Crowdfunding Ethics

Death of Lawmaker’s Son Prompts Comment on Ethics of GoFundMe Donations From Lobbyists

Caleb Schwab Gofundme

Y’all may not know this about me but before I spent my time lurking around the darkest corners of the internet smoking out the cockroaches behind fraudulent GoFundMe campaigns, I did some time in Washington getting to know the massive money machine behind our laws on Capitol Hill. I always used to joke about how surprised I was that no comically oversized check like the kind given to lottery winners changed hands after a meeting with lobbyists-for-the-day and the lawmakers they were there to visit. It was actually surprising, despite the fact that we all know it happens, how freely senators threw out a good ole *wink wink* ‘hey, thanks for your help on that last campaign, now what can I do for you?’

I share that only to say I nerd out on things like fundraising ethics outside of the personal crowdfunding space, and humbly digress here before I ramble further off topic.

After the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab — son of Kansas state rep Scott Schwab — at a Kansas City waterpark on Sunday, a state panel has gathered to address any ethical concerns that may arise from donations to the boy’s GoFundMe campaign.

AP reports:

The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission says state law limits contributions by lobbyists to a GoFundMe campaign to cover the funeral expenses for a state lawmaker’s son who died at a water park.

The commission said Monday that contributions to the campaign to help Rep. Scott Schwab’s family fall under the state’s $40-a-year limit on gifts from lobbyists to legislators. The commission also said lobbyists must report their contributions to the state.

The commission had a short teleconference Monday to respond to what Executive Director Carol Williams said were numerous inquiries from lobbyists.

The campaign states it was requested by Pastor Clint Sprague of the family’s LifeMission Church, and shares a ‘message’ from the family which was actually distributed to the public through Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick:

“Michele and I want to thank the Olathe and Kansas City, Kansas communities and all of our friends and family for their outpouring of support and compassion as it relates to the sudden loss of our son, Caleb Thomas Schwab.

Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those he came in contact with. As we try to mend our home with him no longer with us, we are comforted knowing he believed in our Savior Jesus, and they are forever together now. We will see him another day.

Your continued prayers are welcome and appreciated. We appreciate your understanding of our family’s need for privacy during this difficult time of grieving.”

As of press time, the campaign has raised over $25k.


  1. Debby

    This man has a good paying job and his wife is a pharmacist! They have insurance plus I’m sure they will get a ton from the water park. This is a n extreme misuse of a Go fund me account. people who don’t have much money give emotionally to these things and that’s a shame.

  2. Jessi

    These people are abusing the system. Seriously, they cannot pay for their own child’s funeral expenses? WHAT A SHAME! SHAME SHAME!

    • Anon

      It sure seems odd, doesn’t it? Just like many other families we’ve seen open ‘go fund me’ donation accounts in the midst of tragedy…. (it’s not like they struggle to cover funeral expenses, so where does the money donated into these accounts go?)

  3. Nik

    THIS needs to be investigated. A law creator getting UNDISCLOSED money from everyone that touched that ride! GoFundMe closed $35,000. Direct donations to family church should be disclosed as well.

    News Release today shows “Last month the Schwab family reached a settlement of an undisclosed amount with the park’s owners and the ride’s manufacturer that will go to Caleb’s family, attorneys for the family, Mike Rader and Todd Scharnhorst, told ABC News.

    All claims against the local amusement park as well as the raft manufacturer have been resolved, The family continues to pursue claims against a Texas-based company, Henry & Sons, which constructed Verruckt, as well as claims against a consultant who evaluated the slide before being opened to the public.”

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