Quantcast
Connect with us

Putin’s allies pump millions into GOP campaigns through proxies — thanks to Citizens United

Published

on

The landmark Citizens United case and related campaign finance laws may be facilitating Russia’s attempt to subvert U.S. democracy, the Dallas News reports.

According to an analysis of public campaign finance reports, a group of Russian-linked political donors with ties to Vladimir Putin funnel money to Donald Trump and the GOP through legal campaign contributions that have, thus far, faced little-to-no scrutiny by the federal government.

ADVERTISEMENT

That could be changing. In September, it was reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating three donors with ties to Russia who contributed a combined total of $2 million to funds controlled by Trump. All three of the men have financial and business ties to Russian oligarchs who are intricately linked with Putin.

As the Dallas News explains, one of those men is Ukrainian-born billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, who holds dual American and British citizenship. Blavatnik at one time offered political donations on a bipartisan basis, giving small contributions to both parties from 2009 to 2014.

From 2015 to 2016, Blavatnik stopped donating to both political parties, and instead contributed $6.35 million to GOP political action committees. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Blavatnik and two other Russian-linked donors began pumping donations to the Republican National Committee “just as Trump was on the verge of securing the Republican nomination.”

Since April 2016, Blavatnik has donated $383,000 to the RNC, with $12,700 going to the RNC legal fund. That account paid Trump’s legal bills in the Russia investigation until November. Blavatnik also donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund, ABC reports.

By all accounts, Blavatnik is a success story. Having grown up in the U.S.S.R, he moved to the United States in the ’70s, then returned just before the fall of the Soviet Union, amassing his fortune in oil, gas and heavy industry in Putin’s Russia.

ADVERTISEMENT

He also has extensive ties to Russian oligarchs that are directly linked to Putin. Blavatnik holds a stake in Rusal, which was founded by Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska. As the Dallas News notes, Putin’s state-controlled bank owns “nearly 4 percent of Deripaska’s stake in Rusal.”

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort—who’s been indicted on money laundering and conspiracy charges as part of Mueller’s probe—had a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska through his lobbying firm. He reportedly offered the Russian oligarch “private briefings” two weeks before Trump secured the Republican nomination.

Blavatnik is also publicly associated with Viktor Vekselberg, a Putin ally who owns part of the Bank of Cyprus—which handed over Manafort’s bank records to Mueller in November, Bloomberg reports. Blavatnik and Vekselberg are co-founders of the Renova Group.

ADVERTISEMENT

Along with Blavatnik, Mueller is also reportedly scrutinizing $285,000 in donations from U.S. citizen Andrew Intrater, the head of Columbus Nova—which a subsidiary of Renova Group. Intrater is Vekselberg’s cousin.

The third identified as a possible target of Mueller’s investigation is oil magnate Simon Kukes, a Russian-born American chemist who Open Secrets reports “contributed more than $150,000 to Trump’s campaign and joint fundraising committee, Trump Victory.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Dallas News identifies a fourth major donor with known ties to the Russian government as IMG Artists chief executive Alexander Shustorovich. In total, those four men “made $10.4 million in political contributions from the start of the 2015-16 election cycle through September 2017, and 99 percent of their contributions went to Republicans,” according to the report.

Perhaps the most insidious connection, however, is the one to Trump’s campaign and Citizens United. U.S. corporations and individuals can donate as much money as they want to political campaigns through political action committees and non-profit organizations thanks to David Bossie, chairman of the conservative group Citizens United. Bossie led the effort to remove limits on campaign finance laws. He was also deputy campaign manager to the Trump presidential campaign.

The Dallas News notes that many of Trump’s most prominent backers, including Robert and Rebekah Mercer and Erik Prince, benefit immensely from the Citizens United ruling. Dan Backer, and Russian-born emigre and the general counsel for three pro-Trump political action committees, was also the lead attorney for the 2014 Supreme Court case that removed a cap on the number of candidates and political parties wealthy donors can contribute to.

ADVERTISEMENT

The campaign finance laws currently in place mean the donations from these Russia-linked businessmen fall within our current framework. As House intelligence committee ranking member (D-CA) Adam Schiff explained to ABC News, “unless the contributions were directed by a foreigner, they would be legal.”

Still, Schiff argued, they could “be of interest to investigators examining allegations of Russian influence on the 2016 campaign.”

“Obviously, if there were those that had associations with the Kremlin that were contributing, that would be of keen concern,” Schiff added. “… The oligarchs are really part and parcel of service to the Kremlin. They can be called upon at basically Putin’s will to do what he needs done. It gives them some distance from the Kremlin, it gives them some plausible deniability.”


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Trump creates a ‘minefield’ of legal problems for his own staff with plan for White House acceptance speech: report

Published

on

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that he might deliver his Republican National Convention speech from the White House. But legal experts who spoke with Bloomberg warned that might not be a good idea.

The publication described the proposal as "a minefield of problems for the staff charged with putting such an event together."

The Hatch Act forbids the use of government property and employees for political activities. Although the president and vice president are exempted from the federal law, their staff at the White House could face repercussions.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Controversial ‘Hookers for Jesus’ group to get more federal money as Bill Barr and Ivanka Trump announce anti-sex trafficking effort

Published

on

The Las Vegas-based group Hookers for Jesus has won a grant from the Justice Department less than a year after whistleblowers raised red flags about federal funds being awarded to the organization, Reuters reports.

The complaint from union officials says the group, which is run by a born-again Christian survivor of sex trafficking and operates a safe house for adult trafficking victims, got its grant due to political favoritism.

A previous Reuters report revealed that the group required residents of the safe house to go to church, complete Christian homework, and banned them from reading “secular magazines with articles, pictures, etc. that portray worldly views/advice on living, sex, clothing, makeup tips.” As Reuters points out, recipients of federal funds are not allowed to use the funds to promote religion.

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Noted author accuses Jared Kushner of ‘planning last ditch try at disqualifying Biden ballots on election night’ with Barr’s blessing

Published

on

A prolific author and speaker who has been described as a "Religious Right Defector" has issued a warning about the 2020 election that's getting noticed.

Frank Schaeffer was raised by a noted conservative Christian theologian who was at the forefront of right wing Christian political activism in the 1970's. But now he is a liberal Democrat and a cable news guest frequently invited to speak on the tactics of the religious right.

This week he's speaking out about what he says is the White House's plan to ensure Trump remains in the Oval Office.

In short, Schaeffer says Jared Kushner is planning an end run around the election process, and will appeal to the Supreme Court, as George W. Bush did in the 2000 election, to ensure Trump is installed in office for another four years.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image