Bringing it into focus
The day after the Steve Bannon indictment, I read a post claiming that:
- The We Build the Wall GoFundMe site didn’t meet its goal, so funds were promised to be returned.
- The defendants offered donors an “opt-in” transfer to a new We Build the Wall 501(c)(4) entity, and refunded to those who didn’t opt in.
- The new We Build the Wall 501(c)(4) entity didn’t promise that there would be no compensation for those running it.
According to the indictment, at least the third point is false:
To get the GoFundMe contributions transferred to We Build the Wall, it was essentially necessary to do a second fundraising campaign because donors would have to “opt in” — i.e., they would have to agree to the transfer.
To persuade donors to do that, the accused schemers solemnly vowed in corporate by-laws, GoFundMe website announcements, social-messaging posts, and other assertions that 100 percent of the contributions would go to wall construction. Contributors were assured that Kolfage would “not take a penny of compensation from these donations,” and would “take no salary.” Bannon is said to have publicly guaranteed, on several occasions, “I did this kind of as a volunteer” and “we’re a volunteer organization.”
Nevertheless, the indictment alleges that the defendants planned to and did divert funds for their own benefit …