October 10, 2019

Following Arrests, Ranking Member Klobuchar Urges Attorney General, Federal Election Commission to Investigate Rudy Giuliani for Potential Campaign Finance Violations

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections and the Federal Election Commission (FEC), sent a letter today to Attorney General William Barr and the FEC urging them to investigate whether Rudy Giuliani, the President’s personal lawyer, violated campaign finance laws and who is financing his efforts. Earlier today, two associates of Giuliani, who reportedly helped fund efforts to investigate one of President Donald Trump’s political rivals, were arrested on charges of campaign finance violations. Klobuchar has sent two letters to the FEC in recent weeks calling for more information regarding potential campaign finance violations by President Trump and his associates.

“As the Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections, I write to express significant concern regarding the recent arrests of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy Giuliani, for violations of U.S. campaign finance laws and to urge you to investigate who is financing Mr. Giuliani’s efforts and determine whether he also violated the law by soliciting foreign assistance in U.S. elections,” Klobuchar wrote.

“While Mr. Giuliani has stated that he is not paid by the federal government or the Trump Campaign, we have no information regarding who is funding his work. Mr. Giuliani’s actions on behalf of President Trump may constitute political activity, and yet reports indicate that there are no Federal Election Commission filings of Mr. Giuliani’s services being paid for by the campaign.  These discrepancies point to possible criminal or civil violations of federal campaign finance laws, which is why I am asking you to investigate the sources of Mr. Giuliani’s financing.”

On October 8, Klobuchar requested information from the FEC regarding how they previously defined a “thing of value” and “anything of value” and to provide information on all past instances in which these were applied for enforcing campaign finance law. The letter, sent to Chair Ellen Weintraub, follows a decision by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that the President did not violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) after prosecutors reviewed a rough transcript of a July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the DOJ and the FEC stipulates that when the DOJ declines to criminally prosecute a violation, but finds that there is a probable violation, the Department is required to refer the matter to the FEC. Reports indicate that the DOJ did not refer the matter. That letter followed an October 2 letter from Klobuchar to the FEC expressing concern about those reports and requesting further information.

The full text of today’s letter can be found below and HERE.

Dear Attorney General Barr and Commissioners:

As the Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections, I write to express significant concern regarding the recent arrests of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy Giuliani, for violations of U.S. campaign finance laws and to urge you to investigate who is financing Mr. Giuliani’s efforts and determine whether he also violated the law by soliciting foreign assistance in U.S. elections.

Today’s Department of Justice indictment details how Parnas and Fruman “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with the candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments.”  These men allegedly worked to undermine our democracy by setting up fake corporations to launder foreign money and funnel it into our election system. Their goal was to influence U.S. policy related to Ukraine, and in furtherance of that effort they contributed to several candidates for office, including to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, and to a pro-Trump super PAC.  The goal of the defendants and their ties to Ukrainian politicians and Russian businessmen should not be considered in a vacuum. 

Recent public reports, whistleblower complaints, and official documents from the White House detail the President’s efforts to solicit Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelensky to investigate a political rival. In the White House’s report of the July 25 call, the President makes it clear that he would direct Mr. Giuliani to coordinate with the Ukrainians in any potential investigation. News reports connect Parnas and Fruman directly to Mr. Giuliani and his efforts to follow through on the President’s orders.

Reports indicate that in the spring of 2019, Mr. Giuliani provided documents containing information on the President’s political rivals to the Department of State.  These documents also reportedly contained allegations of impropriety against former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.  Today’s indictment makes it clear that it was a primary goal of defendants Parnas and Fruman to remove Ambassador Yovanovitch from office. Reports also indicate that in May, Mr. Giuliani attempted to arrange a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but failed.  In August, Mr. Giuliani, with assistance from Ambassador Volker, arranged and held a meeting with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to President Zelensky.  Mr. Giuliani has claimed he was acting on behalf of the Department of State and that he received no payment for his services. 

As you know, 52 U.S.C. § 30121, bans on foreign contributions to U.S. elections and the solicitation of such contributions. Federal law also places limitations on donations to campaigns and requires campaigns to disclose their expenditures. While Mr. Giuliani has stated that he is not paid by the federal government or the Trump Campaign, we have no information regarding who is funding his work. Mr. Giuliani’s actions on behalf of President Trump may constitute political activity, and yet reports indicate that there are no Federal Election Commission filings of Mr. Giuliani’s services being paid for by the campaign.  These discrepancies point to possible criminal or civil violations of federal campaign finance laws, which is why I am asking you to investigate the sources of Mr. Giuliani’s financing. 

Today’s unsealed indictment reveals a conspiracy that offends the most basic principles of our democracy. When the Framers were drafting our Constitution there was significant concern over foreign interference in our elections and a recognition that foreign powers would want to influence our democracy. A healthy democracy demands transparency and meaningful regulations that limit the corrupting influence of money in politics. A democracy also requires equal enforcement of the law. The indictment raises questions regarding Mr. Giuliani’s connections to the defendants and Americans deserve to know whether the President’s lawyer is illegally soliciting the help of foreign citizens to the determinant of our democracy.

Sincerely,

###