A sweeping complaint was filed today with the Federal Election Commission against a Senator, two Representatives, and six Washington lobbyists over illegal contributions from the Ukraine Party of Regions and secretive group based in Belgium.
The report claims the following:
In 2013 and 2014, Jim Risch, Dana Rohrabacher and Ed Royce accepted contributions from a group of six lobbyists who were acting together. The lobbyists were foreign agents for the Ukraine Party of Regions and its front group, the European Centre For a Modern Ukraine. After making the contributions in their own names, the lobbyists were reimbursed by their foreign clients as part of a straw donor scheme.
At the time of the lobbying campaign, all of the lobbyists failed to register as foreign agents in violation of federal law. In 2017, the lobbyists belatedly admitted that they were foreign agents in filings made with the Department of Justice.
The payments were part of a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign orchestrated by Paul Manafort and his partner, Rick Gates. Manafort served as Donald Trump’s campaign manager in the summer of 2016. Vin Weber, a former Congressman, participated in the lobbying and influence peddling campaign. Weber is and was a partner in Mercury Public Affairs, a lobbying company based in Washington, D.C.
The contributions coincided with meetings between the lobbyists and Risch, Rohrabacher and Royce. In the meetings, the lobbyists were lobbying in the interest of the Ukraine President, Victor Yanukovych, and the Ukraine Party of Regions. At the times when Risch, Rohrabacher and Royce met with the lobbyists and accepted contributions from them, matters concerning the Ukraine were pending before their respective committees. Senator Risch was serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Representatives Rohrabacher and Royce were serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
We believe that Rohrabacher, Royce and Risch betrayed the United States and their own constituents by corruptly accepting thousands of dollars in illegal payments from foreign agents. We believe that Manafort, Weber and the other lobbyists, acting as intermediaries, illegally transferred campaign contributions from foreign nationals to elected officials in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
Although they have been notified about this matter, Rohrabacher and Royce have failed to return the contributions or pay them over to the United States Treasury. I believe they are corruptly keeping contributions that originated with foreign nationals in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
Stephanie Barnard, of Cincinnati, is a constituent of Representative Steve Chabot. Chabot, who was also a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, received a $500 contribution in 2014 from lobbyist Ed Kutler. This contribution may have illegally originated with the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine.
Massachusetts – Upon filing a complaint today with the Federal Elections Commission, the complainants released the following statements:
Carole Levers, of Yorba Linda, who is a constituent of Representative Ed Royce stated:
“It is illegal for a federal candidate to either directly or indirectly take money from a foreign national. In 2013, Representative Ed Royce met with a lobbyist who was a foreign agent of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. After the meeting, Royce accepted a $2,000 campaign contribution from the lobbyist. Royce also took $3,750 in contributions from other lobbyists from the same lobbying company shortly after the meeting. That’s corrupt.”
Thomas Giles, of Laguna Beach, is a constituent of Representative Dana Rohrabacher. He said:
“Members of Congress should be accountable to their constituents, not to foreign political parties and groups. On March 19, 2013, Dana Rohrabacher met with two lobbyists, Paul Manafort and Vin Weber, who were foreign agents of the Ukraine Party of Regions and the European Centre For a Modern Ukraine. Three days after the meeting, Rohrabacher took $2,000 in campaign contributions from Manafort and Weber. While he met with and took money from foreign agents, Rohrabacher has refused to meet with people like me who are his own constituents. Not only did he betray his constituents, he betrayed his country.”
J. Whitfield Larrabee, an ethics lawyer from Massachusetts, said:
“We filed this complaint because there is good reason to believe that foreign money had a corrupting influence on the deliberations of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. In order to prevent corruption, federal law prohibits foreign nationals from directly or indirectly making a contribution in connection with an election and it prohibits candidates from accepting or receiving such contributions.
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