Steve Bannon, who served as President Trump’s chief strategist in the White House and was the former executive chairman of Breibart News, was arrested today on the charge of defrauding donors. Bannon, along with four others, were in charge of an online fundraising platform that promised 100% of the money would go to the federal government to help build President Trump’s border wall. Prosecutors claim that Steve Bannon, along with Andrew Badolato, Timothy Shea, and Brian Kolfage used the money for themselves instead, and used the non-profit as a shell company. They were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, charges that come with a maximum of twenty years in prison each.
Prosecutors charged Bannon for taking $1 million for personal expenses and to pay Kolfage. The online fundraising platform, which raised $25 million, said on their websites that if the fundraising goal was not met, they would refund every single penny.”
Kolfage, who originally started the online campaign in December 2018, raised $17 million in one week. Because of the sum, the crowdfunding platform had Kolfage start a nonprofit for the money, which led to Bannon and Badolato starting We Build the Wall Inc. According to the indictment, the nonprofit changed its purpose and said the money would go to privately constructing the border wall, and they promised all money would go to construction and no where else.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement “As alleged, 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. 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.”