A GoFundMe fundraiser brought in nearly $400,000 for a homeless man, but now he can’t access it
A heartwarming internet story has turned sour. Last November, Kate McClure raised a little over $400,000 for Johnny Bobbitt, a homeless man who did a kind deed for her. Now, Bobbitt is saying that he can’t access half of that money and he’s back on the street, panhandling to stay afloat.
Here’s a little background: McClure met Bobbitt last year, when she ran out of gas at an interstate. Bobbitt told her to stay in the car, lock the doors, and then used his last $20 to buy her a can of gas. McClure was so grateful for Bobbitt’s selfless act that she started a GoFundMe to raise money for him.
“With the money, I would like to get him first and last month’s rent at an apartment, a reliable vehicle, and 4-6 months worth of expenses,” McClure wrote. “He is very interested in finding a job, and I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night’s rest, his life can get back to being normal. Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break.”
People dug deep in their pockets after reading the touching story, and McClure raised $402,706 (far, far exceeding her $10,000 goal). So, that was then.
Today, Bobbitt said that he was only given half of the money raised. The rest is being held by McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico. The couple told The Philadelphia Inquirer that they will hand over the rest of the money once Bobbitt is employed and drug-free. “Giving him all that money, it’s never going to happen. I’ll burn it in front of him,” D’Amico said, adding that, because Bobbitt struggles with drug addiction, all that money is like “giving him a loaded gun.”
Bobbitt says that he never saw the total first installment of $200,000 and that the couple controlled his spending. He also notes that he never had direct access to the money that was raised. He did, however, note that he spent a lump sum of $25,000 and used it to pay family members, friends, and purchase drugs. The thing is, setting up this type of account and making it known exactly who and what it’s for means that money should probably go to who it’s designated to. Attempting to control the way Bobbitt spends his money just makes this whole story one giant, slippery slope.
Bobbitt tells The Inquirer that he’s concerned that McClure and D’Amico have spent the rest of the money for their own personal use. The two denied those claims, though D’Amico admitted that he used $500 of the GoFundMe funds to gamble one night but said he repaid the account. See? Slippery slope indeed.
Meanwhile, GoFundMe is stepping in and investigating this whole messy situation. “GoFundMe is looking into the claims of misuse regarding this campaign,” the organization tells BuzzFeed News. “When there is a dispute, we work with all parties involved to ensure funds go to the right place. We will work to ensure that Johnny receives the help he deserves and that the donors’ intentions are honored.”
Bobbitt has also gotten in touch with pro bono lawyer Jacqueline Promislo, who is going to try to help him sort everything out.
“I think he is just a genuine, sincere person who has been the victim of so many bad circumstances,” Promislo said. “We want to make sure he has the opportunity to benefit from the incredible generosity of people.”