Rudy Giuliani‘s friends, clients and Ukrainian hatchet men Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman face several felonies over their roles in various conspiracies and efforts to defraud the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) by allegedly misrepresenting the source of funds and for unlawfully soliciting foreign campaign contributions.
Before it all fell apart, however, Parnas and Fruman were ascendant backdoor power players in GOP politics across the country.
Starting in late 2016, Parnas began spreading his financial largesse across the country by way of various state Republican Party groups.
A search of FEC records shows that during the last week of October 2016, Parnas made 20 identical contributions of $661.90 to the North Carolina Republican Party, the Republican Party of Minnesota, the New Jersey Republican State Committee, the South Carolina Republican Party, the Tennessee Republican Party, the Connecticut Republican Party, the Wyoming Republican Party, the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania, the California Republican Party, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the New York Republican Federal Campaign Committee, the Republican Party of Virginia, the North Dakota Republican Party, the Mississippi Republican Party, the West Virginia Republican Party, the Alabama Republican Party, the Republican Party of Louisiana, the Illinois Republican Party and the Kansas Republican Party.
And, just before the 2016 presidential election, Parnas made a statutory maximum donation of $2,700 to then-candidate Trump.
In June 2018, Parnas gifted the same statutory maximum contribution to House GOP Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Law&Crime initially spoke with Rep. McCarthy’s office. They confirmed they were
The Ukrainian-born businessman also maxed-out to former representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas) just days before the McCarthy contribution, according to publicly available FEC records.
Parnas also showered cash on various electoral organizations.
Vice President Mike Pence‘s Great America Committee received $5,000 dollars. The GOP’s “Protect the House” joint fundraising committee received $11,000. The National Republican Congressional Committee received $3,800 spread across two separate donations from Parnas. The Republican National Committee received $33,400. And the Trump Victory PAC received $50,000 in Parnas’s name.
Fruman has been considerably more active in his exploits as a donor for the GOP. He doubly maxed-out to then-governor and eventual Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) in May 2018. On the same day, Fruman donated $15,000 to the Rick Scott Victory Fund PAC. He later made two separate $2,700 contributions to Rep. Joseph Wilson (R-S.C.) in June 2018–one for the primary election; one for the general election.
Law&Crime reached out to Scott and Wilson for comment on this story, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
Fruman also made a maximum $2,700 donation to Sessions–on the exact same day that Parnas maxed-out to the former GOP congressman. Fruman himself later maxed-out to President Trump’s re-election campaign in February 2018.
And, aside from several small donations to various Trump- and GOP-affiliated campaigns and committees, Fruman gifted the National Republican Senate Committee with $9,600 in May 2018.
Then there’s “Igor Furman,” the slight misspelling of Fruman’s name that federal authorities allege Fruman used to mask upwards of $400,000 in campaign contributions to various GOP politicians and committees throughout the spring of 2018.
And that’s just the Ukrainian pair’s federal efforts. State campaign finance contributions–which are not tracked by the FEC–show that Parnas and Fruman have spread their cash around various conservative politicians and causes at the state level as well.
“A check of Nevada campaign contributions made by one of the indicted men, Igor Fruman, shows he contributed the maximum $10,000 each to Adam Laxalt and Wesley Duncan, the Republican candidates for governor and attorney general, respectively, last year,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The donations were made on Nov. 1, 2018, according to each campaign’s finance records.”
That’s an awful lot of money and attempts to purchase influence within the GOP–and not for nothing. Not at all. The key investments in GOP bigwigs almost immediately paid off for Parnas and Fruman.
The duo met with President Trump himself, Donald Trump Jr. and various congressional Republicans. They somehow became something not entirely unlike surgically-grafted to Giuliani and successfully lobbied for the removal of former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch—who opposed their business schemes.
And they even caught the ear of Texas’s former–and longest-serving–governor and current Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
New York Magazine notes:
Their efforts to intertwine their business agenda with the Trump political agenda were so successful that Energy Secretary Rick Perry brought up their interests in his negotiations with Ukraine. … Perry met with Parnas and Fruman and reportedly asked Ukrainians to place a couple of Americans on the board of the state gas company.
But it doesn’t even come close to stopping there.
Global Energy Producers LLC, the company used by Parnas and Fruman to allegedly mask their foreign-sourced and excessive campaign contributions, donated $50,000 to then-representative and the Sunshine State’s eventual Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.).
On July 18, Parnas was the co-host of a fundraiser for DeSantis that featured Trump, Jr. and Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro.
NOT LISTED IN THE INDICTMENT: The company LEV PARNAS & IGOR FRUMAN used for political donations, GLOBAL ENERGY PRODUCERS LLC, also donated $50k to the TRUMP-endorsed Florida gov candidate @RonDeSantisFL in June 2018, then Parnas co-hosted a DeSANTIS fundraiser the next month. pic.twitter.com/T7lzoJmzue
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) October 10, 2019
DeSantis, for his part, released a statement calling the allegations against Parnas and Fruman “troubling”; he said that he would direct his PAC “to return the money to the federal government.”
Trump’s eldest son isn’t just ancillary to the Parnas and Fruman drama.
Trump Jr. and his longtime friend and “hunting buddy” Tommy Hicks, Jr. both dined with Parnas and Fruman at the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge in May 2018. According to a since-deleted Parnas Facebook post, he and his associates had a “power breakfast” but what exactly was discussed during that meeting is currently unknown.
Hicks is also a son of extreme wealth and privilege–his father, a private equity investor, previously owned the Texas Rangers baseball franchise after purchasing it from the Bush family in 1998–but recently rose through the ranks of the institutional GOP thanks to his Texas-based establishment ties and friendship with the Trump family.
Hicks, the consummate Trump “loyalist,” was named co-chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in early 2019.
Law&Crime reached out to the RNC about Hicks’s relationship and prior conversations with Parnas and Fruman, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
[image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images]
Editor’s note: this article has been amended post-publication to account for additional Republican figures connected to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman who have since come to light.