Disgraced Rhode Island Republican illegally sought help from Russian intelligence in 2016: FEC

Disgraced Rhode Island Republican illegally sought help from Russian intelligence in 2016: FEC
H. Russell Taub in 2015, Wikimedia Commons
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Rep. David Cicilline enjoyed a landslide reelection when he defeated Republican challenger H. Russell Taub by 29% in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District. But that defeat was the least of Taub’s problems: Taub, in 2019, was sent to prison for defrauding donors and committing wire fraud. And now, the Federal Election Commission is saying that Taub illegally sought help from Russian government intelligence during his 2016 campaign.

The Providence Journal’s Alex Kuffner reports, “A few months before the November 2016 general election, Taub sent a direct message to a Twitter account known to be used by the GRU, Russia’s main intelligence agency, according to a recently released FEC filing. In the message to Guccifer 2.0, Taub asked for a list of Republican donors.”

Taub, Kuffner adds, “later received a dossier that included opposition research reports, polling data and other information about his incumbent Democratic opponent in the 1st Congressional District race.”

According to the FEC, Taub violated federal campaign law “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.”

Taub, now 33, was 30 when, on July 24, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that he had been sentenced to three years in federal prison for defrauding donors — a crime he pled guilty to along with wire fraud.

Under federal campaign finance law, campaign donations must be used for campaigns, not personal expenses. But Taub admitted to using more than $1 million in campaign money for everything from strip clubs to clothes to cigars.

Taub was released from prison on January 13, according to Kuffner.

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