CHARLESTON — Two associates of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney have been arrested on charges that they schemed to skirt election laws and funnel foreign money to U.S. politicians, including a super PAC that exists solely to support West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
The two men allegedly helped Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney and a former mayor of New York City, investigate Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden, an effort that is now part of the U.S. House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of Trump.
According to the indictment, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, both Ukrainians, sought to advance their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working.
They then created an LLC, Global Energy Producers, a purported liquefied natural gas import-export business, and “intentionally caused certain large contributions to be reported in the name of GEP instead of their own names,” according to the indictment.
The indictment lists two contributions in May 2018, the first for $15,000 and the second for $325,000. Records filed with the Federal Election Commission show that GEP made its first contribution to 35th Inc. on May 3, 2018, and the second to America First Action Inc. on May 17, 2018.
The 35th Inc. PAC formed in March 2017 and spent more than $2 million supporting Morrisey and attacking his opponents in his bid for the U.S. Senate in 2018.
Rather than the company, the indictment states that the funds came from Fruman and “third parties” and never passed through a GEP account.
“35th Inc. PAC is an independent entity, and any questions should be directed to them,” Brian K. O’Neel, a spokesman for Morrisey’s office, said in a statement.
In an email, Sloane Carlough, an attorney speaking on behalf of 35th PAC, said the group was unaware of any issue regarding the contribution.
“Your question is the first indication that 35th Inc. has received anything untoward regarding any contribution that it received,” she said in an email.
“Based upon the news today, the PAC would like to disgorge the contribution in question, but does not have the funds available to do that.”
The indictment goes on to detail more alleged chicanery from the Ukrainians, including that they committed to raise funds for a sitting congressman while seeking his assistance in removing the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The New York Times reported that the unnamed congressman is Pete Sessions, R-Texas.
The Times also reported that the House of Representatives was seeking to interview Parnas and Fruman prior to the indictment because they worked to gather information in Ukraine about Biden and his son, Hunter, and that Parnas helped connect Giuliani with Ukrainian prosecutors.