David Dayen writes a regular column for The American Prospect. In this post, he explains why Bannon was indicted. He and some of his friends created a website to “Build the Wall.” None of them had any engineering experience. They raised $25 million, and they paid personal expenses.

Dayen says this scam was part of a long history of grifting by con artists.

It was ironic that Bannon was taken into custody by agents from the USPS.

Dayen begins:

Author and historian Rick Perlstein (who’s doing a Prospect Zoom event with me about his new book Reaganland on Monday) wrote a famous story back in 2012 about “mail-order conservatism,” the tendency for the conservative movement to bilk their supporters through hysteria and lies and small-time grifting schemes. This tendency to rip off the rank and file dates back to the mail-order empire of Richard Viguerie. Con men were always critical to the conservative movement. Now, they comprise virtually the entire Republican Party.

Read the indictment of Steve Bannon and three associates, accused of defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors to the “We Build the Wall” campaign, a preposterous effort on its face to crowdsource the private construction of the border wall with Mexico. We Build the Wall took in an astounding $25 million, only enough for one mile of the 576 Trump means to erect, but about $25 million more than should be handed over for a building project to people with no engineering or logistics background.

But Bannon and his pals were experts at thievery. He took hundreds of thousands of dollars from We Build the Wall for travel and hotels, while Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage nabbed $350,000 for “home renovations, payments on a boat (named “Warfighter”), a luxury SUV, a golf cart, jewelry, cosmetic surgery (!), personal tax payments, and credit card debt,” per the indictment. The money was routed through a third-party nonprofit and a shell company, using fake invoices and vendor receipts.

The We Build the Wall website, numerous donor solicitations, and written bylaws of the organization made repeated assurances that all the money would go to border wall construction. Hilariously, when they learned of the criminal investigation, they took the “no compensation” pledge off the website.