Why did Lancaster County (VA) Republicans entertain a Russian stooge?

Each year about this time the Lancaster County (Virginia) Republicans hold their annual Reagan Day dinner at Indian Creek Country Club, Kilmarnock, VA.  In 2018 the featured speaker was David Keene, who pimped his fear-mongering book “Shall Not Be Infringed: The New Assaults on Your Second Amendment.

Keene was president of the NRA for two years, 2011 – 2013.

In 2003, Keene’s son David Michael Keene was sentenced to ten years in prison for shooting at another motorist during a road rage incident.  Prior to this incident the young Keene had been under psychiatric treatment for several years.  Because of his mental condition, he was prohibited from possessing a firearm, still, he was carrying a pistol which he used to shoot at another motorist.

Where did the young Keene get his prohibited pistol?  According to court testimony, David Keene allowed his son to use his firearms in spite of the son’s mental condition.

In addition to being a past president of the NRA, Keene was chairman of the American Conservative Union (1984 – 2011), where his ex-wife embezzled over $300,000, for which she served one year in prison.

Of course, these facts from Keene’s past where not mentioned by the Lancaster Republicans when they introduced Keene to the cheering crowd.

Meanwhile, we now learn that Keene was deeply involved in the illegal relationship between the NRA and Russia.  In fact – Keene had a close relationship with accused Russian spy Marina Butina. And you can be certain the Lancaster County Republicans did not bother to alert their members that the party was supporting a Russian stooge.

Read all about it here.

And here.

UPDATE

Now we learn the NRA is frantically trying to divert attention from their connections to Russia, and, from their use by the Russians as a conduit of foreign money to the Trump campaign.  Congress has obtained a large quantity (thousands) of emails from the NRA dealing with their Russian scam and the NRA is now trying to convince their membership that there’s nothing there.  But there is.

NRA is trying to say they had nothing to do with the trip to Russia by their officers, led by Keene.  Bullshit.  The entire NRA leadership was up to their necks in the trip — Keene was the leader.

Keene and other NRA officials hoped to meet with Putin.  They really, really wanted to meet with Putin.

UPDATE #2

After remaining all but mum for the past two years about news reports detailing its ties to Russia, the National Rifle Association finally spoke up this week. The gun group tried to distance itself from a 2015 trip to Moscow by top NRA officials that was arranged by Maria Butina, who pleaded guilty last year to acting as a Russian agent and participating in a conspiracy against the United States. But congressional investigators are challenging the NRA on what they think is a bogus cover story and stepping up investigations of the group. […[

… Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, who is investigating the NRA as the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, has information contradicting the gun group’s claims that it had no “official” connection to the 2015 Moscow trip, sources told Mother Jones. Wyden is preparing a detailed report on the trip. And congressional investigators are homing in on David Keene, a former NRA president who was the trip’s primary organizer on the NRA side, according to people familiar with the matter. “This was driven in large by Keene,” said a person who reviewed NRA emails about the travel plans. Keene, a longtime conservative Republican figurehead and former opinion editor for the Washington Times, also sought an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the trip, according to reports this week, though one did not take place.

UPDATE #3

Keene is a crook.  Maybe that’s why the Lancaster Republicans love him so.

Just hours before Labor Day, the New York Times broke a story regarding an illicit business enterprise engaged in by indicted Russian spy Maria Butina, disgraced GOP operative Paul Erickson, NRA board member David Keene, and Keene’s wife Donna. The four were attempting to broker a deal to sell a massive amount of Russian jet fuel using contacts from Ms. Keene’s Rolodex. Butina was to receive a commission of $1 million for her role in the scheme, but things fell apart quickly. Rather than reaching out to Russian energy giant Gazprom for the fuel, Butina contacted a member of her pro-gun front group The Right to Bear Arms and a coffee bean trader. According to the Times, all parties in the deal “seemed out of their depth, each projecting confidence and deep knowledge of the jet fuel business while seeming not to grasp the basics.”

It wasn’t Keene’s first failed attempt at white-collar crime (nor Erickson’s¹). Keene was forced out of his longtime chairmanship at the American Conservative Union (ACU) in February 2011 after the board discovered $400K in donations had been embezzled from the 501(c)(4). The crime was pinned on Keene’s ex-wife, Diana Carr, who was (curiously) working as ACU’s “administrative director” at the time.² She was ultimately sentenced to a year in jail.

UPDATE #4

Was Keene involved in this criminal activity?  We shall see.

Courtesy of The Daily Beast:

Paul Erickson, the American political operative and boyfriend of admitted Russian agent Maria Butina, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in South Dakota on charges of wire fraud and money laundering.

The U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota is handling the prosecution, which is separate from the case that was lodged against Butina in Washington, D.C.

Erickson, 56, was arrested on Tuesday and entered a plea of not guilty at an arraignment, according to the court filings. His attorney, Clint Sargent, said in a statement: “Mr. Erickson is anxious to let the criminal justice process play out and believes a story different from the Government’s will emerge.”

The indictment alleges that Erickson ran a criminal scheme from 1996 to 2018 using a chain of assisted living homes called Compass Care. Erickson also allegedly defrauded investors through a company called Investing with Dignity that claimed to be “in the business of developing a wheelchair that allowed people to go to the bathroom without being lifted out of the wheelchair.” The indictment says he also ran a fraudulent scheme that claimed to be building homes in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota.

His arrest comes after several months of investigation by federal and state law enforcement officials, according to court documents and individuals with direct knowledge of the probe. Two individuals who spoke to The Daily Beast over the last five months said they were contacted by FBI agents about Erickson and his businesses.

Now you will probably notice that this indictment seems to have nothing to do with his Russian lover, however, there was also this little tidbit contained in this article:

Erickson, a well-known conservative operative who shuttled between D.C. and South Dakota, struck up a relationship with Butina, 29, in 2013. As The Daily Beast has reported, he dressed up as Rasputin to her flame-haired Empress Alexandra at a 2016 birthday party where vodka flowed through an ice sculpture of a bottle imprinted with the Soviet hammer and sickle.

The couple, who lived together in South Dakota, had some kind of business together. They were listed as the sole officers of Bridges LLC, a company registered in the state in February 2016, though it’s unclear what it did or how it operated.

I have the feeling that all of this is tied together, and that Erickson’s relationship with Butina, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, is going to figure into his sentencing.  And let’s not forget the possibility of a plea deal in which Erickson spills the beans on Keene, Butina, and the whole NRA scam.