Kobach announces the closure of a group of private border walls


Jean Hanna

Associated Press file photo

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday that We Build the Wall, the scandal-ridden nonprofit that raised money to build a privately funded border wall, is closing as former Trump adviser Steve Bannon faces new charges. that he defrauded contributors to the effort.

Kobach, the Republican nominee for Kansas attorney general, remains on the We Build the Wall board of directors. He explained that his continued connection was necessary to bring an end to an organization that once had millions of contributions.

“Now you have to do an orderly shutdown of the company and there has to be an attorney involved for that to happen,” Kobach told reporters Thursday night after a Kansas Chamber of Commerce event in Olathe.

Kobach’s comments came after The Washington Post and other news outlets reported that Bannon is expected to surrender to authorities in New York prosecutors on Thursday to face an indictment that remains unsealed.

In 2020, Bannon pleaded not guilty to federal charges of defrauding We Build the Wall donors. Former President Donald Trump pardoned Bannon in his final hours in office in January 2021. Presidential pardons do not protect against state-level criminal charges.

In July, Bannon was found guilty by a federal jury of two counts of contempt of Congress. Those charges were related to his failure to comply with a subpoena issued by the US House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Kobach, who served as the group’s general counsel, said the alleged criminal conduct centered on “supposed agreements made when the case began. I came after that. They brought me here to figure out how to legally build a wall on private land.

Kobach said Thursday he was not in any legal danger and had not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Asked about his current relationship with Bannon, Kobach said he has appeared on Bannon’s show several times.

“We got to know each other quite well in the past,” Kobach said, adding that he first met Bannon when Kobach interviewed Trump to head the US Department of Homeland Security.

Federal court filings after the charges showed the organization owed Kobach at least $75,000. Last year, Kobach was still fighting unsuccessfully in court for access to the group’s funds, which were frozen when federal charges were filed.

Kelli Kee, spokeswoman for Democratic nominee for Attorney General Chris Mann, said Kobach, as legal counsel, is responsible for any illegal activity within the organization.

“They shut down the organization a long time ago,” Kee said. “I don’t think the Kansans can forget how Kobach ripped them off.”

This story was originally published September 7, 2022 9:38 p.m.

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Jonathan Shorman is the Kansas City Star’s senior political reporter, covering Kansas and Missouri politics and government. He previously covered the Kansas Statehouse for The Star and Wichita Eagle. He holds a degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.

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