“Political consultants are generally leery of registering under it [the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act], because their reputations can suffer once they are on record as accepting money to advocate the interests of foreign governments — especially if those interests conflict with America’s.” Associated Press, August 18, 2016
Trump surrogates Rick Gates and Paul Manafort (The Count of Monte Cristo) both worked to promote the pro-Russia, anti-Western communist: Ukraine’s then-President Viktor Yanukovych even after he fled Ukraine in 2014 though an organization called the “European Center for a Modern Ukraine.”
Manafort is no longer working for the Trump campaign, but Rick Gates “will be taking over as the campaign’s liaison to the RNC based in Washington.”
Rick Gates will be taking over as the campaign’s liaison to the RNC based in Washington.
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) August 19, 2016
If one was to devise a textbook example of what a front group’s name should look like, the ‘European Center for a Modern Ukraine’ fits the bill in all of it’s vague, euphemistic glory. The name struck this author as indicative of the type of flowery name often assigned to communist front groups such as “Peace Action,” or “Grassroots Global Justice Alliance,” or “Causa Justa.”
That is why the name “European Centre for a Modern Ukraine” from a 2013 Buzzfeed article jumped off the computer screen. The article’s author, Rosie Gray, revealed that conservative authors from websites including RedState, Breitbart, and Pajamas Media were being paid $500.00 to echo “Ukrainian government talking points:”
One of the writers who participated in the campaign, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and because of lingering qualms about the arrangement, they said, described being offered $500 for a blog post praising Ukraine’s ruling Party of Regions. The payment was arranged by George Scoville, a libertarian media strategist, and Scoville’s name was on the check, the source said.
The report goes on to say that Scoville organized a conference call with conservative writers arranged through the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which “exists to promote Yanukovych and the party.”
According to the author, the organization “employs two well-connected Washington lobbying firms, The Podesta Group [whose co-founder John Podesta runs Hillary Clinton’s campaign] and Mercury/Clark and Weinstock,” which is relevant to the AP article from Thursday:
And [Trump surrogate Rick] Gates directed efforts to undercut sympathy for Yulia Tymoshenko, an imprisoned rival of then-President Viktor Yanukovych. The Ukrainian leader eventually fled the country in February 2014 during a popular revolt prompted in part by his government’s crackdown on protesters and close ties to Russia.
Manafort and Gates have said that they did not disclose their activities to the Justice Department because they did not oversee lobbying efforts and merely introduced the Washington firms to a Brussels-based nonprofit, the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, which they said ran the project. The center paid Mercury and the Podesta Group a combined $2.2 million over roughly two years.
Fast forward to today: Rosie Gray writes again at Buzzfeed that in the wake of the controversy, Mercury and the Podesta group
“…are engaging outside counsel after becoming embroiled in a controversy over undisclosed foreign lobbying by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy [Rick Gates].”
In other words, these lobbying firms are “lawyering up.”
As an aside, Rick Gates and Paul Manafort orchestrated the tyranny at the Republican National Convention in July. CNN quoted Gates as having some harsh words for delegates who sought a rules change that would favor conservatives.
“Our goal is to destroy them,” Gates said.
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