Bannon’s Build The Wall Paid CEO $20K a Month Despite Saying ‘Not a Penny’

The CEO of former Donald Trump campaign adviser Steve Bannon’s WeBuildTheWall organization received $20,000 monthly payments and a $100,000 upfront payment despite publicly stating that he would “personally not take a penny of compensation” for his work with the nonprofit, according to court documents.

An indictment against Bannon detailed how a figure referred to as “Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1” told “Unindicted Co-Conspirator 2” in text messages sent on or around February 19, 2019, that his salary “was $100k upfront then 20 [per] month.”

“During the course of this conspiracy, Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1 received over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in secret salary payments from WeBuildTheWall, Inc., despite the representations made in WeBuildTheWall, Inc.’s fundraising solicitations that he was not taking a single penny,” the indictment read.

The “Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1” can be identified as WeBuildtheWall, Inc. founder Brian Kolfage because the indictment mentions that this person shared a statement in an update to its crowdfunding website page on or about January 11, 2019, that they “will personally not take a penny of compensation from these donations.” News reports have attributed this January 11, 2019, statement to Kolfage.

Bannon turned himself in to authorities on Thursday after being charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg’s office with two felony counts of money laundering, two felony counts of conspiracy and one felony count of a scheme to defraud. In a release, Bannon and WeBuildtheWall, Inc. were accused of conducting “a year-long fundraising scheme in which they defrauded thousands of donors across the country out of more than $15 million to line their own pockets, and then laundered the proceeds to further advance and conceal the fraud.”

CEO Details in Bannon Indictment
Steve Bannon, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, departs criminal court after his arraignment in New York State Supreme Court on September 8 in New York City. Bannon turned himself in to authorities on Thursday after being charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg’s office with two felony counts of money laundering, two felony counts of conspiracy and one felony count of a scheme to defraud.DAVID DEE DELGADO/GETTY IMAGES

The “We Build the Wall” fundraiser was meant to help former President Donald Trump with his plans for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Bannon has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The indictment listed specific $20,000 monthly payments that were transferred to Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1, or Kolfage, from other entities.


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“On or about March 7, 2019, Bannon caused Unindicted Co-Conspirator Entity 1 to transfer $20,000 to Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1,” the indictment read. In another instance on or about June 6, 2019, “Entity 1 transferred $20,000 to Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1.”

Kolfage pleaded guilty earlier this year to wire fraud conspiracy and three tax-related charges in connection to WeBuildtheWall, Inc. While he received those repeated $20,000 payments, his promise of not being paid “was a material part of WeBuildTheWall, Inc.’s fundraising effort,” the indictment said.

“In text messages exchanged on or about December 30, 2018, between Bannon and a high-level WeBuildTheWall, Inc. affiliate and unindicted co-conspirator known to the Grand Jury (‘Unindicted Co-Conspirator 2’), Unindicted Co-Conspirator 2 stated that if Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1 were to promise that he would not take a salary that it would be ‘the most talked about media narrative ever!’ In text messages exchanged on or about January 11, 2019, Unindicted Co-Conspirator 2 stated to Bannon that this promise ‘removes all self interest taint on this’ and it ‘gives [Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1] saint hood,'” it added.

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