Elections

US Rep. Joe Wilson received donations from man indicted in foreign money scheme

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson’s re-election campaign may have received donations of foreign money from a man trying to influence U.S. relations with Ukraine, according to Federal Elections Commission filings and an unsealed indictment.

Wilson — a South Carolina Republican who represents parts of Aiken, Barnwell, Lexington, Orangeburg and Richland counties — received two $2,700 donations from Igor Fruman, a U.S. businessman born in Belarus, which shares borders with Russia and Ukraine. Fruman is accused of funneling foreign dollars into U.S. campaigns and was arrested Wednesday.

The donations were both made June 12, 2018, according to FEC filings.

Wilson will return the money as soon as he can, the congressman’s spokeswoman McLaurine Klinger said Friday. Wilson’s campaign raised more than $1.2 million in total for his 2018 re-election.

“Congressman Wilson does not accept contributions from any donor that is known as improper,” Wilson’s campaign spokeswoman Desiree Watson said in a statement.

Wilson is a senior member of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee who, like South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, has made international relations a centerpiece of his legislative portfolio.

To that end, it makes sense that Wilson might have been a recipient of money from Fruman, who also gave donations to U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, the chamber’s top Republican, and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., among other current and former congressional lawmakers.

Fruman was arrested Wednesday along with Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born American citizen. Both men have connections to President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, according to reporting by The Washington Post. The pair were aiding Giuliani’s efforts to convince Ukrainian officials to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son as well as claims that Democrats conspired with Ukrainians in 2016, according to The Post.

The two men are charged with violating campaign finance laws by taking money from foreign entities and making donations to American candidates to “buy potential influence with candidates, campaigns and the candidates’ governments,” according to a four-count indictment in the Southern District of New York.

Emily Bohatch helps cover South Carolina’s government for The State. She also updates The State’s databases. Her accomplishments include winning a Green Eyeshade award in Disaster Reporting in 2018 for her teamwork reporting on Hurricane Irma. She has a degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.
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