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Politics

DeSantis, Mast Return Cash from Arrested Donors Embroiled in Giuliani-Ukraine Affair

October 16, 2019 - 6:00am
Nov. 6, 2018: Gov.-elect DeSantis, center, in a crowd of supporters including Parnas, left, and next to him Furman
Nov. 6, 2018: Gov.-elect DeSantis, center, in a crowd of supporters including Parnas, left, and next to him Furman

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast joined Gov. Ron DeSantis in announcing he had received, but will return, campaign contributions from two Soviet-born South Florida businessmen arrested last week on federal campaign finance charges.

According to their indictments, Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born resident of Boca Raton, and Igor Fruman, a naturalized citizen from Belarus and Sunny Isles Beach resident, used wire transfers from shell corporations to illegally funnel $325,000 in foreign “straw donations” to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action committee in 2018.

The two may also face charges linked to Congressional allegations of abuse of executive power for allegedly assisting President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani to investigate the Bidens in Ukraine and successfully lobbying to remove then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch from office.

Parnas and Fruman refused to testify about their actions with Giuliani in the Ukraine last week before U.S. House committees. Parnas was requested to appear before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees Thursday. Fruman was to do so Friday.

They were arrested at Dulles Airport in Washington DC Wednesday night by the FBI as they prepared to fly to Germany with one-way tickets.

Brian Mast
Brian Mast
According to Florida Division of Elections’ data, Parnas and Fruman via a corporation they created, Global Energy Producers LLC, also donated $50,000 to a DeSantis-affiliated PAC in June 2018, $2,433 to Mast’s re-election campaign and to Adam Putnam, DeSantis’ gubernatorial GOP primary rival.

According to the Miami Herald, Parnas also hosted two fundraisers for DeSantis in 2018, including a small gathering attended by the governor himself and one highlighted by Donald Trump, Jr.

The four-count indictment, filed in the Southern District of New York and unsealed Thursday, claims Parnas and Fruman siphoned money – from a single Russian donor, according to the Wall Street Journal – through Global Energy Producers to Trump’s America First Action PAC to advance “their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official for whom they were working.”

The pair face charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.

The indictment and supporting documents allege the two created an elaborate scheme to help an unnamed Ukrainian government official and a person they describe as having "Russian roots" gain access to U.S. politicians and government officials.

"This investigation is about corrupt behavior," William Sweeney, a top official in the FBI's New York office said at a Thursday press conference. "Deliberate law breaking."

Following the formal filing of federal charges Thursday against Parnas and Fruman, the Florida Democratic Party called on DeSantis to return the money.

“From lobbyists paying tens of thousands of dollars to dine or play golf with DeSantis, to taking money from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, it is alarming how he conducts himself,” State Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo said. “DeSantis should take the $50,000 in donations he received from Parnas and Fruman and donate it to charity immediately.”

DeSantis directed his political action committee Thursday to do just that with spokesperson Helen Aguirre Ferré telling the Miami Herald the Governor “does not have a relationship with these individuals nor has he had a one-on-one meeting with them. They may have attended some political events in 2018. Of course, the governor does not condone any illegal activities."

"Gov. DeSantis is directing the political action committee to return the money to the federal government,” Ferré later announced in a written statement.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in Washington, D.C., called for Mast to follow DeSantis’ example in an email blast highlighting the donations late Thursday.

On Friday, Mast’s office said he will return the $2,433 his PAC received from “Igor Fruman” — via Protect The House PAC, a GOP funding platform for House incumbents — between March and June of 2018.

“The money came from Protect The House, not directly from Fruman,” A Mast For Congress spokesperson told the Associated Press. “Brian has never met or talked to Fruman and didn’t solicit the money.”

John Haughey is the Florida contributor to The Center Square.

Comments

It's time to put at least half of the corrupt democRAT party in jail.

Just another day in the corrupt comings and goings of the Trumpolini crime family. Republicans who support this bullsh*t should have their voter registrations terminated with prejudice!

You are 100% correct Crystal. Let's see how many who gave Obama, Hillary and Bill money for political favors show up!!!!

This is exactly why Bill, Hillary and Obama are millionaires. None of them had an ounce of business sense.

Apparently you have no idea how much speaking fees, book deals are worth all presidents do to make up for lost revenue as president...…Plus Obama, his wife are the most respected people in the country, unlike Trump …. …..Obamas are well off before with Him a community organizer and she a respected lawyer, unlike Trump most known for the largest private bankruptcy ever, screwing small businesses offering a payment of 50% take it or leave it......…........You must be apocalyptic at all the money Trump is making off being the president, No?......…......….Are you mad about all the illegal workers he used for decades?...…...….How about the Poles he imports to take Floridian waiter, resort jobs?. P'od I'd guess, no?

The Obamas have been “Corrupt Chicago crooked” for DECADES ( and probably “raked in” a fortune from their “Fast and Furious” illegal gun sales to Mexican drug cartels.

"lost revenue"????? What a joke. Aside from Trump, absolutely none of them had the ability to make that kind of money outside of political influence.

The gang that couldn't shoot straight!!…………..Chump is in deep trying to prove something that never happened against a opponent that was never going to be the nominee!!………...That he didn't know he was breaking they law has no basis in fact and now has many people doing an illegal act including Pence, Barr, Perry could all go down with Chump...………...Remind me why you all voted for this despicable scumbag of a person who was best known for being the largest private bankruptcy ever and screwing over his suppliers, contractors he was fond of saying he'll pay 50% or go to court?...………...Now he just gave Russia, Iran much of Syria and releasing most of the ISIS fighters so as Chump said they can go home to Europe and will obviously will kill people there. WoW!! ……….And you voted for this incompetent mentally ill fool.

Let them kill each other (like they have always been historically doing in their “ignorant tribal hatred”).....Let God sort them out!!!!!!!

Obviously, Obama did not use a condom.

His father apparently was not near a sink

Now, let's see how many people contributed to Obama under similar circumstances, especially from groups like CAIR and Farrakhan.

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