Former major league pitcher Curt Schilling is among the prominent conservatives on the advisory board for “We Build the Wall”, the online fundraising organization that was alleged by federal prosecutors Thursday to have defrauded donors of funds gathered to construct Donald Trump’s border wall.
One-time Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon was among four men indicted by a federal grand jury in Manhattan on Thursday for working to “defraud hundreds of thousands of donors” in relation to the group, prosecutors said in a statement. Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, Timothy Shea were also named in the alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit, which authorities said raised more than $25m.
Schilling, 53, is listed as one of 13 advisory board members for the non-profit organization, according to the group’s website. The full roster is a who’s who of leading figures adored in conservative and anti-immigration circles, including controversial former Milwaukee county sheriff David Clarke Jr, Blackwater founder Erik Prince and former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo, who once campaigned for the White House on a stridently nativist message.
Schilling did not immediately respond to messages requesting comment on Thursday.
Robert S Spalding III, a retired US Air Force brigadier general who served alongside Schilling on the advisory board, told ABC News he would be “disappointed” if the allegations turned out to be true.
“I would like to wait and see what happens. It is the case that we’re presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Spalding said. “If it is proven true of course I would be disappointed.”
Widely regarded as one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time, Schilling was a key starter when the Arizona Diamondbacks won the team’s first and only World Series win in 2001. He then helped the Boston Red Sox end the club’s 86-year championship drought in 2004, famously winning Game 6 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees despite suffering a damaged tendon in his right ankle that left blood seeping out of his shoe. (Schilling sold the bloody sock at auction for $92,613 in 2013.)
He remains the only pitcher in baseball history to have won a World Series game in his 20s, 30s and 40s.
Since he announced his retirement in 2009 following a 20-year career in the major leagues, Schilling has been involved in a number of controversies including a failed video game venture called 38 Studios that defaulted on $75m in loans from Rhode Island. (He was later sued by the state.)
More recently, Schilling has made headlines for his outré political views. While working as an on-air analyst for ESPN in 2015, he was suspended from the network’s coverage of the Little League World Series after he retweeted a post that compared Muslims and Nazi-era Germans. He was fired the following year for making disparaging comments about transgender people on Facebook while expressing support for a North Carolina law banning transgender people from restrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate.
After mulling a run for Elizabeth Warren’s Massachusetts Senate seat in 2016, Schilling last year told the Arizona Republic he was considering a run for Congress in Arizona, saying “the illegal immigration issue is not a joke”.
The news prompted a response from Trump, who tweeted: “Curt Schilling, a great pitcher and patriot, is considering a run for Congress in Arizona. Terrific!”
One of only 18 pitchers in major-league history to record 3,000 strikeouts, Schilling has claimed his conservative political views have kept him out of the Hall of Fame.