GOP donor Russell Taub indicted for paying himself $1 million through ‘scam PAC’
A former Republican congressional candidate and major 2018 GOP donor has been indicted for using a super PAC to funnel more than $1 million in contributions to himself.
Rhode Island political consultant Russell Taub was charged last week by the U.S. Justice Department on single counts of wire fraud and violating federal election law and has already agreed to a plea deal, the Providence Journal reported late on Wednesday.
Prosecutors allege Taub raised $1.6 million through his supposed super PAC Keeping America in Republican Control PAC (KAIRC) and a similarly-named Ohio PAC, then transferred roughly $815,000 to himself and spent another $217,000 on personal expenses which included visits to the strip club and “escort services.”
Roughly $1.3 million of the groups’ funds came from an unidentified Ohio couple.
KAIRC was never registered with the FEC and there is no trace of the PAC in FEC records. Though there is no evidence the supposed super PAC tried to help GOP candidates, Taub himself started to contribute heavily to candidates after soliciting contributions to the PAC.
With extra cash on hand, Taub transformed into a major Republican donor, personally contributing more than $360,000 to GOP candidates and groups during the 2018 cycle. That’s a major step up from previous cycles in which Taub gave a total of just $6,025.
Taub gave more then $5,000 to several GOP candidates up for House and Senate, including nearly $5,400 to Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) who has also been indicted for misusing political funds. He gave to several Republican joint fundraising committees, including $20,400 to former Rep. Jim Renacci’s (R-Ohio) victory fund.
It doesn’t appear Taub had many assets before creating KAIRC. According to a 2015 financial disclosure, Taub reporting making just $15,500 per year in salary and reported one asset valued between $1,001 and $15,000.
Along with his bank account, Taub’s influence grew as he took in cash from the PAC and contributed to GOP candidates. On his Facebook page, Taub poses for pictures with a number of Republican leaders and legislators in 2018, including former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).
Though his PAC didn’t appear to make any ads, Taub in May 2018 posted an apparent political ad on his Facebook page that criticizes the Rhode Island congressional delegation for collaborating with “Nazi Collaborator George Soros” among other things. The video simply says it is paid for by Russell Taub, rather than KAIRC.
KAIRC came under fire in July 2018 when Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, the conservative watchdog group formerly run by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, filed an FEC complaint calling it a “scam PAC.”
In his fundraising appeals to potential donors, Taub reportedly used the name of former secretary of the Navy and Rhode Islander J. William Middendorf and continued to through November despite cease and desist letters from the lawyer for a “former ambassador and high-level military officer.”
Taub also has a brief history as a candidate, running unsuccessfully for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District seat in 2016. Taub spent just $100,816 and paid $18,939 to himself for various expenses.
Under the proposed plea deal with DOJ, Taub would forfeit funds he received through his PACs and pay restitution to the victims of the scam PAC. Though Taub faces a maximum of 25 years in prison, prosecutors are recommending a reduced sentence under the deal.
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