I did not see marijuana charges, San Francisco arrests, and a Livermore pot grow coming in the unfolding Ukraine-Trump “Rudy Collude-y” scandal. But here we are, prepare the popcorn.
The Ukraine craziness that’s led to an impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s conduct has gone off-the-charts bonkers in the last 36 hours, since the New York Times reported that two of Rudy Giuliani’s arm-twisting associates were arrested trying to leave the country. Those two fellows were indicted Thursday on criminal charges of orchestrating a twisted network of illegal campaign contributions. But one of the many tentacles in their elaborate scheme involved allegedly bribing Nevada politicians to get permits for marijuana dispensaries and farm operations. The FBI is all over that one too, and KPIX reports that a business partner of the two arrested Giuliani associates was himself arrested in San Francisco Thursday morning, and was scheduled to appear in the U.S. District Court here this morning.
BREAKING NEWS— The Tao of Now (@InTheNoosphere) October 11, 2019
Ukrainian Andrey Kukushkin, Linked To Giuliani Associates, Arrested In San Francisco On Campaign Finance Violations https://t.co/HV7cHaHBhc
Bay City News identifies the suspect as Ukrainian-born Andrey Kukushkin, a naturalized U.S. citizen. Kukushkin appears to have nothing to do with Ukranian election interference or the attempts to manufacture dirt on Joe Biden; instead, he’s allegedly part of a Nevada marijuana bribery scheme that is officially transforming this magnificently stupid saga into a Coen brothers movie.
SDNY indictment:— Omar Aslam Lugo (@OmarAslamLugo) October 10, 2019
—Lev Parnas, US Citizen (Ukraine)
—Igor Fruman, US Citizen (Belarus)
—David Correia, US Citizen
—Andrey Kukushkin, Ukraine
—Foreign National—1, Russia
Scheme to launder foreign money via LLC's to candidates, PACs began March 2018.https://t.co/D1uaODmzeM
Where to begin? The two Giuliani associates arrested Thursday trying to fly to Vienna on one-way tickets (and this is a whole other plot line, CNN has the details) were also involved with various “legal” marijuana ventures with Kukushkin. As Talking Point Memo explains, Russian media have described Kukushkin as a cannabis entrepreneur who founded a Sacramento-based pot firm called Oasis Fund. That firm applied for a 34,000-foot marijuana greenhouse in Livermore, but that application was apparently denied. Kukushkin also apparently sued the San Francisco dispensary Medithrive in a property fraud case. None of this is illegal, and is frankly par for the course in the California cannabis industry.
Things got much sticky-ickier for Kukushkin and company in Nevada, where they reportedly attempted to bribe two Republican politicians to help get licenses in that state for dispensaries and cultivation facilities. On November 1, 2018, $10,000 apiece was donated to then-gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt and attorney general candidate Wesley Duncan (Both of whom would lose! But whatever.) The donations appeared to be above-board on paper. But according to the indictment, they were wired to now-arrested Giuliani associate Igor Fruman, to make it appear these were not illegal donations from a foreign national.
What the hapless criminal Kukushkin did not realize was that he had already missed the cannabis application deadline by two months. The bribes were effectively useless, so what do you do? Bribe more! According to the indictment, Kukushkin told his business partners that they were “2 months too late to the game unless we change the rules.”
Kukushkin has been indicted on charges of conspiring to “violate the ban on foreign donations and contributions in connection with federal and state elections.” His associate David Correia remains at large.
Rudy Giuliani himself is not mentioned in the indictments. But he is certainly neck-deep in crimes hatched here in the liberal gay marijuana capital of the world, San Francisco, so any of Rudy’s upcoming cable news appearances are certainly going to be appointment television.
Related: Why Bay Area Company CrowdStrike Figures Into Trump's Impeachment-Worthy Ukraine Call [SFist]
Image: (Left) Crzrussian via Wikimedia Commons, (Right) OK.Ru