Politics

Former White House adviser to Trump charged with fraud in connection with border wall fundraising

PHOTO CREDITS: EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AP  

Steve Bannon, a former White House adviser to President Donald Trump, was one of four people charged by federal prosecutors with fraud in connection with a border wall fundraising effort that raised more than $25 million, officials said Thursday. ~

Bannon, who served as adviser to Donald Trump’s administration until August 2017, was arrested in addition to three others who were charged with playing a role in the scheme: Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea. All four men were arrested on Thursday and are likely to make their first court appearances later Friday. “As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction,” acting U.S Attorney Audrey Strauss said. ~

The charges were contained in an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court that alleged Bannon received more than $1 million US himself (USA Today). According to federal prosecutors, Kolfage “repeatedly and falsely assured the public that he would ‘not take a penny in salary or compensation’ and that ‘100% of the funds raised … will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose.’ Those representations were false,” prosecutors said, asserting that hundreds of thousands of dollars were secretly routed to the four men. Kolfage began raising money through the GoFundMe website in December 2018. The campaign, according to court documents, drew early scrutiny as questions emerged about Kolfage’s background. GoFundMe suspended it shortly after and warned Kolfage it would not return the funds raised unless he identified a nonprofit group that would receive the money. ~

Attorney General William Barr was briefed in advance of the case involving Bannon, a law enforcement official said. President Trump told reporters Thursday he was surprised at the development and had no knowledge of the project. “Well, I feel very badly,” he said. “I haven’t been dealing with him for a long period of time (CBC). ~

ARTICLE: CARSON CHOATE

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