(Lev Parnas, who was recently indicted with Donald Trump.)
In August, I reported on Brad Parscale and his wife, Candice Blount, who had drawn scrutiny over their relationship with a Trump-Pence super PAC. Parscale, who previously ran Trump’s digital media for his 2016 campaign, is currently serving as Donald Trump’s 2020 Campaign Manager. FEC records showed that Parscale’s company, Red State Data and Digital, has received $910,000 in total from America First Action, a Trump-centric super PAC that is able to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of federal candidates, but is barred from coordinating with those campaigns, especially in the area of spending.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Florida businessmen and associates of Rudy Giuliani, were indicted Thursday and the allegations contained therein could possibly link foreign political donations to Trump’s current campaign manager, Brad Parscale. U.S. Attorney, Geoffrey Berman, in an indictment on behalf of the Southern District of New York alleges that “Parnas and Fruman created a limited liability corporation, Global Energy Producers (“GEP”), and then intentionally caused certain large contributions to be reported in the name of GEP instead of in their own names.” The indictment further alleges that “in or about May 2018, to obtain access to exclusive political events and gain influence with politicians, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the defendants, made a $325,000 contribution to an independent expenditure committee” labeled as “Committee-1.”
(Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas (second and third from left) pictured with Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani.)
A review of the America First Action Contributor records shows that on May 17, 2018, a donation was made from “Global Energy Producers, L.L.C.” with an address in Boca Raton, Florida. The same pro-Trump super PAC that is making payouts to Trump’s own campaign manager is also taking contributions from foreign nationals now accused of using their foreign money to influence American politics. Lev Parnas has also donated thousands of dollars to Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in June of 2018.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were scheduled to appear as witnesses before Congress on matters relating to Trump’s impeachment inquiry on Thursday and Friday of this week. Both men were arrested on Wednesday night at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C., just a day before Lev Parnas was due to be deposed by the House Intelligence Committee. Both men were trying to board a Frankfurt-bound flight with one-way tickets.
The indictment alleges that Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman illegally funneled money through a company they set up with the intention of concealing their own identifies as funders so that they could donate to the pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action. The same super PAC has paid Trump’s own campaign manager, Brad Parscale, nearly one million dollars over the last several years.
(Rudy Giuliani with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, on Sept. 20, 2019.)
In addition to assisting Rudy Giuliani with his efforts to investigate former Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman are accused of perpetrating a “foreign national donor scheme” in which they conspired to make political donations, funded by someone identified only as “Foreign National-1” who had “Russian roots.” The purpose of these political donations was to channel money to politicians at the federal and state level who could then influence policy that would “benefit a future business venture.” According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, Parnas and Fruman had lunch with Rudy Giuliani yesterday before attempting to flee the county. Parnas and Fruman are also being represented by John Dowd, who has previously represented Donald Trump as his personal attorney in the special counsel’s inquiry.
(Mugshot of Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas after their arrest by U.S. federal authorities in connection with a campaign finance case on Oct. 10, 2019, via Alexandria Sheriff's Office/Reuters.)
What is becoming increasingly clear is that the America First Action super PAC is involved in transactions that are now being questioned by legal authorities. Along with the money it is dispersing to people like Parsacle, the money it is taking in is also suspect. This pro-Trump super PAC might just be the method by which the defendants were laundering money for Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs while taking care of bribing political officials as well. Both Parnas and Fruman had previously been investigated last year by the Federal Election Commission for violating campaign finance laws after a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog filed a complaint.
In addition to Parnas and Fruman, two other men were included in the indictment, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin. In a news conference announcing the charges, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Parnas and Fruman “sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests, but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official — a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.”