Gov. Ron DeSantis will return the $50,000 he received as a contribution from two South Florida businessmen who helped President Donald Trump’s personal attorney look into his political opponents in Ukraine
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested Wednesday night and charged with attempting to funnel foreign money into U.S. politics. The alleged scheme included straw donations in which the duo masked the source of their political contributions by sending them through a newly formed Delaware corporation.
In June of 2018, they gave DeSantis $50,000 through a company called Global Energy Producers. They made the contribution one day before Trump endorsed DeSantis for Florida governor.
“The allegations regarding Global Energy Producers to the governor’s affiliated political action committee in 2018 are troubling,” DeSantis spokeswoman Helen Ferré wrote in an email Thursday. “Therefore, Governor DeSantis is directing the political action committee to return the money to the federal government.”
The men were arrested Wednesday night as prosecutors say they were trying to leave the country on a one-way flight out of Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Prosecutors say Fruman and Parnas made donations to federal political committees through Global Energy Producers that were, in fact, funded by “a private lending transaction between Fruman and third parties.”
The indictment does not mention any contributions to Florida campaigns.
DeSantis announced his plans to return the money after the Miami Herald published a story detailing that Parnas, a Rudy Giuliani associate, raised money for DeSantis’ campaign last year.
Parnas, one of two South Florida businessmen called to testify before Congress as part of an impeachment investigation, hosted two fundraisers for DeSantis in the summer and fall of 2018, the Miami Herald reported Thursday.
One of the events was an exclusive affair held at a South Florida residence with fewer than 30 people attending, including the governor. The other gathering was headlined by Donald Trump Jr.