Another Trump Buddy Accused of Stealing Taxpayer Funds
The recently retired Republican sheriff in Chester County, Pa., an early supporter of Donald Trump and frequent guest of his at the White House, has been charged along with her longtime live-in boyfriend with stealing taxpayer money.
Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh, 76, and her partner, Harry McKinney, 64, appeared in front of a West Chester magistrate on Tuesday and were arraigned on theft charges that grew out of an investigation into the fundraising activities of the Friends of the Chester County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, which was operated out of the office that Welsh headed for 20 years.
Welsh allegedly used taxpayer money to pay sheriff’s deputies to perform work for a private K-9 unit charity at her direction. McKinney is charged with using donations to the charity to pay for care of the couple’s non-working K-9 family pet.
Chester County Controller Margaret Reif, a Democrat, spent two years delving into the sheriff department’s finances, reported the Daily Local, a Chester County newspaper, before producing an audit questioning how nearly $200,000 in donations were spent. Reif later sued Welsh in county court, alleging she had improperly given McKinney $67,000 in overtime — directly benefiting herself in the process, since she had lived with him for 15 years.
“Bunny Welsh used her position of power for her and her partner Harry McKinney’s own personal gain instead of serving her community as she was elected to do,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) said in a statement. “This blatant misappropriation of funds is unacceptable.”
Welsh attended the Republican National Convention as a delegate, spoke at rallies and even helped her ailing mother cast an absentee ballot for Trump from her deathbed.
After Trump’s win, Welsh made multiple trips to the White House, often being seated next to Trump as he met with other law enforcement officers and being photographed with him wearing her navy blue ceremonial sheriff’s uniform. She was among 10 sheriffs who met with him just one month after his inauguration and returned to the White House in January 2019 for another roundtable discussion, at which Trump introduced her as “a friend of mine for a long time, from the beginning.”