We bring you new developments concerning our KELOLAND Kremlin Connection Investigation.
Our report discovered that the Senate Judiciary Committee asked to see all correspondence from a longtime political operative from South Dakota, Paul Erickson. Erickson has been involved in numerous campaigns, including various presidential campaigns. At issue is an email that Erickson reportedly sent during the 2016 NRA convention to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The New York Times reports the subject of the May 2016 email sent by Erickson to a Trump campaign advisor was “Kremlin Connection.”
According to the New York Times Erickson wrote:
“Putin is deadly serious about building a good relationship with Mr. Trump. He wants to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit him in the Kremlin before the election. Let’s talk through what has transpired and Senator Sessions’ advice on how to proceed.”
It’s unclear if that meeting took place and Sessions told the House Intelligence Committee he didn’t remember the request.
Our investigation showed you that Erickson is connected to this Russian gun rights advocate Maria Butina. Butina has worked for the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank, Alexander Torshin. Butina has been called a “Torshin protégé” who ran a pro-gun group in Russia supported by Torshin.
Erickson and Butina’s alliance includes a South Dakota business. According to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office, Erickson and Butina formed a limited liability company in 2016 in South Dakota called Bridges. It’s unclear what that company does, but its address is a Sioux Falls apartment building.
Now according to a national report by McClatchy, the FBI is investigating whether Torshin funneled money through the NRA to help fund the Trump presidential campaign. The NRA spent $55 million on the 2016 election with $30 million of that going to the Trump campaign.
It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.
Our attempts to get Erickson to do an interview with us have been unsuccessful. We did speak with him through a speaker phone at his apartment building. Erickson told us the national reports about him were incorrect.