Decorated veteran at center of U.S. fraud charges on border-wall fundraising

August 21, 2020, Reuters

Annotation 2020-08-24 094111(Reuters) – Brian Kolfage lost both legs and his right hand in a 2004 rocket attack in Iraq. He earned a Purple Heart and became known as one of the most severely injured U.S. service members to survive the war.

It was this reputation as a war hero – showcased particularly in conservative media – that helped him raise $27 million for President Donald Trump’s promised “wall” on the U.S. southern border, a centerpiece of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Now Kolfage is one of four defendants, including former presidential adviser Steve Bannon, named in a federal indictment alleging the group secretly diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars for their personal use. The indictment was unveiled in New York Thursday.

Last year, Kolfage told Reuters that his wall initiative stemmed from a desire to bolster American security amid an onslaught of immigrants from Mexico. “As citizens of our country, it’s our duty to do what’s right,” the former airman said.

At the time, Kolfage, 38, said his team had coordinated closely with the White House. Trump associate Kris Kobach – a former Kansas Secretary of State and attorney for Kolfage’s organization – briefed the president regularly on the effort, Kolfage said.

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