of $150,000. As of Monday it had reached nearly $650,000 in pledges.

A second campaign, also created Sept. 18 by Georgetown University law professor Heidi Feldman, started with a $100,000 goal, and hit that in just a day. She raised the target to $200,000, and topped that, raising nearly $210,000 before it stopped taking pledges.

Ms. Feldman didn’t answer requests for comment, but last month told the Palo Alto Daily Post, in Ms. Blasey Ford’s hometown, that she was making arrangements to transfer the donations to the Ford family.

“I believe that when somebody is trying to legitimately participate in an open democratic process, they should be safe enough to participate without undue intimidation,” Ms. Feldman told the newspaper.

Ms. Blasey Ford’s lawyers last week told National Public Radio she’s still receiving threats and has not been able to return to her job at Palo Alto University.

Her lawyers declined to confirm that to The Washington Times.

Ms. Feldman, for her part, figured Ms. Blasey Ford deserved another tribute. She launched a second GoFundMe campaign to raise money to endow an academic professorship or scholarship in Ms. Blasey Ford’s name. It has more than $30,000 in pledges.

“I am in contact with a few institutions that could suitably house whatever we raise in this campaign. Once details of a formal endowment are arranged, I plan and hope to publicize how future donors can contribute to it directly. In the meantime, gifts to this preliminary round are vital and much appreciated,” Ms. Feldman posted to that campaign page.

GoFundMe is an online fundraising platform that’s proved popular for small charitable offerings, as well as political statements. A page was set up to help fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok, with a goal of $500,000. As of Monday it was at $448,162 — though new pledges have largely dried up.

Justice Kavanaugh’s supporters also turned to GoFundMe, setting up a page to raise money to support him and his family for security or other needs — or to give to a charity of the justice’s choice. The page got more than $600,000 in pledges.

But John Hawkins, the page creator and founder of RightWingNews.com, said late last month he received a letter telling him that under judicial ethics Justice Kavanaugh couldn’t accept the money, nor could he name a charity. The letter ordered that the justice’s name not be used in any fundraising.

Mr. Hawkins posted an update, saying he will instead donate the money to the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. He gave people one week to recover donations if they didn’t approve.

As of Monday, the account had dropped to $490,296

Gabriella Muoz and S.A. Miller contributed to this report.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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