A Republican who tried to unseat out Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) in 2016 illegally tried to get Russia to help him win his election, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Republican H. Russel Taub ran against Cicilline and received only 35% of the vote in that year’s general election after running unopposed in the Republican primary – but not before he sent messages to a Twitter account used by Russian intelligence agency GRU.
“I could use your help to defeat cicilline,” Taub wrote the Russian intel agency, asking for a list of Republican donors.
What he received was a foreign intelligence dossier with opposition research on Cicilline, polling data, and other information. The information was “apparently stolen from the GRU’s various election-related hacking targets.”
The FEC found that Taub violated federal law “by knowingly soliciting, accepting, or receiving a prohibited in-kind foreign national contribution in the form of opposition research related to the candidate’s opponent.”
Taub admitted wrongdoing to settle the case against him. That settlement included him paying a $31,000 fine, which was waived due to “financial hardship” and the restitution he’s still on the hook for from another conviction.
Taub got sentenced to three years in prison in 2019 after he pled guilty to wire fraud and campaign finance charges. He was also ordered to pay $1.1 million that he illegally took. He admitted to using about that much in unregistered PAC money on cigars, food, clothes, strip clubs, sex workers, and other personal uses.
His unregistered PAC was named “Keeping Ohio in Republican Control” – even though he was running for office in Rhode Island – because a wealthy couple in Ohio supported his campaign and he wanted to get more contributions from them.