Jim White at Emptywheel, with big assists from three commenters (FoggyCoast, Fluffytung, and Kate) has put together an amazing story connecting the cast of characters in the Ukraine extortion scheme to the resignation of Peter King. In the process, several more characters seem to be entangled in the scandal. I want to reiterate, all credit is due to them, and—even more so—to the reporters at Roll Call and elsewhere who expended the shoe leather. [Also see Roger Sollenberger of Salon who independently put together the whole story a couple of days later] I’m just creating a summary of their work.
Jim started from a NYT article by Ken Vogel, Ben Protess, and Sarah Maslin Nir in the NYT which says that in September/October 2018, New York lawyer/businessman Charles Gucciardo (see photo here) provided the $500,000 that Lev Parnas used for the Ukraine venture. The NYT in effect absolved Gucciardo of wrongdoing, but that seems to be premature. At the behest of Rudy Giuliani, Gucciardo invested into Lev Parnas’s Fraud Guarantee using a loan convertible into an ownership stake. Gucciardo passed the payment to Fraud Guarantee through Giuliani Partners.
This is stunning on a number of levels. First, Fraud Guarantee was a shell company (subsidiary to Fruman and David Correia’s Strategic Global Assets) that had been dissolved by the state of Florida four years earlier, in September 2014 for failure to make a filing. Strategic Global Assets had been dissolved in September 2016 for failing to make a filing. It had also been sued for failure to pay rent, and a summary judgment for $26K plus interest had been issued against the company. To rule out the possibility that companies with those names had been set up in other states, Joshua Eaton and Ed Timms of Roll Call CQ further examined filings nationwide. A Strategic Global Assets in Delaware had been dissolved in 2014 for failing to register an agent. A Strategic Global Assets in New York had changed its name to Boone Strategic Ventures in 2010.
Second, another Fruman/Parnas company, Global Energy Producers (formed in Delaware April 2018) had been a huge ($325K to America First Action, Inc.) pro-Trump donor and Fruman had been donating to Republicans including Trump since 2016. A complaint was filed against it at the FEC in July 2018. The complaint alleged that there was no way that Global Energy Producers could have contributed that much money out of its operating funds; it had to be a straw donation. AmericaFirst claims that the donation came from Aaron Investments, a company managed by Parnas. But this is tricky anyway, because, according to Bart Jansen, Kevin Johnson, and Kevin McCoy of USAToday Parnas had taken $325K from the Pues family to make a movie in 2011, and a court had ordered him to repay $510K plus interest in March, 2016. So, money that was free for contributions should have been available to pay back what Parnas owed.
Therefore, for Gucciardo, a lawyer, to have failed to do the slightest due diligence before making a huge investment to discover the FEC filing, the failure to pay rent, the dissolution of Fraud Guarantee (!), and especially the vulnerability of Parnas’s donation to be seized is not plausible. And, as Jim White points out, Giuliani was probably trying to shield assets from his wife, who was divorcing him.
As commenters at Jim White’s post at Emptywheel began researching the issue, they began to discover additional interesting connections. Pete T noted that Dave Goldiner of the Daily News reported that Anthony Scaramucci, Mike Huckabee, gastroenterologist/Orthodox macher/Qatari agent Joseph Frager (see also here) had visited Jerusalem, meeting with Yair Netanyahu. According to White commenter Fluffytung, there’s still a video of Huckabee and his band playing during that trip here even though the media has disappeared from elsewhere:
Spotted in Jerusalem: @USAmbIsrael David Friedman filming @GovMikeHuckabee playing Sweet Home Alabama at BBQ hosted by Simon Falic in Jerusalem. Also there @Scaramucci, @netanyahuyair @ChaninaSperlin, @YLefkowitz,, Lev Parnas, Dr. Joe Frager pic.twitter.com/cZv2Cp0XRA
— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) July 29, 2018
And Drew mentioned that Salon reported that Christianne Allen was an intern with Gucciardo and worked with Giuliani as a social media consultant.
…This pic of Gucciardo w/his arm around Christianne would get a man kicked out of the Senate (Sheree Saber is the other woman)…. pic.twitter.com/yIc0IcLG1U
— mrs panstreppon (@mrspanstreppon) November 10, 2019
“You know,” Giuliani says at the start of the recording. “Charles would have a hard time with a fraud case ’cause he didn’t do any due diligence.”
Roger Sollenberger of Salon thinks that Charles is Charles Gucciardo. And, not to take anything away from him, but it was also figured out two days before he published by some very smart people on the Internet.
And the connection to Peter King? Sollenberger gets this one too:
Gucciardo's son interned for Rep. Pete King in spring of this year, six months after Gucciardo paid Giuliani $500,000 *and* donated to King for the first time – even though King represented Gucciardo's district for 28 years and Gucciardo lived there for decades https://t.co/stYbA6jemj
— Roger Sollenberger (@SollenbergerRC) November 11, 2019