Justice Demands Payment: DOJ Seeks to Claim January 6 Crowdfunding Proceeds
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has been targeting January 6 convicts, not only with severe prison sentences but with demands that they pay considerable fines — a response, in part, to their successful crowdfunding campaigns. The DOJ insists that no wrongdoer should profit from their crimes, but should this extend to crowdsourced donations?
While many January 6 defendants have pled guilty to the charges against them, the DOJ remains vigilant in ensuring that they don’t “capitalize” on their notoriety. Attorney William Shipley has warned his clients against promoting themselves as political prisoners on crowdfunding sites, arguing that it may harm their cases. Nonetheless, numerous January 6 defendants have continued to raise thousands of dollars through crowdfunding, with some even receiving support from outlets like Fox News.
The DOJ’s strategy in going after the cash raised by these defendants has been fiercely debated, with questions raised about what constitutes using ill-gotten money. Shipley has pointed out the public’s sympathy towards the defendants, suggesting that this has contributed to the success of their fundraising efforts. So far, those involved in the January 6 Capitol events have been ordered to pay nearly $1 million in total fines and restitution.
Critics argue that many defendants felt they had no alternative but to plead guilty given the DOJ’s persistent pressure. Shipley has filed motions to overturn convictions based on suppressed exculpatory materials, including previously unseen surveillance footage. As it stands, only one defendant has been acquitted of all charges, with the rest still facing ongoing trials.
In conclusion, the debate over whether confiscated crowdfunding funds should be earmarked for the DOJ’s coffers continues to divide opinions on the January 6 issue.