Above: Editorial: Trump’s ‘beautiful wall’ is a vanity project and nothing more. Democrats should treat it as such:

[T]his debate isn’t, and never has been, about the best way to secure the border. It’s about the symbolism of the wall. To Trump, it’s the embodiment of his Fortress America approach to the rest of the world; to the more rational among us, it’s a terrible signal that the world’s greatest superpower has a bunker mentality.

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It was just a few short years ago that many of the nativist white nationalist Republicans in the Arizona legislature jumped on board the bandwagon of the “We Build The Wall, Inc.” GoFundMe brainchild of creator Brian Kolfage and former Trump advisor (and current insurrectionist) Steve Bannon. They promised they would complete Trump’s “vanity wall” on the border that Donald Trump failed to complete.

Like everything else associated with Donald Trump, it was all just a grift to relieve the right-wing rubes of the money in their wallets and to make these grifters rich. A group raised over $20 million to ‘build the wall.’ Now its supporters want answers.:

The now-infamous border wall GoFundMe was conceived by Purple Heart recipient Brian Kolfage, who wrote at the time he was upset by “too many illegals . . . taking advantage of the United States taxpayers,” and the “political games from both parties” when it came to border security. Kolfage, a triple amputee, pressed onward despite falling short of his $1 billion goal — launching a nonprofit to build portions of the wall on private land for a “fraction of what it costs the government.”

While the majority of donors continue to believe in Kolfage’s efforts, the nonprofit’s clandestine operations and assurances of progress are insufficient for others. Some have taken to social media, seeking photos, videos — anything — for evidence they aren’t being misled.

A couple of years later, Leaders of ‘We Build The Wall’ Crowdfunding Campaign Charged with Defrauding Donors; More Than $25 Million Was Raised Despite Red Flags:

“As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction,” said the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) in an August 20, 2020 press release announcing the unsealing of an indictment charging four individuals for their roles in connection with an online crowdfunding campaign known as “We Build the Wall” that raised more than $25 million. Those charged include triple-amputee war veteran Brian Kolfage, “the founder and public face of We Build the Wall,” and Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist. The indictment alleges that the defendants “orchestrated a scheme” causing We Build the Wall “to mislead donors, promising them repeatedly that ‘100 percent’ of the funds would be used for construction of a wall and that KOLFAGE, in particular, would take no salary or compensation from the new organization.” Instead, the defendants “worked together to misappropriate hundreds of thousands of dollars of those funds for their own personal benefit,” per the indictment.

[A]ccording to the indictment: “To induce donors to donate to the campaign, KOLFAGE and BANNON…repeatedly and falsely assured the public that KOLFAGE would ‘not take a penny in salary or compensation’ and that ‘100% of the funds raised . . . will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose’ because, as BANNON publicly stated, ‘we’re a volunteer organization.’” “Those representations were false,” the indictment continues, stating: “In truth…the defendants, collectively received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor funds from We Build the Wall, which they each used in a manner inconsistent with the organization’s public representations.” The indictment asserts that Kolfage “covertly took” more than $350,000 in donated funds for his personal use, and Bannon received over $1 million (which was routed indirectly from We Build the Wall through a different nonprofit organization under Bannon’s control). Bannon allegedly used at least some of the $1 million to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses. By using shell companies, fake invoices, and sham “vendor” arrangements, among other devices, the defendants schemed to conceal payments to Kolfage from We Build the Wall’s funds, according to the indictment, which claims that Kolfage, working primarily with Bannon and Badolato, “reached a secret agreement” whereby Kolfage would be “covertly paid” $100,000 upfront and then $20,000 per month. The indictment claims that Kolfage used the allegedly misappropriated funds for home renovations, a luxury SUV, boat payments, a golf cart, jewelry, and cosmetic surgery, among other personal expenses, “to fund his lavish lifestyle.”

The “We Build The Wall” fundraising scandal had direct ties to the Arizona Legislature. Republican lawmakers rallied behind a bill to support the questionable campaign and allow them to build on private property. Arizona lawmakers backed ‘We Build The Wall,’ prior to nonprofit organizers accused of fraud:

Arizona House Majority Leader Warren Petersen pushed a bill, HB 2084, to support the We Build the Wall campaign and allow them to start construction on private property.

The bill, however, did not make it through the state Senate.

No Arizona lawmakers have been accused of being involved in the alleged fraudulent activity with We Build The Wall, or knowing what was going on.

The latest grift to build Trump’s “vanity wall” on the border comes from the nativist white nationalist Republicans in the Arizona legislature who want to use your tax dollars without your consent for their fever dream.

Howard Fischer reports, Arizona’s GOP-led Legislature votes to spend state money to build border wall:

Republican lawmakers are ready to use state funds to build what they’re calling a wall along portions of Arizona’s border with Mexico.

The question that remains is how much they’re willing to spend.

The Senate voted 16-12 on Wednesday to allocate $700 million to “administer and manage the construction of a physical border fence.”

However, the critical 16th vote for Senate Bill 1032 came from Sen. Tyler Pace, R-Mesa. And he made it clear that while he supports the concept, he won’t vote for a final budget that includes an allocation that large.

“That would be a misuse of state funds,” Pace said.

Way to go, genius … you got that right!

These same assholes just spent the past month holding up funding for public education that they had already appropriated last year as leverage for expanding school vouchers this year in furtherance of their never-ending war on public education. But they are quick to spend your tax dollars on Trump’s “vanity wall.” To paraphrase Ukraine’s ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya to Russia’s ambassador at the U.N. the other night, “There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, assholes.”

And there was the Arizona Senate’s GQP sham “fraudit” that taxpayers are on the hook for, also without their consent.

On Thursday, the House voted 31-28 to approve an identical bill — but with $150 million, not $700 million.

“I would like to spend $700 million,” said [nativist Troll Boy] Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, the sponsor of House Bill 2317 [but of course]. But he told Capitol Media Services that his experience in the Legislature — he was first elected in 2006 — convinces him it’s not politically possible.

Takeway: 16 long miserable years, a clearer case for hard term limits there has never been.

Anyway, Kavanagh said, the $150 million would be enough to build about 20 miles of wall. And he said if it works out, lawmakers can approve more in future years.

Even that may be too much for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, whose proposed state budget includes $50 million for “physical barriers” at the border.

The debate about spending state money follows the decision by President Joe Biden, shortly after taking office last year, to suspend further construction of the wall being built by his predecessor.

Under former President Donald Trump, about 450 miles of border barrier was erected, including 226 miles in Arizona, much of which replaced existing barricades and fencing. Of Trump’s plan, which did not cover the entire 372-mile border with Mexico, about 18 miles remain uncompleted.

Hence the $150 million for 20 miles in HB 2317. And yet Troll Boy says he wants another $550 million of your tax dollars, for what exactly? To line the pockets of the contractors who will build Trump’s “vanity wall,” like he does for the private prison industry? Is there a kickback involved here? Curious minds want to know.

Is this why insurrectionist Steve Bannon recently bought a home in Oro Valley, to continue his grift? Political Notebook: Steve Bannon buys home in Oro Valley: “Right-wing political figure Steve Bannon has bought a home in Oro Valley, documents filed with the Pima County Recorder show.”

Bannon is moving not far from his first big grift, the Biosphere 2. Trump’s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon Ran a Massive Climate Experiment:

Twenty-five years ago, a New Agey-experiment called Biosphere 2 set out to recreate life on another planet with eight people locked in a giant glass habitat. But it ended bitterly with allegations of financial fraud, scientific goof-ups, and a power struggle outside the dome.

Since then, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has determined it will do some additional work, including completing drainage projects to prevent flooding, disposing of materials not required to complete work, and closing “small gaps that remain open from prior construction activities and remediating incomplete gates.”

Precise locations for the projects have not been identified, although the department said some will be in Arizona.

That leaves the question of what Arizona might do on its own, and how much in tax dollars it is willing to spend.

Our cowardly governor, speaking to reporters Thursday, sidestepped a question of whether $700 million was too much.

“We’re negotiating right now with the Legislature on the physical barriers where Arizona can build that,” Ducey said. “And I’m confident we’ll be able to get those resources.”

Kavanagh said any state dollars would have to be used on land already owned by the state. But he said they also could be used to build a wall on private property with the consent of the owners.

However, there is no border wall on the vast Tohono O’odham Nation, and that area is beyond the reach of the state.

Aside from the $50 million Ducey wants for barriers, his budget request also includes $25 million for the state Department of Emergency and Military Affairs. State law allows that department to use money for preventing human trafficking and illegal entry, including administering and managing construction of a physical border fence.

“I do think Arizona is going to do everything it can in its power,” Ducey said about securing the border. “I don’t think any other state in the nation is doing more.”

He said it isn’t just about physical barriers.

Ducey said the state is giving money to communities to enhance law enforcement and prosecution of people who are in the country without legal status and violate other state laws. The state has deployed about 200 Guard soldiers to the border in support roles such as monitoring surveillance cameras, analyzing data and providing administrative support to local law enforcement.

That sounds like a big “fuck off!” to pissing away $700 million in your tax dollars on a Trump “vanity wall” on the border, when we have so many other vital priorities that need funding that Republicans in the legislature ignore.

But will the cowardly Gov. Ducey really veto this bill?




 

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