The Phoenix Flyer

Reports: Ukraine scandal figures have Florida ties, gave campaign money to DeSantis, Scott

By: - October 10, 2019 2:09 pm

President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis. Governor’s office photo

Update: Gov. Ron DeSantis directed his political action committee Thursday to turn over to the federal government the donation, telling the Miami Herald through his spokeswoman that he viewed the  gift as “troubling.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis should rid himself of “dirty money” donated by two Soviet-born, south Florida businessmen arrested Wednesday night on campaign-finance charges linked to allegations of presidential abuse of power, Florida’s Democratic Party chief said Thursday.

“From lobbyists paying tens of thousands of dollars to dine or play golf with DeSantis, to taking money from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, it is alarming how he conducts himself,” the party chairwoman, Terrie Rizzo, said of the governor.

“DeSantis should take the $50,000 in donations he received from Parnas and Fruman and donate it to charity immediately,” she said.

Parnas and Fruman were arrested under federal indictments alleging they made illegal donations to pro-Trump super PAC America First Action through their Global Energy Producers – a company that donated $50,000 to DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign last year. Parnas, Fruman, and their company also donated to Republicans Rick Scott, former Florida governor and now U.S. senator, and Adam Putnam, DeSantis’ rival in the governor’s race.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. A DeSantis spokewoman previously told the Miami Herald DeSantis has had little contact with Parnas or Fruman.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that prosecutors believe Parnas and Fruman helped funnel money from a Russian donor into U.S. elections.

Parnas and Fruman defied requests to testify this week before U.S. House committees about their endeavors in Ukraine on behalf of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani – part of the investigation arising from whistleblower complaints that Trump used his office to pressure Ukraine leaders to search for political dirt on Trump’s political opponents. Parnas and Fruman claim they had access to such information.

As previously reported in the Miami Herald, Parnas hosted two high-dollar fundraisers for DeSantis last year and donated $50,000 to his political committee through Global Energy Producers. The indictment against Parnas and Fruman says they illegally funneled money through that same company to the Trump-aligned super PAC to advance “their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official for whom they were working.”

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]