CHICAGO — The Illinois Republican Party plans to donate the $661 it received nearly three years ago from one of the two Florida businessmen with ties to President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his push for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, according to the state GOP chairman.
Lev Parnas, who federal election records show donated the money to the local party, along with Igor Fruman were arrested and charged this week with alleged campaign finance violations. The charges relate to a $325,000 donation the men allegedly made to a group supporting Trump's reelection.
The Illinois Republican Party moved swiftly to distance itself from the two men.
"No one who works for or is associated with the ILGOP has ever met either of these two men," Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said in a statement. "It appears the contribution was received via a joint fundraising committee to which the Illinois Republican Party is a party. The Illinois Republican Party is party to a number of joint fundraising committees, including Take Back The House. In light of these circumstances, we will be donating $661 to a charity."
Records show that Parnas and Fruman used wire transfers from a corporate entity to make the $325,000 donation to the America First Action committee in May 2018. But wire transfer records that became public through a lawsuit show that the corporate entity reported as making the transaction was not the source of the money.
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The big donation to the Trump-allied PAC was part of a flurry of political spending tied to Parnas and Fruman, with at least $478,000 in donations flowing to GOP campaigns and PACs in little more than two months.
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The money enabled the relatively unknown entrepreneurs to quickly gain access to the highest levels of the Republican Party, including meetings with Trump at the White House and Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
This week, Parnas and Fruman were arrested trying to board an international flight with one-way tickets at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, authorities said. A four-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.
The men had key roles in Giuliani's efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Giuliani's efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation were echoed by Trump in his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The Associated Press reported last week that Parnas and Fruman helped arrange a January meeting in New York between Ukraine's former top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, and Giuliani, as well as other meetings with top government officials.
A whistleblower complaint by an unnamed intelligence official makes reference to "associates" of Giuliani in Ukraine who were attempting to make contact with Zelenskiy's team, though it's not clear if that refers to Parnas and Fruman.
Associated Press contributed.