Marine vet Daniel Penny’s GiveSendGo legal defense fund is the site’s second-biggest campaign

Marine veteran Daniel Penny’s crowdfunding campaign to pay his legal fees in the death of an erratic homeless man on the New York City subway is among GiveSendGo’s most successful fundraisers in its history, the company’s co-founder told Fox News Digital.

“It’s the No. 2 ever on GiveSendGo,” Chief Financial Officer Jacob Wells said. “This definitely sparked an emotional response with many people.”

He added that, at one point, the fund was raising $1,000 a minute after the Marine vet was charged with one count of second-degree manslaughter in the May 1 death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely.

According to Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass, Neely, who suffered from mental illness, was acting aggressively on the Manhattan subway car, “making threats and scaring passengers,” when Penny dragged him to the floor and put him in a chokehold.

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Jacob Wells pictured in a suit next to Daniel Penny after he surrendered.

GiveSendGo CFO Jacob Wells, left, says Daniel Penny’s legal defense campaign is the second-most successful in the company’s history. (GiveSendGo/Brendan McDermid via Reuters)

A woman in her 60s who was on the train told Fox News Digital Penny was a “hero” who intervened to protect other passengers from harm. Neely has a history of violent attacks on passengers.

The death has attracted national attention and has divided the country, with many calling Penny a “hero” and others denouncing him as a “murderer.”

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But more than 55,000 supporters have spoken with their wallets, flooding GiveSendGo with donations totaling more than $2,711,000 as of Sunday morning.

Wells said, unlike GoFundMe, the largest crowdfunding platform, GiveSendGo allows campaigns for people accused of violent crimes.

Daniel Penny is shown holding Jordan Neely in a chokehold.

This screenshot from bystander video shows Daniel Penny holding Jordan Neely in a chokehold on a New York City subway car. (Luces de Nueva York/Juan Alberto Vazquez via Storyful)

“It’s so important for people to get a fair shake in our justice system, to be able to afford the most rigorous defense that they can and not just rely on a public defender that’s overworked,” Wells said.

He and his sister Heather Wilson launched the site in 2015 as a Christian alternative to GoFundMe, which he said is too quick to shut down campaigns that don’t fit an agenda.

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“We’re not just going to censor people we disagree with, and there are campaigns on GiveSendGo that we disagree with,” Wells said. “If it’s something that’s legal in the United States, then typically we’ll allow it.”

There are two caveats. The site doesn’t allow fundraising for abortions or gender transitioning for minors.

Daniel Penny in a suit escorted by two NYPD officers outside the 5th Precinct in Manhattan.

Daniel Penny leaves the NYPD’s 5th Precinct May 12, 2023. Penny is charged in the death of subway rider Jordan Neely. (Julia Bonavita/Fox News Digital/Fox News)

The site has hosted many controversial campaigns, including a legal defense fund for Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted of murdering two men amid protests and riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

GiveSendGo also permitted fundraisers for accused Proud Boys and defendants charged with participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.

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The company’s most successful campaign to date was “Freedom Convoy 2022,” which raised $10 million to support Canadian trucker-led blockades and protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and social restrictions.

Critics say the Christian crowdfunding site has become a platform for White nationalists and bigots, but Wells says 99% of fundraisers are launched by people rallying behind their communities after a tragedy.

Jacob Wells on Fox & Friends

Screengrab of GiveSendGo CFO and co-founder Jacob Wells appearing on “Fox & Friends” to discuss the “Freedom Convoy 2022” campaign. (Fox News / Fox News)

“We don’t think it’s our responsibility to be judge and jury,” he said of censoring some campaigns “to appease a segment of society that just gets offended at everything.”

As a Navy veteran, Wells said he has too much respect for the men and women who have fought for freedom in this country.

“It’s in the conflict of ideas, even extreme ideas, that we actually get to the truth,” he added.

A unique component of GiveSendGo is that it has a prayer team, and a member is paired with each campaign owner.

“Our mission in GiveSendGo is not just to deliver money but the hope we have in God and Jesus,” he said.

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The company has hosted over 500,000 campaigns, raised approximately $200 million and is available in over 80 countries.

By contrast, GoFundMe, which was launched in 2010, has raised $25 billion in 19 countries, according to its website.

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