Group demands full accounting of Laxalt’s correspondence with supporters of the Russian campaign


John Locher / AP

In this November 5, 2020 file photo, former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt speaks at a press conference outside the Clark County Election Department in Las Vegas.

The Nevada Democratic Victory, a group whose mission is to help the state’s Democratic candidates win their races, today filed for public registration with the state for details of the activities of former Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt during his failed 2018 campaign for governor.

Laxalt testified earlier this month in the federal trial of Lev Parnas, a Florida businessman who was convicted on Friday of embezzling more than $ 100,000 of Russian money in American political campaigns during of the same electoral cycle.

Laxalt, who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge outgoing Nevada Democratic Senator Cortez Masto in the 2022 midterm election, testified for about two hours on Oct. 15 in New York City about a campaign donation of $ 10,000 from Parnas’ colleague in Laxalt. Nevada Democratic Victory has asked Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office to obtain communication between Laxalt, the Attorney General’s office during Laxalt’s tenure, Trump’s advisers, and Russian conspirators.

Parnas and other co-conspirators had used money from a Russian donor to fund political contributions that they hoped would gain them political favor and help them with their marijuana joint venture plans, prosecutors say. federal.

“This is familiar territory for Laxalt, who was constantly embroiled in pay-to-play scandals while he was Nevada attorney general, as was (former President Donald) Trump,” said Andy Orellana. , senior communications advisor for Nevada Democratic Victory, in a statement. declaration. “Now that he is running for the US Senate, he will have to explain to the people of Nevada why they should trust him when he has shown that he will do literally anything for himself and his shady political donors. “

Laxalt’s campaign did not return requests for comment.

During his testimony, Laxalt explained how he met Parnas in 2018 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. There, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani invited Laxalt to a balcony where some people were smoking cigars and drinking drinks. Parnas was on the balcony and “immediately offered” to help Laxalt’s campaign, saying he would like to help raise funds in the final months of the race, Laxalt told jurors at the trial.

Parnas pledged $ 10,000 and offered to organize a fundraiser for Laxalt. But in the weeks that followed, the fundraiser never came to fruition and Laxalt seemed increasingly desperate to see a contribution from Parnas.

When Laxalt asked for money just days before the election, he received a text from Parnas referring to the Federal Election Commission litigation and saying his lawyer would not let Parnas or his wife make a contribution on their behalf.

Finally, a check for $ 10,000 from “Global Energy Producers” arrived. Prosecutors maintain that the money actually came from Russian financier Andrey Muraviev.

They also contributed to the campaign trail of Nevada Republican Attorney General candidate Wes Duncan, who also lost in the general election. Duncan and Laxalt both said they returned the money.

“We sought legal advice and returned the check for $ 10,000 to the US Treasury,” Laxalt said in his testimony.

Prosecutors did not allege that Laxalt or other candidates who received donations from Parnas and Fruman knew where the money came from.

“If you had believed this donation was from someone who was not a US citizen or green card holder, what would you have done? asked a prosecutor during his testimony.

“We certainly wouldn’t have accepted it,” replied Laxalt.

At the booth, Laxalt struggled to remember the details and order of events, like details of a dinner he had at Piero’s Italian Cuisine in Las Vegas with Parnas or the name of Parnas’ colleague, Fruman, who sent the $ 10,000.

Court documents also revealed text exchanges between Laxalt and Parnas, as well as WhatsApp messages between Parnas, Muraviev, Ukraine-born investor Andrey Kukushkin (who was also convicted), co-accused David Correia (who was sentenced to one year in prison) and Joseph Ahearn, chief financial officer of America First Action.

Some of those posts were about marijuana legislation, donor contributions, and a Laxalt campaign event that former Vice President Mike Pence was in on.

“Files revealed previously unreported meetings and exchanges between Laxalt and the men now facing charges, including Kukushkin who said Laxalt was ‘willing to help Vegas’ after a ‘good meeting’ with him during his tenure as attorney general, “the Nevada Democratic Victory public records request reads.

Records also revealed that Fruman said Laxalt had called him and that he “was personally waiting for us with his deputy, who would replace him when he became governor, to discuss our problem,” according to court documents. The men knew they missed the deadline to get a marijuana license, “unless we change the rules,” Kukushkin said in a message to Parnas, Muraviev and Fruman.

“We need the governor’s approval and the green light to implement this with the December licensing and to include ourselves in the plan. . . Kukuskhin wrote on October 24, 2018. About a week later, the $ 10,000 contribution went to Laxalt’s campaign.

These messages and Laxalt’s testimony left the court with “more questions than answers,” Nevada Democratic Victory said in an email.

The organization requests any correspondence mentioning or between Laxalt and Parnas, Fruman, Kukushkin, Muraviev, Correia and Ahern from January 5, 2015 to January 6, 2019, which was Laxalt’s tenure as attorney general. He also wants Laxalt’s full schedule for this period, all records regarding marijuana licenses during that period, and any correspondence between those people and the attorney general’s office.

“Given this new information indicating that Laxalt was supposed to be willing to help his donors obtain a marijuana license using the power of the governor’s office, or at least suggested to these men that he would be willing to help while they financially supported his campaign policy, we have reason to believe that this is a previously unreported scandal with particularly harmful actors, ”concludes the request.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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