Between 2015-2017, A Putin-Linked Oligarch Donated $7.35M To GOP Candidates
President Donald Trump and several prominent Republican lawmakers took in donations from a Ukrainian-born oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a 2018 Dallas News analysis.
The report reveals that “Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions” from Len Blavatnik between 2015 and 2017.
Blavatnik, a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen who is the business partner of two of Putin's favorite oligarchs and also has ties to a Russian government bank, did little in the way of campaign contributions prior to 2015.
Federal Election Commission data going back to 2009-2010 show that his political contributions “were fairly balanced across party lines and relatively modest for a billionaire,” Dallas News noted.
That changed as Trump began his run for president.
During the 2016 election season, Blavatnik donated $6.35 million to GOP political action committees. In 2017, he contributed $41,000 to both Republican and Democrat candidates, and sent $1 million to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund.
While none of these donations are illegal, Blavatnik’s contribution activities — particularly given the timing — raise concerns, in no small part due to his connections to Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg.
Who are these Russian men?
Deripaska, said to be one of Putin’s favorite oligarchs, is the founder of Rusal, the second largest aluminum company in the world.
“Len Blavatnik owns a significant stake in RUSAL and served on its Board until November 10, 2016, two days after Donald Trump was elected,” Dallas News reported. Further, “Deripaska has been closely connected to the Kremlin since he married into Boris Yeltsin's family in 2001, which literally includes him in the Russian clan known as ‘The Family.’"
Starting in 2006, Deripaska began paying former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort $10 million a year to advance Russia’s interests in the West — payments made through the Bank of Cyprus.
Vekselberg is a long-time business partner of Blavatnik, with the two men holding a 20.5 percent stake in Rusal. Vekselberg, who met his Ukrainian-born partner while attending university in Russia, began working with Blavatnik as early as 1990, when the two “co-founded the Renova Group for large-scale investments in energy, infrastructure, aluminum and other metals.”
Coincidentally, he is also the largest shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus.