U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker will "absolutely and immediately" return campaign contributions sent to him during the 2018 election cycle by a South Florida businessman who allegedly circumvented Federal Elections Commission rules to contribute foreign money and influence into state and federal elections.
Igor Fruman contributed approximately $2,500 to Smucker’s campaign in two contributions -- one totaling $260 on May 14, 2018 and another on June 12, 2018 totaling $2,174. Fruman contributed under the alias “Igor Furman,” according to FEC filings, which is against campaign finance regulations.
"Under no circumstances does Smucker for Congress knowingly accept improper campaign contributions," the Smucker campaign said in a statement, adding that the contribution came to the campaign unsolicited through a joint fundraising committee. Smucker never met with Fruman or his associates, the campaign added.
Fruman and his business partner Lev Parnas were arrested on campaign finance charges at Dulles International Airport in Alexandria, Virginia, Thursday with one-way international tickets, prosecutors from the Southern District of New York announced today in a press conference. Two others were indicted as part of this investigation.
Fruman and Parnas helped Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to investigate Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, the New York Times reported. Both businessmen are U.S. citizens but foreign born; Parnas was born in Ukraine and Fruman was born in Belarus, according to the indictment.
Giuliani has come under fire for his work as President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and his attempts to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens for Trump’s alleged political gain.
The federal indictment alleges Parnas and Fruman “began attending political fundraising events in connection with federal actions and making substantial contributions to candidates, joint fundraising committees and independent expenditure committees with the purpose of enhancing their influence in political circles and gaining access to politicians.”
Fruman also contributed approximately the same amount of money to U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, PA-01. Fruman sent almost identical contributions to both Smucker and Fitzpatrick’s congressional campaigns on June 12, 2018, along with a $50,000 contribution to Protect the House, a joint fundraising committee for state Republican parties and candidates.
Fitzpatrick's campaign wrote in an email the contribution will be "immediately donated to charity."
"With this and any other instance where an unsolicited contribution from an unknown donor is made, and wrongdoing is discovered, the money is instantly donated to charity," the Fitzpatrick campaign said.
Fruman and Parnas also created a limited liability corporation named Global Energy Producers to “intentionally” contribute to campaigns in the LLC’s name, instead of their own in an effort to exceed federal maximum contribution limits.
Another congressman, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, announced he will immediately return the $5,400 in contributions he received from the indicted businessmen, the Post and Courier reported.