Several key fundraisers for President Donald Trump have been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in New York City as part of their widening investigation into the 45th president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
Investigators with the Southern District of New York (SDNY) issued a subpoena to Ballard Partners, the lobbying firm owned and operated by top Trump bagman Brian Ballard, a fixture of the political establishment in Washington, D.C. and Florida, according to CNN.
“Ballard Partners’ highly skilled team helps its clients navigate the political terrains of Washington, DC and Florida,” the firm’s website boasts. “Our…clients are global innovators and disruptors to major league sports dynasties. We are proud to represent international companies and countries, Florida businesses, non-profit organizations, public and private institutions including universities, cities, counties, public utilities, healthcare interests, and many more.”
Ballard advertises his services as “bipartisan” but in 2018, he was quoted by Politico telling fellow Republicans: “You have to embrace the Trump presidency.”
Ballard took his own advice and then some by also embracing at least one of Giuliani’s Ukrainian off-the-books diplomats Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman after the two Soviet-born Floridians quickly enmeshed themselves in GOP politics by virtue of their demonstrable fundraising prowess–as well as other connections and abilities.
Late Wednesday, the Daily Beast reported that Parnas had personally overseen an expensive tax-payer-funded jaunt taken by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) across Europe in search of dirt on the Democratic Party. Prosecutors allege the duo’s quickly-ascendant fundraising star and power status within the GOP was buoyed by the infusion and laundering of millions of dollars worth of ill-gotten and foreign money.
Mr. Parnas also developed a relationship through Republican donor politics with Mr. Ballard, whose firm, Ballard Partners, paid Mr. Parnas at least $22,500 for referring business from the Turkish government.
As a result of Parnas’s handiwork, Ballard Partners secured two contracts with the authoritarian Turkish government worth over $2 million, according to public lobbying records cited by the Times.
William W. Taylor III is an attorney for Ballad Partners. In a statement, he confirmed the receipt of the SDNY subpoena:
Ballard Partners is cooperating with a United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York investigation. It has received a subpoena and is complying.
Two additional subpoenas were served on two separate individuals associated with President Trump’s “approved” Super PAC, America First Action. According to the New York Times, those two people “helped raise money for” the president’s preferred outside spending organization.
One of those individuals is Onajite Paul Okoloko, a Harvard Business School-minted entrepreneur who currently serves as the executive of a several chemical companies in Nigeria. According to CNN, Parnas worked to secure an investment from Okoloko in his company Fraud Guarantee.
The third subpoena was sent to Meredith O’Rourke, a semi-permanent aspect of the Florida GOP’s money-accumulation engine.
“For the past two decades in Florida, political fundraising has become synonymous with the name Meredith O’Rourke,” her twin sister wrote in a 2018 issue of Influence Magazine. O’Rourke has previously worked with now-Senator Rick Scott–helping him raise in excess of $100 million–and helped keep the lights on for Chris Christie‘s doomed 2016 presidential bid by raising cash for the former New Jersey governor’s Super PAC.
America First Action, however, made an effort to clarify that their organization itself had not been served any such subpoena requests.
“We have not been issued any subpoenas,” spokesperson Kelly Sadler told the Times–noting that the Super PAC had “voluntarily” reached out to the SDNY after news of their association with Parnas became public knowledge following his indictment. “America First Action strictly follows the law and, as this is an open matter, we have no further comment.”
As Law&Crime previously reported, Parnas and Fruman illegally funneled some $325,000 to America First Action during the 2018 midterm election cycle.
Parnas’s attorney Joseph A. Bondy welcomed the issuance of the subpoenas, saying he was “pleased to know that the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York is continuing its investigation, and look forward to its witnesses providing complete and accurate information in response to their questions.”
Law&Crime reached out to Okoloko and O’Rourke via their respective companies but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]