Marina Nevskaya and Alexander Koulakovsky, two executives of the Russian energy company Naftasib with close ties to the Russian government and security services, appear to have funneled at least that much money to three DC GOP lobbyists between 1997 and 2004.
Almost $3.4 million went to Jack Abramoff and Ed Buckham of Alexander Strategy Group, arguably the two most powerful Republican lobbyists in town at the time, both with close ties to dethroned House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).
So what were Nevskaya and Koulakovsky looking to buy?
Let’s break it down.
Way back in 1997 and 1998, Naftasib used a Bahamian company called Chelsea Enterprises for its purposes. Besides $440,000 in lobbying fees paid through the company to Abramoff ($260K) and another lobbyist ($180K), they spent at least $57,238 paying for a trip to Russia by Tom DeLay and four of his staff. The details are murky. But this April 2005 article from the Post puts Naftasib at the center of that operation and strongly suggests that Naftasib and its two executives were the ultimate source of the cash.
Also in 1998, there was the $1 million that the pair funneled through a London law firm to the US Family Network, a front operation run by Buckham for various political work on behalf of Tom DeLay and others.
Finally, with yesterday’s Boston Globe story, we can add another $2.12 million paid to Abramoff through a Dutch front called Voor Huisen.
We’ve just added the lobbying disclosure documents for Voor Huisen to the TPM Document Collection. There you can see two $300K payments in 2001, two $300K payments in 2002, one $600K and one $300K payment in 2003, and then a meager $20K in 2004, when Abramoff was forced to leave Greenberg Traurig. As the Globe reports, “Abramoff resigned from Greenberg Traurig in March 2004. Within days, Voor Huisen was dissolved, according to Dutch records.”
The question of the hour, of course, is just what the Russians were after, especially since, in every case, Naftasib’s true role as the source of the money remained hidden.
A wide assortment of lobbying issues are listed on the various forms, including things like “promote pilot housing loan program in Russia,” and others as vague as “Appropriations Matters.” We also know that, according to Christopher Geeslin of the U.S. Family Network, the $1 million in 1998 was meant to “influence DeLay’s vote in 1998 on legislation that helped make it possible for the IMF to bail out the faltering Russian economy.” (DeLay did in fact vote for it.)
In any case, a million here and a million there and suddenly you’re talking real money, even in Washington.
What did they get for it?