The embarrassing picture that’s already painting a thousand words in Nevada Republican Adam Laxalt’s latest political campaign is now augmented by text messages.
Laxalt’s race to unseat Democrat incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto is shadowed by the grip-and-grin photograph he posed for at a Venetian fundraiser during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign flanked by accused campaign finance schemers Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
In a business where impressions matter, communications emerging from an illegal campaign contribution trial in federal court are not helpful. The “straw donor” case is revealing confident men who believed their donations to Laxalt would throw open doors to their plans to enter Nevada’s lucrative marijuana market despite the fact that they had already missed the legal deadline. They also made donations to Republican attorney general candidate Wes Duncan.
Laxalt and Duncan would go on to lose their elections, but Parnas, Fruman and others wound up on government and press radar for their suspicious political generosity.
The Soviet-born Parnas and Ukraine-born investor Andrey Kukushkin are on trial in the Southern District of New York for making illegal campaign contributions to further their business interests. It’s alleged Parnas and Fruman were funded with up to $1 million by high-flying Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev.
Prosecutors haven’t alleged that Laxalt and other politicians on the receiving end of the political largesse knew the money came from a prohibited source. Moneyman Muraviev is not charged in the case.
Fruman pleaded guilty in September to soliciting illegal campaign contributions. Fellow co-defendant David Correia in October 2020 pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission. Communications produced this week from Parnas and Fruman reveal Correia and Fruman as central figures in the straw donor conspiracy. Duncan and Laxalt came out with statements saying they returned the money.