Ex-Soviet Blavatnik Funding Anti-Russian U.S. Politicians on Both Sides of the Aisle

By Llewellyn Hinkes Jones

A Soviet-born U.K. and U.S. businessman, Leonard Blavatnik, who was Britain’s richest man at a time, substantially funds a wide array of U.S. federal politicians that are vocal against the threat of Russia.

Blavatnik, along with his family members and his private company Access Industries, have donated almost $3.6 million to candidate committees in recent years—as well as millions more to party PACs and Super PACs—and those candidates also happen to be very outspoken about the Russia investigation, some actively introducing or supporting bills to specifically sanction Russia.

This includes Democratic senators like Charles Schumer (Dem.-NY) and Republicans like Lindsey Graham (Rep.-SC), ex-senators Al Franken (Dem.-MN) and Evan Bayh (Rep.-IN), and presidential candidates like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney.

Barack Obama and Joseph Biden’s campaign committee was the largest recipient of over $276,000. While president, Obama first instituted sanctions on Russia over the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Charles Schumer (Dem.-NY)—who has been at the forefront of pushing for investigations into Russian collusion, election interference, as well as support for sanctions—was the second largest recipient of Blavatnik-Access Industries contributions with $122,000 in total.

No donations were given to President Trump’s campaign committee, but they were given to Trump’s inauguration committee.

Donations more often went to Democrats, but they also went to a select number of Republicans uniquely vocal on the potential Russian threat: Marco Rubio (Rep.-FL), Lindsey Graham (Rep.-SC), John McCain (Rep.-AZ), and John Kasich, the ex-Governor of Ohio.

John Kasich
“We need to be clear. Russia is our foe. Putin is actively trying to hurt our country. America needs to speak with one voice AGAINST Russia.”

Marco Rubio
“Let's call it what it is. They are lying – this government is a government of liars, the Russian government.”

Blavatnik's Connections to Russia

While Blavatnik was born in Ukraine during a period of Soviet control and previously owned a major stake in the Russian oil company TNX-BP according to Forbes, he is listed as solely a U.K. and U.S. citizen.

A recent New York Times story noted that Blavatnik is a major investor in the Russian aluminum conglomerate, Rusal.

Rusal was one of many Russian companies and individuals that were sanctioned related to their involvement in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict by both the Obama and Trump administrations, but Rusal was recently spared the sanctions after a decision by the Treasury Department.

Senate Democrats wrote to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin expressing concern of a conflict of interest in the decision to lift sanctions since Blavatnik was an investor in the film production studio previously owned by Mnuchin. No sanctions have been made against Blavatnik.

Giuliani the Exception to the Rule

One candidate funded by Blavatnik but appears to be silent on the topic of the Russia investigation or Russian sanctions is Rudolph Giuliani.

Blavatnik and family members gave Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign $32,200, but public statements against the country or support for the Russian collusion investigation are hard to come by.

Rather than supporting the collusion investigation, Giuliani has defended the president from accusations of Russian collusion as a lawyer for Trump and he previously worked with companies in Russia and Armenia, which has close ties with Russia, as an advisor and private attorney.

Donations to Candidate Committees by Leonard Blavatnik, Family Members, or Access Industries (Not Including Party PACs and SuperPACs like RNC, DNC, Senate Leadership Fund, etc.)

OBAMA, BARACK / JOSEPH R. BIDEN$276,400
SCHUMER, CHARLES E $122,000
GRAHAM, LINDSEY O $83,700
BIDEN, JOSEPH R JR $78,800
BENNET, MICHAEL F $63,100
RICE, KATHLEEN $49,200
GILMAN, BENJAMIN A $46,255
COLEMAN, NORM $43,700
BROWN, SCOTT P $41,200
BOOKER, CORY A $40,400
BAYH, EVAN $40,350
HINCHEY, MAURICE D. $35,750
GIULIANI, RUDOLPH W. $32,200
TILLIS, THOM R $31,200
FRANKEN, AL $30,000
ALTSCHULER, RANDOLPH MR. $29,400
ISRAEL, STEVE J. $28,500
WYDEN, RONALD L $27,800
WILDES, MICHAEL $27,000
BISHOP, TIMOTHY $25,250
BLUMENTHAL, RICHARD $21,250
BOEHNER, JOHN A. $20,000
ROMNEY, MITT / PAUL D. RYAN $20,000
CLINTON, HILLARY RODHAM / TIMOTHY MICHAEL KAINE $19,250
RUBIO, MARCO $18,900
KASICH, JOHN R $18,900
UDALL, MARK E $18,800
MCCAIN, JOHN S $18,800
FORD, HAROLD E JR $18,400
LAUTENBERG, FRANK R $18,400
SPECTER, ARLEN $16,500
DESANTIS, RONALD D. $16,200
SCOTT, TIMOTHY E $16,200
WALKER, SCOTT $16,200
GRIFFIN, WILLIAM TAYLOR $16,200
HARRIS, KAMALA D $16,200
KANDER, JASON $16,200
NELSON, BILL $16,000
ISTOOK, ERNEST J $15,850
MALONEY, CAROLYN B. $15,800
LANDRIEU, MARY L $15,600
THUNE, JOHN R $15,500
LEVIN, SANDER M $15,000
BUSH, GEORGE W $12,000
LANTOS, TOM $12,000
SHAHEEN, JEANNE $11,400
LEE, MIKE $10,800
TOOMEY, PATRICK JOSEPH $10,800
GOTTHEIMER, JOSH $10,800
CORNYN, JOHN $10,400
THRONE-HOLST, ANNA $10,200
LIEBERMAN, JOSEPH I $10,000
BERKLEY, SHELLEY $10,000
UDALL, TOM $10,000
KERRY, JOHN F $10,000
MCCASKILL, CLAIRE $10,000
MANCHIN III, JOE $10,000
CAMP, DAVID LEE $10,000
KLOBUCHAR, AMY $10,000
SHAYS, CHRISTOPHER $9,600
HODES, PAUL W $9,600
BUCK, KENNETH R $9,600
KIRK, MARK STEVEN $9,600
ALLEN, THOMAS H $9,200
PRYOR, MARK LUNSFORD $9,200
SCHNEIDER, BRADLEY SCOTT $8,100
BURR, RICHARD M $8,100
STEFANIK, ELISE M. $7,800
GRIMES, ALISON LUNDERGAN $7,600
GILLIBRAND, KIRSTEN ELIZABETH $7,200
FEINSTEIN, DIANNE $7,000
STABENOW, DEBBIE $6,400
KELLY, SUE N $6,000
CARPER, THOMAS R $6,000
HIMES, JIM $5,450
TAYLOR, SCOTT $5,400
MURRAY, PATTY $5,400
VAN HOLLEN, CHRIS $5,400
FASO, JOHN J. MR. $5,400
LAND, TERRI LYNN $5,200
HEINRICH, MARTIN $5,000
ROYCE, ED MR. $5,000
ROS-LEHTINEN, ILEANA THE HON. $5,000
LUGAR, RICHARD G $4,800
ZELDIN, LEE M $4,800
BERMAN, HOWARD L. $4,800
SWETT, KATRINA $4,800
DODD, CHRISTOPHER J $4,600
ROCKEFELLER, JOHN DAVISON IV $4,600
CALVEY, KEVIN $4,200
BEGICH, MARK $4,000
D'AMATO, ALFONSE M $4,000
SAUJANI, RESHMA M $4,000
JEFFRIES, HAKEEM $4,000
WEINER, ANTHONY D MR $4,000
ADLER, DANIEL H $4,000
SALAZAR, KEN $4,000
GEJDENSON, SAM $3,500
MAJETTE, DENISE L $3,000
NELSON, E BENJAMIN $3,000
MARKEY, EDWARD JOHN MR $2,600
WARNER, MARK ROBERT $2,500
BROWN, MATTHEW A $2,500
LEAHY, PATRICK $2,400
WELDON, CURTIS W. $2,000
CLELAND, JOSEPH MAXWELL $2,000
MIKULSKI, BARBARA $2,000
MCCARTHY, CAROLYN $2,000
DASCHLE, THOMAS A $2,000
MENENDEZ, ROBERT $2,000
CAMPBELL, BEN NIGHTHORSE $2,000
NICKLES, DON $2,000
EMANUEL, RAHM ISRAEL $2,000
ROSENTHAL, PHILIP JEFFREY DR. $2,000
KNOWLES, TONY $2,000
LAROUCHE, LYNDON H JR $1,825
HECK, JOE $1,500
CONRAD, KENT $1,000
BOTEACH, SHMULEY $1,000
FOSSELLA, VITO $1,000
LAZIO, RICK A $1,000
CARNAHAN, JEAN A $1,000
BEREUTER, DOUGLAS K $1,000
STRICKLAND, THOMAS LEE $1,000
COX, CHRISTOPHER HON. $500
WICKER, ROGER F. $500
SANDERS, ALEXANDER M JR $500
BROWNBACK, SAMUEL DALE $500
YASSKY, DAVID $250
PORTER, JON C SR $237
GERLACH, JIM $237
RENZI, RICHARD G. $237
GOHMERT, LOUIS $237
Published: January 31, 2019