Bannon and Associates Arrested

The best people.

Via WaPo: Stephen Bannon, three others charged with defrauding donors to online fundraising campaign for border wall

Federal prosecutors in New York on Thursday unsealed criminal charges against Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, and three other men they alleged defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors using an online crowdfunding campaign that was advertised as raising money to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

[…]

Prosecutors alleged that Bannon and Kolfage along with two others — Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea — routed payments from the crowdfunding campaign through the nonprofit and another shell company and disguised them with fake invoices to help keep their personal pay secret. All four were arrested Thursday and are expected to make court appearances later in the day

Who possibly could have foreseen that a crowdfunded wall-building fund would be fraudulent?

And, really, who could have seen Steve Bannon being in the middle of such a scheme?

In a 23-page indictment, prosecutors described how he and others in December 2018 launched the wall-building fundraising campaign to immediate success, raising almost $17 million in the first week — money they claimed would be given to the federal government. But with success came scrutiny, and GoFundMe, the site the group had been using to collect funds, suspended the campaign and warned Kolfage the donations would be refunded if he could not identify a legitimate nonprofit to which they would be transferred.

It is grifters all the way down with this crowd (although as the article has Trump and the White House distancing themselves).

I commented on the GoFundMe attempt back in December: Numeracy and the Wall.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    If schadenfreude were physically harmful, I’d be dead right now.

    News of this is conspicuously absent from the social media feeds of all my conservative friends who were trumpeting praises of Kolfage and his scam. I tried to tell them, really, I did, but they insisted on sending their hard-earned dollars to what anyone with three functioning synapses in their head immediately realized was complete bullshit.

    Oh well, live and learn. I’m sure there’s some Trumpist fool somewhere whining about how Bannon et al. are victims of a Deep State railroading.

    29
  2. Teve says:

    I confess I haven’t looked into the paperwork but a lot of memes are going around saying that these people stole from a cancer charity. Can somebody confirm that or refudiate it?

    2
  3. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    I haven’t seen anything about them stealing from a cancer charity.

    It will be interesting to follow how the Trumpkins deal with this. They loved Bannon at first–remember when he was Sarah Palin’s champion–but when Trump kicked him to the curb, they decided they hated him. At this point, they seem to have forgotten that Trump disavowed Bannon for talking to Michael Wolfe, and they’re tending to the belief that this is a made-up charge with the ultimate goal of getting Trump.

    6
  4. CSK says:

    Your horse laugh of the day: Trump says he knows nothing about Bannon’s wall-building scheme, but doesn’t approve of it on the grounds that it’s “showboating.”

    Trump accuses someone else of showboating. Let that sink in.

    Trump did say he felt “very badly” about what happened, although he was careful to emphasize that Bannon had only “a small part” in his administration “early on” and that Bannon had been involved in the campaign.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Bannon Trump’s campaign CEO and later chief strategist in the White House?

    Interesting detail: Bannon was arrested on a boat off the Connecticut coast this morning.

    11
  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mikey:

    If schadenfreude were physically harmful, I’d be dead right now.

    I will be stealing that line.

    17
  6. senyordave says:

    Interesting to see how this plays out. By the time this case starts getting ready for any thing close to a trial, Trump hopefully will be out to pasture. The question is whether or not Bannon has dirt to trade for considerations. hard to believe he doesn’t. My guess is that the after-the-election pardon negotiations will begin soon.

    3
  7. EddieInCA says:

    Manafort – Guilty
    Flynn – Guilty
    Papadapolous – Guilty
    Pinedos – Guilty
    Gates – Guilty
    Van der Zwann – Guilty
    Stone – Guilty
    Cohen – Guilty
    Nader – Guilty
    Bannon – Indicted

    So much winning.
    So much draining the swamp.

    18
  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I’m only surprised it took this long for him to get caught.

    6
  9. Jen says:

    @Teve: The meme I’ve seen is just the totality of snake oil salesmen, which includes Trump’s kid (Eric) stealing from a cancer charity. Is that what you’re referring to?

    I mean it’s all so surprising…nah…it’s not surprising AT ALL. And didn’t Trump’s “acting” DHS head show up at something praising this effort? Or was that Don Jr.? Whatever, Trump trying to distance himself from this is laughable. Good grief.

    5
  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @EddieInCA: He hires only the best people.

    4
  11. gVOR08 says:

    @EddieInCA: For comparison, here is a full list of Obama administration officials convicted of improper activities:

    9
  12. CSK says:

    Among those on the advisory board of We Build the Wall:
    Erik Prince
    Tom Tancredo
    “Sheriff” David Clarke
    Kris Kobach

    Check it out! http://www.webuildthewall.us

    10
  13. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK:

    Bannon was arrested on a boat off the Connecticut coast this morning.

    A week or so ago somebody posted a straight picture of Bannon in his leather jacket, looking like he always does, with the caption, “Steve Bannon found after being lost at sea for twelve weeks”. That man does always look like he’s been rode hard and put away wet.

    4
  14. CSK says:

    This just gets better and better. The yacht on which Bannon was busted belongs to Guo Wengui, a Chinese tycoon based out of New York, who is reputed to have ties to China’s spy agency (per the NYTimes).

    5
  15. ImProPer says:

    If I was a right-wing media personality, I would be watching my back right about now. There is a soon to be an unemployed wannabe, with immeasurable greed, and need for the spot light. I would not be surprised if it was Trump that ratted Bannon out, as the beginning of a purge.

  16. Gustopher says:

    Arrested, at sea, by the postal service.

    Kevin Costner is probably gloating, and deservedly so.

    I also think it might be the opening of Arrested Development. I hope Bannon has hired the best maritime lawyers money can buy.

    11
  17. Hal_10000 says:

    One of things this demonstrates, which we see more and more often, is how much contempt this Administration and their various thugs have for *their* supporters, least of all Democrats. They continue to think that the conservatives are a bunch of suckers they can pull money out of.

    11
  18. Kathy says:

    Sic semper white supremacists.

    2
  19. grumpy realist says:

    @Hal_10000: They’ve got pretty good evidence for believing so, no?

    (Who was it who said that every great political movement ends up dissolving into a scam and a racket?)

    4
  20. CSK says:

    He was a different person at the Harvard Business School; his classmates had a hard time believing he in his present incarnation is the guy they knew. Some of the women students found him abrasive, and were uncomfortable around him, but no one ever heard him say or do anything anti-Semitic, anti-Black, anti-Islamic, or homophobic. Very neat, very preppy-looking, and apparently quite bright, and always super-prepared for class.

    Several years ago I read a New Yorker profile of him that claimed he made a deliberate decision to turn himself into an utter slob. His reasoning seemed to be that the hoi-polloi would find him more relatable.

    6
  21. Jay L Gischer says:

    I am actually surprised by Bannon’s indictment and arrest. I didn’t figure he needed the money, after doing quite well for himself in other, more legal, ways. I also didn’t figure he’d get involved in something so transparently illegal. He has managed to leverage lots of legal scams and rackets, why do something so obviously illegal?

    6
  22. CSK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Because he thought he could get away with it. Because he’s the smartest guy in the room. Always.

    7
  23. Jen says:

    @Hal_10000:

    They continue to think that the conservatives are a bunch of suckers they can pull money out of.

    Because conservatives keep doing *exactly that.* Amanda Carpenter had a short post up on The Bulwark today that went down the list of individuals, including pieces of work like LaPierre and Jerry Falwell Jr., who have lined their own pockets, thanks to the conservative public. To modify the quote: “Fool me/fleece me once, shame on you, fool me twice/continue to fleece me, shame on me.”

    If conservatives keep falling for this…well, you can’t say that the evidence wasn’t there already.

    6
  24. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @CSK: Looking like a slob sure worked for Boris Johnson.

  25. CSK says:

    MAGA = Many Are Getting Arrested

    12
  26. JohnSF says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:
    Be fair to Johnson!
    *looks at self in astonishment*
    He maybe a mussed up slob, but even on his worst day he’s got nowhere near the pustulent, ground-in-grime, hobo on moonshine-and-meth affect of Mr. Bannon.

    7
  27. CSK says:

    @JohnSF:
    It’s Johnson’s coiffeur that disturbs me. Why the bloody hell can’t he comb his hair?

    3
  28. Barry says:

    @senyordave: “Interesting to see how this plays out. ”

    What I’m hoping is that federal fraud charges lead to both federal tax evasion charges, and corresponding state charges for both.

    6
  29. Barry says:

    @Hal_10000: “They continue to think that the conservatives are a bunch of suckers they can pull money out of.”

    Perhaps you meant ‘keen eye for reality’ 🙂

    1
  30. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Methinks both Boris and his henchman Don are trying to appeal to the Great Disgruntled.

    Just as Trump appeals to the guys who want to cheat on their wives.

    2
  31. JohnMcC says:

    @Hal_10000: “Conservative” supporters of politically shaded frauds have been part of the movement from it’s beginning. Case in point: Richard Viguerie.

    3
  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: I’ve been trying for a loooooooong time to figure out how to describe the type of dissipation that Bannon’s look carries off. Thank you! You nailed it! 😉

    1
  33. EddieInCA says:

    I just don’t get how a guy legitimately worth $50M needs to scam gullible Trumpists in such an amateurish way. Had they grifted 10-20%, and actually tried to build part of a wall, they’d have gotten away with it. But to immediately start spending on trips, boats, plastic surgery, and other lavish choices, they made it easy to get busted.

    HuffPo has a great, detailed piece on it today. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/steve-bannon-arrested-trump-supporters-build-the-wall-investigation_n_5f3ee771c5b697824f9644a1?rgm&_guc_consent_skip=1597971775

    2
  34. CSK says:

    Rick Wilson just called Bannon a “walking bilesack.”
    Perfect.

    2
  35. dmichael says:

    @Jen: I had first thought that the “Timothy Shea” arrested with these con artists was the acting DHS head. But apparently it is some clown from Colorado posing as a real estate agent who sells Trump-themed energy drinks.

  36. Lounsbury says:

    @CSK: He can, it is a look he works to maintain.

  37. CSK says:

    @Lounsbury:
    I would expect no less from an individual who inflicts the middle name “Peaches” on one of his daughters and “Apollo” on one of his sons. I realize that bizarre monikers are an affectation of British aristos and wannabe-aristos.

  38. JohnSF says:

    @CSK:
    As Lounsbury says, it’s a studied look.
    (And noticeable that of late when he wants to look “Prime Ministerial” he does drop the rumpled affectations)

    It’s partly to distance himself from the usual appearance of the typical upper class public school type; viz. David Cameron, George Osborne, Rees-Mogg.

    Partly to camouflage his monumental vanity and ambition.
    And partly because he is bloody lazy and disorganised.

    As I’ve commented before, the whole “Boris” thing is largely a public persona created for the purposes of Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson; all the biographical accounts agree he is known to close friends and family as Alexander or Alex, not Boris.
    And is politically and personally ambitious, masterful, mendacious and vengeful.

    Regarding the whole “jolly Boris” act, it’s only when you stop laughing, part with him, part at him, that you notice the knife between your shoulder-blades.

    His moves to sabotage and supplant in turn David Cameron then Theresa May were masterly; apart from the point when his grip failed and Gove torpedoed him, in the post-Cameron leadership contest.

    1
  39. Barry says:

    @EddieInCA: “I just don’t get how a guy legitimately worth $50M needs to scam gullible Trumpists in such an amateurish way. Had they grifted 10-20%, and actually tried to build part of a wall, they’d have gotten away with it. But to immediately start spending on trips, boats, plastic surgery, and other lavish choices, they made it easy to get busted.”

    IMHO, these guys:

    1) Spend it as fast as they get it.
    2) Have gotten away with soooooooooo much, for sooooooooo long, that they have utter contempt for these people.

    Remember, probably 80-90% of those who voted for Trump in 2016 will vote for him in 2020.

  40. dazedandconfused says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I am actually surprised by Bannon’s indictment and arrest. I didn’t figure he needed the money,

    Money can’t buy happiness for guys like Bannon. For him it’s about being relevant. Look at the people he invited to the picnic, Erik Prince, et al. People who wield power. He was making money for people who would owe him a favor somewhere down the line. IMO, for Bannon, the money he was putting in his own pocket was all but tangential.

    Getting caught represents a true downfall. The buddies he dragged into it now owe him but a boot in the nuts. Expect Bannon to fight this to his last breath.