When we asked Brian Kolfage last month to explain how his group We Build the Wall had spent the $25 million it had raised, plus address concerns of corruption when the private sector takes over the building of border walls, he scoffed.
“How is there corruption?” Kolfage, a decorated Iraq War veteran, told ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. “It’s privatized. It’s not federal money.”
As to the money, he said those details would come in the fall when the nonprofit filed the required tax forms.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors indicted Kolfage; We Build the Wall board member Steve Bannon, the former adviser to President Donald Trump; and two others involved in the nonprofit, charging that they looted the charity for personal gain.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said they falsely told donors that all the money raised by the group would go toward construction but then directed a sizable chunk to themselves.
“While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, 38, 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,” she added in a news release.
More than $350,000 was allegedly routed to Kolfage, which he spent on, among other things, home renovations, a triple-engined outboard boat and a luxury SUV. Bannon, 66, through an unnamed nonprofit, received more than $1 million, according to the indictment. The other two charged are Andrew Badolato, a venture capitalist, and Timothy Shea, who is married to We Build The Wall’s chief financial officer. Bannon pleaded not guilty in federal court on Thursday.