Back in 2012, the Tennessee Democratic Party alleged that Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican running for the Senate, “met with accused spy master Alexander Torshin when he visited Williamson County — her home county — as an election observer, squired by her former campaign president, attorney, and friend G. Kline Preston IV. Blackburn’s actions speak much louder than her words.” You know Torshin: he’s the maybe-handler, maybe just close personal friend of accused Russian agent Maria Butina. He was definitely an election observer in Tennessee in 2012. He very definitely was at the NRA’s convention in Nashville in 2015.
He was there with G. Kline Preston, IV, a Nashville attorney who has Torshin as a client and friend. Some of his other clients: “Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and her son-in-law, Paul Ketchel, a Nashville healthcare entrepreneur.” Blackburn isn’t just any old client of Preston’s. He once served as her campaign finance chairman and is the former head of Marsha Blackburn for Congress, Inc. He’s also “the one who first introduced Torshin to NRA leadership.”
So Blackburn’s finance chairman and likely friend is also the friend of a Russian spy master who worked with Butina to infiltrate the NRA and was the one who got that whole ball rolling. By the way, he was working with Blackburn at least through 2014, two years after he may or may not have introduced Blackburn to Torshin. Got that. Previously, Preston has told ThinkProgress that he “viewed Russian President Vladimir Putin as ‘God-sent’ and a leader whose rise was ‘divine.'”
Blackburn, he said, doesn’t share his views on Russia, but that’s not necessarily based on her convictions or anything. “My hunch is, without having had any conversation with her, my hunch is that the Republican whips of the party, whatever, just dictate, ‘Look, here’s the way we are on this,'” he told TP. “She and I don’t share the same [policy preferences on Russia]. Maybe at some point when she wins the Senatorial election, you know, I may try to… (trails off).”
When she gets in the Senate, maybe she’ll just be another friend to Russia—that’s what her close adviser, friend, and former campaign finance chief posits. Yeah, that seems like well-founded speculation. What does Blackburn have to say about all this?
Nothing. And she hasn’t issued a denial, either.