The Rudy Giuliani associates charged with conspiring to mask foreign political donations, among other things, were filmed at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) victory party in 2018.
In a video filmed by Reuters’ Joey Roulette, which he flagged Monday, Parnas is seen at the right shoulder of current Florida first lady Casey DeSantis.
Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas, one of two Giuliani associates arrested last week and charged for scheming to funnel foreign money into various US elections, is seen (on the left) in this Nov 6 2018 video I took at Governor Ron DeSantis' election victory party in Orlando. pic.twitter.com/d9MkfQUbD7
— Joey Roulette (@joroulette) October 14, 2019
The Tampa Bay Times also resurfaced a photo the paper took at the party with Parnas and DeSantis. The man taking a photo with a phone in the background appears to be Parnas’ partner in (alleged) crime Igor Fruman.
Here's a photo of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on his election night face to face with Giuliani associate/Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas. It was captured by our @TB_TimesCurso. https://t.co/3lsGstlO1M pic.twitter.com/i5qJPvxdBd
— Steve Contorno (@scontorno) October 14, 2019
A spokesperson for DeSantis told the paper that the election night event was “open to the public” and that “the governor knows Parnas through Republican campaign events in 2018.”
“Governor DeSantis has not met one-on-one with Parnas and has not seen or spoken to him since taking office,” the spokesperson, Helen Aguirre Ferré, added.
Following a report from the Miami Herald that Parnas co-hosted two fundraisers for DeSantis, DeSantis’ office said he would return a $50,000 donation from the company Parnas and Fruman created to allegedly shield the true source of donations, Global Energy Producers.
One of the two events Parnas hosted for DeSantis in 2018, the Herald reported, included fewer than 30 people. In addition to Parnas, per the Herald, GOP donor Harry Sargeant co-hosted the event.
The Associated Press recently reported that Parnas, Fruman and Sargeant had met with a senior executive from the Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz about a proposal to install him as CEO of the company and then to pursue a deal in which the U.S. would export natural gas to Ukraine. (A lawyer for Sargeant confirmed his attendance at the meeting to the AP, but denied that Sargeant “discussed any role or participation in any Ukraine venture.”)
The other fundraiser featured Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. An advertisement for the event included in the Herald’s report lists Parnas as one of six people in the “Donald Trump Jr. Executive Steering Committee.”
Per the federal indictment against the two men, they used the donations to ingratiate themselves to various politicians. In addition to DeSantis, Parnas and Fruman’s donations also helped DeSantis’ primary opponent, Adam Putnam, and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the Herald reported.
One of the other two men charged in the indictment against Parnas and Fruman, businessman Andrey Kukushkin, has been arrested. The other, Florida-based Parnas associate David Correia, remains at large.