Arizona Sen. Steve Smith: Border Security Trust Fund Money Wasn't Actually For A Wall

By Holliday Moore
Howard Fischer
Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 11:07am
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 11:44am

When the Arizona Legislature originally set up the Border Security Trust Fund six years ago, lawmakers billed it as a privately funded solution for building a border wall along Arizona's 378 mile border with Mexico.

The program was launched online and received donations from the around the country initially.

However, funds fell far short of affording the estimated $3-7 million needed to build each mile.

Sen. Steve Smith of Maricopa now denies the fund was actually for building a wall, but said it was good PR at the time.

"It was to do nothing other than to shame the federal government into doing their job," he said, referring to the political climate under then President Barak Obama.

"We had no delusion that this was supposed to be the cure-all," Smith said. "It was for Arizona to make its voice loud and heard."

Although funds missed their mark by miles, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels won a proposal to use what money was raised for improving his region's surveillance along the border.

Dannels used an initial $200,000 to buy low-to-the-ground cameras.

On Tuesday, a special legislative panel liquidated the remaining $55,000 and gave it to the Cochise County Sheriff's Department for purchasing more cameras and equipment to continue its surveillance program.