Lev Parnas (Soviet-born, former business associate of) Rudy GiulianiRecently, he was convicted of campaign finance crimes. His case, and others, exposed the ways secret donors — including foreign nationals — can hide their identities from the American public while currying influence with U.S. politicians through straw donors, shell companies and “dark money.”
A jury was installed on Oct. 22. foundParnas was found guilty of six charges related to illegally channeling foreign money into U.S. election campaigns. Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born California cannabis investor, was found guilty of two charges related to the conspiracy for money to be steered from a foreign national into U.S. election.
Parnas could be sentenced to up to 45 year imprisonment for the six charges. However, his sentencing was deferredIn lieu of a second trial, Giuliani is being held in connection to his alleged scheme defrauding investors of more than 2 million dollars invested in his shell company Fraud Guarantee. Giuliani admittedWorking on the shell company in return for $500,000 in 2019. Parnas is also being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Igor Fruman, Parnas’ Soviet-born business partner, was chargedKukushkin was also part of the illegal foreign straw donor program, as was their U.S. partner David Correia.
Fruman pleadedIn September, Correia pleaded guilty to one count of soliciting foreign money and is currently awaiting sentencing. Correia was sentenced in February. sentencedAfter pleading guilty, he was sentenced for conspiracy and making false statements to a year and one-half years in prison.
The scheme contributed more than $690,000. It was used to fund Republican campaigns and political organizations during the 2018 election cycle. This money reached candidates at both the federal and state levels.
Parnas was convicted on charges related to steering a $325,000 donation Russian national Andrei MuravievTo the pro-Trump superPAC America First ActionGlobal Energy Producers, a shell company, was used in 2018.
Although it is unclear what influence Parnas and other contributors had, the access granted is well documented.
Text messages admitted as evidence during the trial show America First Action’s financial director encouraged Parnas to give large contributuions to the pro-Trump super PAC so Parnas could get access to events.
The super PAC hosted a number of events catering to big donors attendedFormer President Donald Trump himself, including one where Parnas’ photo was taken with Trump.
At the federal level 35th Inc., a super PAC for one-candidate that supported a former Congressional Candidate Patrick Morrisey(R-W.Va.), received $15,000 in 2018 from Global Energy Producers
Parnas, along with his associates, also donated $50,000 in the name Global Energy Producers to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisState campaign finance disclosures reveal that (R) donated to his 2018 gubernatorial election. The donation came just before DeSantis won the Republican primary and a day before Trump gave DeSantis a “full endorsement.” DeSantis turned the money over to the federal government after Fruman and Parnas were arrested. DeSantis admitted at the time that he knew Parnas but Fruman, “not so much.”
Prosecutors claimed that Parnas lied about the source of the 2018 donation to the Federal Election Commission, since the company was not profitable or operating as a business.
The jury determined that the donation was actually sourced from a Fruman mortgage refinance loan.
Parnas, Fruman and other candidates who received donations during the 2018 cycle shared a common thread: they were running in states that could be advantageous to their fledgling campaigns. marijuana business.
Wesley Duncan — a 2018 Republican candidate for attorney general in Nevada — testified that his campaign refunded a $10,000 donation from Parnas as soon as they found out it was illegal. Duncan claimed that Parnas once invited him to fly in a private plane to attend an event.
Other significant contributions include $100,000 Protect the HouseAnd up to $100,000 House Majority TrustJoint fundraising committees to benefit the Republican National Committee The National Republican Congressional Committee.
While Parnas’ case ended with a conviction, other prosecutions in similar cases are just beginning.
On Oct. 19, a grand jury indicted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry(R. Neb.) (R-Neb.). With knowingly making false statements to FBI agents regarding whether he knew that his campaign had received illegal contributions from Lebanese billionaire Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert ChagouryAt a 2016 fundraising event.
The Justice Department released documents in April that revealed that ChagouryTo resolve allegations that a straw donor scheme was illegally routing foreign contributions to U.S. campaigns, the U.S. government was required to pay $1.8 million.
Fortenberry is the only politician indicted in this case. He is charged for concealing information and making false statements in federal investigations.
The other candidates who received illegal foreign money from straw donors to Chagoury for their campaigns have not been charged.
These charges are related to multiple other scandals involving campaign finance.
The DOJ announced charges in September against Republican operatives Jesse Benton and Doug Wead for allegedly funneling money from a Russian national to the Trump campaign’s joint fundraising committee in a straw donor scheme.
The FEC was established on October 12. unsealedA signed conciliation agreement where the pro-Trump side has agreed to abide by it Great America PACAfter Benton allegedly solicited $2million in 2016 from Telegraph journalists, Benton agreed that he would pay a $25,000 civil penalty.
In a recording released by The TelegraphBenton describes how a foreign national could make a $2 million contribution through shell companies to the PAC. 501(c)(4) nonprofit dark money groups.
The FEC charged Benton with knowingly soliciting illegal funds from a foreign national but Benton declined to cooperate with the FEC’s investigation and chose not to enter into conciliation because of due processIssues The FEC finally deadlockedWhether to pursue the matter further.
Benton was inaugurated December 2020 pardonedTrump charged with charges in connection to hiding bribesUnrelated 2012 campaign finance scandal. Benton allegedly paid a seller, who then paid a subvendor. This violated the FEC’s ultimate vendor disclosure rules.