A spokesperson for Governor Ron DeSantis says the governor is returning a political contribution he received from two Soviet-born businessmen who are now accused of funneling foreign cash into U.S. elections for personal and business purposes.
According to reports, South Florida residents Alex Parnas and Igor Fruman donated $50,000 to the Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee on June 21 of last year, through a company called Global Energy Producers.
DeSantis spokeswoman Helen Ferré says, “The allegations regarding Global Energy Producers to the Governor’s affiliated political action committee in 2018 is troubling. Therefore, Governor DeSantis is directing the political action committee to return the money to the federal government.” She adds that DeSantis had not met with pair, and the donation was made the day before President Trump endorsed DeSantis.
The Florida Democratic Party is asking DeSantis to donate the money to charity.
Campaign finance records also show Fruman made these contributions:
-$25,000 to Florida Grown, which is a political action committee affiliated with Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, on June 26, 2018.
-$20,400 to Senator Rick Scott’s campaign in May 2018, and $2,400 to Republican Congressman Brian Mast between March and June of last year.
Mast’s spokesman, Brad Stewart, says the congressman will also return the money he received to either charity or the treasury. He adds, “Until today, we had no idea who he was,” in reference to Fruman.
Parnas and Fruman were arrested on Wednesday night at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, while they were attempting to leave the country with one-way tickets. They are facing charges including conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.
The indictment states the men made political contributions “for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian government officials, including at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working.”
Records show they used wire transfers from their corporate entity to donate $325,000 to the pro-President Donald Trump America First Action committee last year.