Steve Bannon arrested on fraud charges

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ASPartOfMe
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20 Aug 2020, 10:50 am

Steve Bannon, three others charged with fraud in border wall fundraising campaign

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New York federal prosecutors on Thursday charged President Donald Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon and three others with defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars as part of a fundraising campaign purportedly aimed at supporting Trump's border wall.

Bannon, 66, was arrested on a boat Thursday off the Eastern coast of Connecticut according to a law enforcement official. He will make his initial court appearance in New York later Thursday, according to the US attorney's office. Bill Burck, an attorney for Bannon, declined to comment.

The four men are indicted for allegedly using hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to an online crowdfunding campaign called We Build the Wall for personal expenses, among other things. Bannon and another defendant, Brian Kolfage, promised donors that the campaign, which ultimately raised more than $25 million, was "a volunteer organization" and that "100% of the funds raised...will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose," according to the indictment unsealed Thursday.

But instead, according to prosecutors, Bannon, through a non-profit under his control, used more than $1 million from We Build the Wall to "secretly" pay Kolfage and cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bannon's personal expenses. And Kolfage, according to the charges, used more than $350,000 of the donations for his personal use.

Bannon, Kolfage and the other two defendants, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
"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," Acting Manhattan US 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."
The indictment describes a slight-of-hand perpetrated by the defendants on donors to the We Build the Wall group. Within days of launching the group, Kolfage, along with Bannon and Badolato, made a "secret agreement" in which Kolfage would be paid "$100k upfront [and] then 20 [per] month," according to the indictment. To disguise the transfer of the money to Kolfage, Bannon agreed to pass the payments through a non-profit he controlled, according to prosecutors, and in February 2019, Bannon and Badolato directed the non-profit to pay Kolfage $100,000 from We Build the Wall.
In February, CNN reported that We Build the Wall had communicated with the administration on plans to build a wall along the southern border and donate it to the US government.

Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications, declined to comment on the indictment Thursday morning.

A law enforcement official says officials at Justice Department headquarters were briefed in advance of the indictment of Bannon and others, but didn't say when.

Justice officials have said Attorney General William Barr's June ouster of Geoffrey Berman as Manhattan US Attorney was not related to the handling of any particular case.

We Build the Wall controversy
We Build the Wall Inc., a group founded by Air Force veteran Kolfage, gained national attention after raising millions of dollars in a GoFundMe campaign, and launching two private wall projects in New Mexico and Texas. Those projects were constructed on private land -- a strategy that largely shielded them from government intervention.

Kolfage has come under scrutiny for his inflammatory rhetoric and promises. In the past, he's been accused by some of his donors as overpromising and underdelivering. Other allegations against him include being clandestine in his operations and unwilling to disclose certain logistics. He often uses his Twitter account to spar with or confront liberal critics. In the past, Kolfage has defended himself against criticism.

He previously told CNN that his group is a "game-changer for border security" and is "trying to make America safer."


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21 Aug 2020, 1:35 am

Old wine in a new bottle. Bannon invented a new variant of selling the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Wall is a government public works project covered by the tax payer. So why would private folks have to raise money to build parts of it in the first place? Sounds like a scam from the get go. Like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Wall is not privately owned.

Its not like...the service I offer on MY website.

Which is selling space on Trump's wall as- the worlds biggest billboard... for advertising!

For MUCH cheaper than the standard price per square foot on a standard road side billboard...I can have your product or service advertised on the side of Trump's wall for all to see! In fact... if you act now you can get the pick of as much of the 1000 mile long wall for your message as you want! But you better act now before more advertising space gets snapped up! Thousands of acres of space is still available! But it's going fast. :mrgreen:



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21 Aug 2020, 2:00 am

That's a hoot! Sure, sure, Trump only hires the best people! All that Trump has accomplished is to prove that he's a grifter who surrounds himself with grifters. I've read that Erik Prince, the lowlife who runs the mercenary firm, Blackwater and brother of Ditzy DeVoss, is part of the same ugly scam. As I recall, it was some wingnut veteran who got his legs blown off in Iraq who started this particular "patriotic movement" to build the wall. Well, legs or not, I'm ready to say this particular vet is a G*ddamn phony!


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21 Aug 2020, 2:08 am

I am shocked - truly *shocked* - that a man of such impeccable personal integrity and a reputation for uncompromising honesty and transparency could be involved in any such illicit dealings...


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21 Aug 2020, 4:28 am

This whole thing confuses me. How hard would it have been to say "yeah, we're giving this guy a salary", instead of beating hard on the drum of not paying anyone a salary, and then shadily move money around in order to pay out a big fat salary in secret?


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21 Aug 2020, 8:07 am

GGPViper wrote:
I am shocked - truly *shocked* - that a man of such impeccable personal integrity and a reputation for uncompromising honesty and transparency could be involved in any such illicit dealings...
Whaddaya talkin about?

I had nothing to do with it...


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21 Aug 2020, 8:22 am

"Steve Bannon and his pals were only interested in stealing money from MAGA-dopes."

Source:
This Alternet Article.

Speaking with co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the political analyst was unsparing in his criticism of the "We Build the Wall" organizers who ripped off supporters of the president to finance their lavish lifestyles.

"I mean, it's a stunning record, criminal enterprise", the MSNBC regular began.  "You know people have to have talked about the Trumps looking like a mob family for a long time.  It's looking more like not just a mob family but a family full of stupid mobsters."

"You look at the way they set this thing up, this Bannon enterprise, they were asking people to get caught", he continued.  "They told donors they were going to put 100 percent of the money into the cause, building the wall.  No charity would make that claim -- a real charitable operation.  You might say you're going to be efficient with the use of funds.  We never say 100 percent of your dollars go towards this cause, there's no charity on this Earth that meets that standard which opens them up to legal liability"... (more)


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21 Aug 2020, 10:58 pm

Judge Andrew Napolitano explains ...

Bannon's charity *WE BUILD THE WALL* promised "not a penny of charity money would go to administration".

Bannon is charged with fraudulently funneling the charity money though a third party and back to himself.


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21 Aug 2020, 11:09 pm

If you're interested in the legal side of it and an analysis of the indictment, have a look at the following which gives a relatively unbiased overview (first 48 minutes or so):


An interesting case, indeed.


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21 Aug 2020, 11:41 pm

Fnord wrote:
[color=black]"Steve Bannon and his pals were only interested in stealing money from MAGA-dopes."


In the Star War's universe if you choose to ally yourself with the dark side then deceit is one of the things you will expect to experience from your own kind.

Or to invoke the time honoured cliche - there is no honour among thieves and crooks.



Brictoria
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22 Aug 2020, 9:35 pm

Another (shorter) overview of the charges:


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22 Aug 2020, 10:58 pm

Brictoria wrote:
Another (shorter) overview of the charges:


They're guiltier than Hell. Even if there was any sort of political motivation to this, it only adds to the hilarity to sending these sketchy creeps who take advantage of real right wing nuts to prison.


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cyberdad
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23 Aug 2020, 1:00 am

Lets just cut the waffle. Bannon was always a dodgy character with extremist right wing views. That he is also greedy and selfish (and doesn't care about his supporters) is hardly a shocking revelation ,



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23 Aug 2020, 2:57 am

cyberdad wrote:
Lets just cut the waffle. Bannon was always a dodgy character with extremist right wing views. That he is also greedy and selfish (and doesn't care about his supporters) is hardly a shocking revelation ,


I couldn't agree more.


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24 Aug 2020, 2:03 pm

Needs to be tar and feathered,run out of town on a rail.


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24 Aug 2020, 6:28 pm

Misslizard wrote:
Needs to be tar and feathered,run out of town on a rail.


Hopefully that rail leads right into prison.


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