On Nov. 13, 2013, according to Federal Election Commission records, Idaho U.S. Sen. Jim Risch met with three lobbyists from Mercury Public Affairs, Vin Weber, Ed Kutler and Michael McSherry. They were lobbying on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a “think tank” set up by Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to front for Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russia Party of Regions.
On Dec. 4, 2013, Weber, Kutler and McSherry each contributed $1,000 to the Jim Risch for U.S. Senate Committee. In early 2014, Mercury was reimbursed for the lobbyists’ contributions with funds laundered through the ECFMU, which can be traced back to Ukrainian/Russian oligarchs.
U.S. law prohibits elected officials from receiving campaign contributions from foreign nationals, or contributions made by one person in the name of another. As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Risch must be particularly aware of these restrictions, yet he accepted the money.
Risch is said to be in line to chair this committee. Should someone who took $3,000 from questionable sources through Paul Manafort’s straw-donor scheme be allowed to assume a seat once occupied with integrity by Idaho’s Frank Church and Arkansas’ William Fulbright?
Gary E. Richardson, Boise