Prosecutors have charged an Air Force veteran with conspiring with Stephen K. Bannon — President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist — to defraud donors to a fundraising effort for a US-Mexico border wall.
Brian Kolfage, a conservative activist who lost three limbs in Iraq and founded and publicized the “We Build the Wall” fundraising movement, was charged with filing a false tax return in federal court in Florida. Prosecutors charged in an indictment that Kolfage reported on his 2019 tax return to the IRS that he earned just over $63,000 in net income and failed to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars deposited into his personal bank account from “We Build the Wall” and other sources.
Federal prosecutors in New York charged Bannon, Kolfage, and two others last year with defrauding campaign donors. The campaign received public support from some of Trump’s supporters and raised more than $25 million from hundreds of thousands of donors. Prosecutors argued in that case that the men lied when they said they would not accept compensation from the campaign.
Kolfage and Bannon had defended themselves against those charges, claiming that the indictment was politically motivated and intended to discredit supporters of Trump, who campaigned on a promise of a US-Mexico border wall. Trump pardoned Bannon in January, and Bannon has since fought to get the lawsuit against him officially dismissed. The Manhattan United States Attorney’s Office is requesting a “administrative” dismissal of Bannon’s lawsuit, which would end the litigation against him permanently but would not remove his name from the docket. Trump did not grant amnesty to Kolfage or the other defendants.
Bannon was not convicted in the new case, and his name is not included in the indictment. His pardon is limited to federal charges, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has been weighing the possibility of prosecuting him on state charges.
Kolfage’s latest charge is set for a court hearing on May 27, according to court records.
Kolfage’s attorney did not respond immediately to a request for comment via email.