Onetime Republican congressional candidate H. Russell Taub illegally sought help from Russian authorities during this failed attempt to unseat gay Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island in 2016, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Taub, 33, has been imprisoned after he was convicted of defrauding political donors a few years ago.
In recently unearthed documents from the FEC first reported by The Providence Journal, U.S. officials say Taub sent a direct message to a Twitter account known to be used by Russian intelligence, Guccifer 2.0.
“Can you get a list of Republican donors for me. I am running for office myself,” Taub asked the account. “I could use your help to defeat [Cicilline].”
He then told the account that a donor list would help to “raise some money to put against [Cicilline] ... if I had the resources I can win.”
According to the FEC documents, Guccifer 2.0 replied, “It seems i have a dossier on cicilline ... I can send u a dossier via email.”
Taub sent the email address email@example.com for receipt of the dossier. Guccifer 2.0 sent several documents to the email address, including three opposition research reports, polling data, news articles, and one of Cicilline’s U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Statements.
Taub violated U.S. campaign laws “by knowingly soliciting, accepting or receiving a prohibited in-kind foreign national contribution in the form of opposition research related to the candidate’s opponent,” according to the FEC.
The FEC settled with Taub and he admitted wrongdoing. Due to financial issues, he was excused from paying a $31,000 fine.
Federal campaign law prohibits any “foreign national” from directly or indirectly contributing or donating funds or other things of value in connection with elections. It also bars anyone from knowingly soliciting, accepting, or receiving any such contribution or donation from a foreign national, The Providence Journal reports.
In 2019, Taub pleaded guilty to wire fraud and campaign finance violations. He was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to repay the $1.1 million that he took in through unregistered political action committees. He also admitted to raising $1.6 million in donations and using more than $1 million of the money on cigars, meals, clothes, airfare, strip clubs, and escorts, among other personal uses and items.