A Florida official just confirmed that the state is pursuing an active criminal investigation against “The Trump Wall” on GoFundMe’s social welfare corporation named WeBuildTheWall Inc., its president Brian Kolfage, and Kris Kobach, a GOP candidate for US Senate in Kansas serving as its paid general counsel, and on its board as a director.
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Previously, this journalist reported that WeBuildTheWall Inc. was under investigation by the department’s civil authorities.
In mid-July, this reporter sent the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs public records request for “copies of any notices, subpoenas, or any other records pertinent to the investigation of WeBuildtheWall Inc.”
The request was forwarded to its Office of General Counsel, whose senior attorney Rob F. Summers replied (images below):
“Your public records request was forwarded to the Office of General Counsel for handling.”
“The records you requested are exempt from disclosure pursuant to s. 119.071(2)(c)1., F.S. (Active Criminal Investigation).”
When questioned directly, a department spokesman would only reiterate the legal reasons for the denial and stated, “We cannot comment on ongoing investigations.”
That means that the state of Florida’s criminal investigation into the wall charity is now in the hands of the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement.
WeBuildTheWall’s lawyer and board were provided with the public record evidence of a criminal investigation yesterday.
They have not produced any evidence to the contrary, and its president Brian Kolfage at first refused to comment. This morning he sent a flat denial to the DC Report’s David Cay Johnson, despite having seen the irrefutable email evidence from Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that they’re being investigated.
Previous records requests from this journalist exposed that the WeBuildTheWall group had given factually incorrect statements to the agency about the true composition of its board of directors and had just completed a raffle with a mandatory entry fee which the agency’s lawyers noted could appear to violate Florida’s anti-gambling law.
Since that time, Kolfage’s charity did erect a small, half-mile-long segment of fencing on private land in the town of Sunland Park, New Mexico, which stopped temporarily when it was found violating local zoning laws and an international treaty.
Yet, construction resumed after the city issued a criminal citation to the landowner when WeBuildTheWall used its social media accounts to bully local officials, resulting in death threats to its smalltown mayor.
The project also includes an encroachment on federal land, resulting in the International Boundary and Water Commission forcing the private border fence to keep its doors open, except at night.
Recently, surveyors sent by the Mexican government determined that the fence’s construction fill sits on the wrong side of the border and the encroaching materials will have to be removed, which may prove difficult to accomplish.
The Trump Administration hasn’t built a single mile of border fencing itself after thirty months of trying.
This past January, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously offered only $1 to Trump to pay for his border wall fantasy. Kolfage took that as a sign to show up at her DC office with a camera crew from conservative website The Daily Caller in tow, looking to collect a buck. He failed.
Just ten days ago, WeBuildTheWall hosted a three-day political event at their fence, which featured a political speech by Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son.
Also in attendance were former White House senior advisor Steve Bannon and another former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and the president of Citizens United, David Bossie, whom the Trump 2020 Campaign recently disavowed in a very public way, rounded out the list of right-wing political celebrities at the fete.
Late last week, two other disturbing stories broke about WeBuildTheWall Inc, one which hints at a potential Senate ethics violation and another which looks like another illegal use of the social welfare organization by an insider.
Lastly, The Washington Post reports that Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) surprisingly held up one of President Trump’s appointees who required Senate approval in an effort to urge the Army Corps of Engineers to hire Fisher Industries, the North Dakota-based company who built Kolfage’s half-mile fencing out of hundred-year steel.
It’s unknown if WeBuildTheWall has anything to do with the Republican senator’s efforts, as an exhibition or otherwise.
Sources on the Hill familiar with the story believe that the Senate Ethics panel would investigate the situation carefully if notified by a complaint.
Additionally, WeBuildTheWall General Counsel Kris Kobach made headlines in The Daily Beast for appearing to break numerous federal election laws by abusing his role as the General Counsel to WeBuildTheWall by using its email list to solicit campaign donations in a poorly spelled message from the Harvard-trained lawyer which read:
“I’m want to represent you in the United States States the same way I’m going to continue to represent WeBuildTheWall as General Counsel.”
That campaign solicitation drew an FEC complaint from the watchdog group Common Cause. Kobach is paid for his role as a lawyer for the charity and on its Board of Directors as of July 15th, 2019, months after the group falsely claimed he was serving when he was not.
Now, WeBuildTheWall’s private effort to build a wall could result in serious consequences for failing to abide by the letter of the law in its home state
Disabled veteran Brian Kolfage is incorporated in Florida and operates his charity out of a post-office box store in a Panama City Beach strip mall nearby his million-dollar home in Miramar Beach, Fl.
Intentionally filing false statements to Florida’s charity regulator is a third-degree felony, and a conviction could result in up to five years in prison.
On this past Sunday afternoon, I contacted Brian Kolfage, newly named corporate treasurer Dustin Stockton, his spokeswoman, and former Breitbart personality Jennifer Lawrence, and his lawyer Todd McMurtry of Hemmer, DeFrank, Wessels to specifically question about the criminal investigation in a 2500 word email seeking comment on all aspects of this story.
McMurtry asked for a copy of the public record evidence cited in this story and reviewed it, but didn’t reply after having previously described this reporter’s work as “meticulous.”
WeBuildTheWall was asked if it believed that this wall project and publicity just sixteen miles from this weekend’s hate crime in El Paso, Texas may have proved an incitement to the shooter. I also asked if Kolfage and his associates or any of its agents or property were being used as part of a federal lobbying effort for Fisher Industries.
Lastly, I wanted to know if Kobach or his legal counsel thought that Kobach’s apparently illegal use of WeBuildTheWall for his political campaign as its director and general counsel represented a breach of duty to the corporation and if he would take action to sever the relationship.
Six and a half hours later, Brian Kolfage personally sent me back an official written statement on behalf of We Build The Wall Inc. which indicated that “we do not speak” with journalists reporting stories based upon official sources, before issuing a blanket denial without evidence earlier today.
Here is the public records request: