CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two Florida-based businessmen with ties to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney face charges after allegedly violating federal campaign laws.
The men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, made donations in a corporation’s name to avoid reporting requirements. One of their donations went to a political action committee supporting West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the southern district of New York on Thursday, Parnas and Fruman attended political fundraising events in 2018 in hopes of accessing political figures. The office notes the men “sought to advance their personal financial interests,” as well as the political interest of at least one Ukrainian official.
Parnas and Fruman made two political donations in May 2018; a $325,000 contribution to America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, and 35th Inc., a super PAC that spent millions of dollars as Morrisey was running for U.S. Senate.
35th Inc. spent around $2 million from its launch in March 2017 through December 2018, including $1.1 million directly supporting Morrisey. Parnas and Fruman made the donation on May 3, less than a week before West Virginia’s primary election.
Parnas and Fruman reported political contributions under Global Energy Producers LLC, a purported liquefied natural gas important-export business. Records from the Federal Election Commission note Global Energy Producers is located in Boca Raton, Florida.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the contributions did not come from Global Energy Producers’ funds.
“Rather, the donations came from a private lending transaction between Fruman and third parties, and never passed through a GEP account,” the office said. “Parnas and Fruman deliberately made the contributions in GEP’s name in order to evade federal reporting requirements and to conceal that they were the true source of the contributions, including so as to hide from creditors the fact that they had access to funding.”
Morrisey’s office directed all questions to 35th Inc.
“35th Inc. PAC is an independent entity, and any questions should be directed to them,” said Brian O’Neel, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office.
Charles Gantt, the treasurer of 35th Inc., did not return MetroNews’ request for comment.
35th Inc.’s mailing address notes all letters should be listed in care of law firm Clark Hill PLC at its Morgantown office. No comment from the law firm was returned by the time of publication.
The indictment also alleges Parnas and Fruman committed to raising $20,000 for a sitting congressman and asked the lawmaker for help in removing the American ambassador to Ukraine. NBC News reported the legislator is former Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who lost his re-election bid in last year’s election cycle.
Leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives subpoenaed Parnas and Fruman for information regarding reports about their work as well as association with Rudy Giuliani; Giuliani and the men worked together to set up meetings with Ukranian officials and discuss an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“Your clients are private citizens who are not employees of the Executive Branch. They may not evade requests from Congress for documents and information necessary to conduct our inquiry,” three House committee chairmen said.
“They are not exempted from this requirement merely because they happen to work with Mr. Giuliani, and they may not defy congressional subpoenas merely because President Trump has chosen the path of denial, defiance, and obstruction.”