PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The "We Build The Wall" fundraising scandal has direct ties to the Arizona Legislature. Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers rallied behind a bill to support the questionable campaign and allow them to build on private property.
President Donald Trump's former chief advisor Steve Bannon and three others were arrested Thursday, accused of misusing donations to We Build the Wall to buy cars, jewelry, a boat and other luxury items.
President Donald Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was pulled from a yacht and arrested Thursday on allegations that he and three associates ripped off donors trying to fund a southern border wall, making him the latest in a long list of Trump allies to be charged with a crime.
"What the allegation is - is that this organization promised that every single dollar would be going to, to build the wall," said political consultant Marcus Dell'Artino. "Actual construction of the wall and nobody would be getting paid, and the indictment paints a very different picture of hundreds of thousands of dollars being siphoned off into these guys' personal paychecks."
One of the board members of We Build The Wall is former Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling, who was not charged with any wrongdoing. But the Arizona connection doesn't stop there. Arizona House Majority Leader Warren Petersen pushed a bill to support the We Build the Wall campaign and allow them to start construction on private property.
State Rep. Diego Rodriguez, a Democrat from Laveen, claims there were a number of red flags with We Build The Wall group from its activities in other states. He said they warned Republican leaders of potential problems, but the bill passed through the House in February, along party lines.
"There were several allegations at that time about what was being said in terms of their marketing, and how they were actually operating on the ground," said Rodriguez. "We brought all that up on the floor during debate."
The bill, however, did not make it through the state Senate.
"Obviously, that's inappropriate. I would never support anything illegal," said Petersen. "Fraud is bad, but I still think allowing people to secure their property is good policy. I'll keep fighting for securing our border."
A group that raised millions of dollars in a GoFundMe campaign says it has broken ground on a project to build its own stretch of border wall on private property.
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.
We Build The Wall has raised more than $25 million since its inception. GoFundMe has stopped raising money for the group.