Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) received over $17,000 from donors associated with the Russian agent, Maria Butina. One donor was George O’Neill, the great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who was revealed as “U.S. person 2” in documents naming Butina as a foreign spy.
Befriending O’Neill was a part of Butina’s plan to facilitate relationships between Americans active on the political scene, and Russian operatives.
Hosting a “friendship dinner” in 2017 with Russian officials before the National Prayer Breakfast, Butina told the GOP donor, “all we need is yes from (Vladimir) Putin’s side. The rest is easier.”
But O’Neill’s engagement with the Russian spy isn’t O’Neill’s only connection to Russia.
His daughter, Catherine O’Neill, pushed propaganda vilifying Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer and accountant who died in police custody after revealing government corruption in Russia
In 2020, Catherine O’Neill was executive director of Catholics for Trump, whose board members include Newt Gingrich, Mick Mulvaney, and Matt Schlapp.
Gaetz is fighting an uphill legal and political battle. According to his primary challenger Mark Lombardo, Gaetz “desperately needs donor cash to pay for his child sex-trafficking defense.”
This makes the House Freedom Caucus member an easy target.
“Because he is a member of the Armed Services Committee, Matt Gaetz’s behavior, including on foreign soil, has left him vulnerable to blackmail and makes him a threat to our national security,” Lombardo said.
This brings scrutiny to Gaetz’s ‘s vote against Finland and Sweden joining NATO – and his votes for a House Bill barring any military delivery of aid to Ukraine – and one opposing suspending oil and gas imports from Russia.
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The Florida representative’s campaign raised over half a million dollars in the second quarter, included in that total was the close to $20,000 donated by George O’Neill and his wife Erica.
Maria Butina has been linked to many Republicans – inside and outside the government. Former Trump campaign aide J.D. Gordon said back in 2018, “I wonder which prominent Republican figures she hasn’t come across.”
Original reporting by Aimee Sachs at Florida Politics
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