A former Texas congressman who received at least $20,000 in campaign contributions from two associates of Rudy Giuliani who were arrested Thursday for campaign finance violations, has said he will donate the funds to local charities.
"Yesterday, I learned that two contributors to my 2018 campaign are being charged for not following campaign contribution laws," Pete Sessions said in a statement Friday. "Their deception cannot, and should not, be tolerated. Therefore, I am contributing the amount of their contributions to charities that serve abused women and children and the elderly in Central Texas."
Federal prosecutors say that one of the arrested men, Lev Parnas, urged an unidentified congressman to seek the ouster of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich at the behest of Ukrainian government officials. That happened about the same time that Parnas and his co-defendant Igor Fruman committed to raising more than $20,000 for the politician.
An indictment against Parnas and Fruman filed in the Southern District of New York does not accuse Sessions of wrongdoing or mention him by name, simply referring to the person as "Congressman 1." But donations made by Parnas and Fruman match campaign finance reports for Sessions.
Sessions, who served in the House of Representatives for 11 terms before losing his seat to Democrat Colin Allred in 2018, announced recently that he will be throwing his hat in the ring for Texas' 17th congressional district seat after GOP incumbent Rep. Bill Flores announced he'd be retiring ahead of the 2020 election cycle.
Parnas and Fruman's shell company Global Energy Producers (GEP) allegedly contributed $325,000 and $15,000 to separate committees in May 2018, “to obtain access to exclusive political events and gain influence with politicians,” the indictment says. They allegedly incorporated GEP around the time the contributions were made.
According to FEC records, GEP contributed $325,000 in May 2018 to pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. In a statement, a spokesperson for America First Action noted that a complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in July 2018 over this contribution in addition to separate litigation in Florida. The statement said that the money was placed "in a segregated bank account," was not used, and "will remain in this segregated account until these matters are resolved.
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.