The federal criminal case against four American businessmen — two of whom are associates of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and are tied to the Ukraine investigation — also reaches into two Nevada campaigns for statewide offices in 2018.
While the indictment unsealed Thursday identifies the Nevada political candidates only as “candidate-1” and "candidate-2,” campaign finance records show that one of the indicted businessmen, Igor Fruman, gave $10,000 each to 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt and 2018 Republican attorney general candidate Wesley Duncan.
The indictment alleges that Fruman and Lev Parnas, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin funneled foreign money from an unnamed Russian donor to candidates for both federal and state office in order to curry political favor. The candidates, the indictment says, were unaware of this, as the four — all U.S. citizens — kept the source of their money secret.
According to the indictment, the defendants wanted to open a marijuana dispensary in Nevada, using funds from the Russian citizen to gain political influence. The men had missed the timeline for obtaining a marijuana license and needed a sympathetic Nevada politician — the position “candidate-1” was running for — to give the “green light to implement this.”
Campaign finance law does not allow donations, made either directly or indirectly, from foreign nationals.
Parnas and Fruman, U.S. citizens born in the former Soviet Union and now living in Florida, are linked to Giuliani and are of interest in the ongoing impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. CNN reports that Parnas was Giuliani’s “fixer” in Ukraine, and that Parnas and Fruman were involved in attempts to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy giant.
Parnas and Fruman created a limited liability corporation, Global Energy Producers, in early 2018 to hide the source of their political contributions, prosecutors allege. They made contributions under the LLC which were, in actuality, donations from themselves, a violation of campaign finance law.
Attempts to reach Laxalt and Duncan for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.