This week Mariia Butina, the Ginny Weasley of illegally acting as a foreign agent, has understandably sucked a lot of air out of the room with her sudden arrest and the revelation that the FBI has long had her in its sights.
But her sidekick, her main squeeze, the Harry to her Ginny, Paul Erickson has his own alleged part in the plot and an absolutely bonkers backstory to boot.
Note: Erickson was not explicitly named in the charges brought against Butina, but the description seems to closely match his history and role in her life.
Erickson has had a long and storied past, getting his start in politics through college Republicans. His career since then has been varied and often bizarre, including writing a comedy routine to help get Ronald Reagan reelected, producing an anti-communism film and being an agent for John Wayne Bobbitt, a Virginia native who experienced an abrupt separation from a much-valued body part (a.k.a. his wife hacked off his penis while he was sleeping).
More recently, he tried to make inroads with the Trump campaign, offering Russian contacts he said he made through the NRA. It is not clear how the campaign responded to the email.
But in between the penis publicity and support of brutal dictators, Erickson still found time to fall in love. He and Butina met in Moscow in 2013. The gun lovers’ eyes locked above the racks of AK-47s and grenade launches and bang — shot to the heart.
Soon after, Erickson allegedly poured his energies into helping his radiant Russian, who was having trouble getting a visa, get into the U.S. of A.
During one of her visits on a tourist visa in 2015, Erickson took his lady love to a rustic and romantic getaway: a summer camp to teach kiddies the importance of sharing, responsibility and the unalienable right of a civilian to own a military-grade weapon.
When, according to court documents, Butina and the puppet masters pulling her strings decided that it was time for her to settle in America permanently, Erickson did what every good boyfriend does and bought her flowers and some LLCs, which he claims were set up to help her pay for grad school.
From day to night, he transitioned from doting boyfriend to dedicated teacher, reportedly completing homework assignments for his 30-years-younger girlfriend. He couldn’t remember how to do the math.
The great love story of our time was on track to progress — boxes were packed, U-Hauls were loaded. The lovebirds were ready to take on the big metropolitan hub of glitz, glamor and life in the fast lane: Sioux City.
At the last minute, FBI agents (noted buzzkills) swooped in and arrested Butina, giving her a new outfit to match her hair.
Erickson was bereft.
When the court action started and his sweetheart sat and watched as prosecutors laid out damning evidence of her efforts to influence GOP bigwigs on behalf of Russian operatives, Erickson was (probably) paddle boarding in a sea of his own tears — but he still had their love as his rock, his solace, his reason for being.
Until one lawyer, innocuous looking in a tailored suit and shiny shoes, uttered a devastating, shattering, earth-shaking word: “disdain.” He said that privately, Butina had expressed “disdain” at the idea of living with and being with Erickson. In a shocking turn of events, it seemed that she was spending her 20s dating someone in his 50s with an ulterior motive. Crushing.
No charges have been brought against Erickson yet. So far, he has escaped the fate of his once beloved, who sits behind bars waiting for her trial to begin. But free or imprisoned, Erickson still has to bear the greatest suffering of all: a broken heart.
For getting the ultimate, public, humiliating “she’s just not that into you” by a bunch of lawyers, Paul Erickson is our Duke of the Week.