POLITICS
10/10/2019 20:52 EDT

Republicans Start Giving Away Contributions From Trump's Indicted Ukraine Plot Associates

Before being indicted, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas worked with Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani on the plot to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

Republican candidates and committees who benefited from allegedly illegal donations made by two clients of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani are planning to donate them to charity.

Those two clients, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, made straw donations in the name of others and operated as a front for an unknown Russian foreign national to donate to “politicians and candidates for federal and state office,” according to a federal indictment filed Thursday.

Fruman and Parnas are reportedly deeply involved in the scheme concocted by Trump and Giuliani to pressure the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running for the 2020 Democratic nomination. They worked in both Ukraine and the U.S., often mixing politics with business, to gather information and influence politicians as part of Giuliani’s efforts. This plan to get a foreign government to help Trump’s reelection campaign is at the center of the House impeachment inquiry into the president.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) plans to give $111,000 — the amount Fruman and Parnas donated to a joint fundraising committee called Protect the House — to an as-yet-to-be-determined charity in his district. The National Republican Congressional Committee says it will donate contributions it received beyond those originally donated to Protect the House as well. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also plans to donate the $50,000 his 2018 campaign received from a shell company run by Fruman and Parnas, according to the Miami Herald.

“The deception documented in today’s indictment has no place in our country and as a result, McCarthy plans to donate amounts received to a local charity,” Matt Sparks, a spokesman for McCarthy, said in an email.

Social media screen shot/Campaign Legal Center via Reuters
Donald Trump Jr., left, in Beverly Hills with Trump campaign fundraiser Tommy Hicks Jr., Ukrainian American businessman Lev Parnas and Belarus-born businessman Igor Fruman in a 2018 screen capture from Parnas' social media account.

Starting in 2016, Fruman and Parnas contributed at least $955,000 to Republican candidates, committees and super PACs.

The $325,000 contribution to America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, made in the name of Global Energy Producers LLC in 2018 was the largest contribution made by Fruman and Parnas. The indictment charges the two businessmen with illegally masking their identities by contributing to the super PAC through a shell corporation.

The indictment also mentions a $2,700 donation to Congressman-1, who has been identified by press reports as former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). Fruman and Parnas promised to raise $20,000 for Sessions. Around the time of this promise, Sessions sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to fire the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a major priority of Giuliani’s influence campaign.

The only other contributions specifically mentioned in the indictment are two $10,000 donations to Republican state candidates in Nevada. Fruman and Parnas made these allegedly illegal donations on behalf of a Russian national who was purportedly seeking to obtain a cannabis business license, according to the indictment. The only two Nevada candidates to receive contributions from Fruman or Parnas in 2018 were gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt and attorney general candidate Wes Duncan, according to state records.

According to federal campaign finance records, Fruman and Parnas also donated $100,000 to House Majority Trust, another joint fundraising committee that worked to protect the Republican House majority in 2018; $15,000 to Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-Fla.) joint fundraising committee; and $53,200 to committees connected with Trump’s presidential campaign.

Protect the House divided contributions to the NRCC, McCarthy and his leadership PAC and over a dozen vulnerable House Republicans. House Majority Trust split its contributions between the Republican National Committee and the NRCC. The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it plans to return or donate the contributions.