Recently, the Ukraine scandal enveloping President Donald Trump and some of his closest associates like personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani took a dramatic turn with the abrupt arrest of two of Giuliani’s associates, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas. They were charged (alongside two others) with running a massive scheme to violate federal campaign finance laws via funneling foreign money to U.S. candidates. Now, two of those who apparently benefited from the apparent scheme have been revealed, although the story by no means ends here. Still, a spotlight is now on two New York Republicans, including John Katko, who is still in office, and Claudia Tenney, who was defeated in the 2018 elections but is now trying to win back her seat.
The donations came under a fake name through the Protect the House joint fundraising committee, which covered dozens of beneficiaries through the 2018 election cycle, including notables like House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and more than a dozen state parties. Fruman — donating as “Igor Furman” — gave $271.43 around March 31, 2018 and $2173.91 around June 26 of that same year that went to both the Katko and Tenney campaigns, respectively.
Katko has responded by donating an amount equivalent to what he gained from Fruman to a local charity. He sent $2,433 to the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center, which local media note is a similar tactic that he used back in 2015 after individuals who’d donated a hefty sum to his campaign were slapped with federal corruption charges. Tenney did not immediately respond to local media inquiries about if she planned to do anything to make up for benefiting from Fruman’s money.
They’re not the only ones who have benefited from Parnas and Fruman’s scheme. According to their original indictment, they transferred at least $1 million from a Russian businessman (whose name isn’t revealed) to political candidates in Nevada while they were trying to gain favor for a retail marijuana business they were planning to develop but never got off the ground.
Additionally, the now former Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions, who at one time led the GOP’s main arm for Congressional campaigning, also benefited majorly from the schemers in exchange for him pushing the Trump administration to fire then-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Fruman made a maximum personal contribution of $2,700 directly to the Sessions campaign and then made another illegal donation of the same amount under Parnas’s name. A company created by the pair also donated some $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC that spent some $3 million in total on Sessions’s campaign efforts, and on top of this, when meeting with Sessions at one point, the pair said they would raise some $20,000 for him.
These details combine to paint a portrait of a GOP firmly in the pocket of Russian financial interests. Giuliani is a direct associate of the president of the United States, and it’s two of his colleagues who’ve been arrested on charges of helping orchestrate this scheme. These revelations are no small matter, no matter how furiously President Trump and his cronies would like to claim otherwise.
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