Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was arrested Thursday after he and three others allegedly ripped off donors in an online scheme through his “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign. They are being charged with defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors. The four men are indicted for allegedly using hundreds of thousands of dollars from crowdfunding campaign for personal expenses, among other things.
“The defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction,” Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement.
“While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle. We thank the USPIS for their partnership in investigating this case, and we remain dedicated to rooting out and prosecuting fraud wherever we find it,” Strauss continued.
The “We Build The Wall” fundraiser raised more than $25 million.
I thought it was pretty clear. I made a promise that I would NEVER take a penny 100% of fundraising through @gofundme donations will only go towards the wall, 100% means 100% right? Board won’t see any of that money! Donations will be accountable by an audit committee as well.
— Brian Kolfage (@BrianKolfage) January 13, 2019
Kolfage is an Iraq war veteran who had both legs amputated and lost his right arm in a rocket attack.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that Trump did not support the fundraising project.
“President Trump has always felt the Wall must be a government project and that it is far too big and complex to be handled privately,” she said, adding: “President Trump has not been involved with Steve Bannon since the campaign and the early part of the Administration, and he does not know the people involved with this project.”