NEW YORK (Reuters) – A $325,000 donation by a company run by two former associates of Rudy Giuliani triggered an internal inquiry at a group supporting former President Donald Trump, a former official for the group testified in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.
The testimony by Joseph Ahearn, who worked as finance director for the America First Action super PAC, came on the sixth day of the trial of Lev Parnas, a former Giuliani associate who is accused of breaking campaign finance laws. Closing arguments in the case are expected on Thursday.
Prosecutors say Parnas and a business partner, Igor Fruman, made the May 2018 donation to America First Action in the name of the company the pair created in order to conceal that they were the true source of the funds – a violation of campaign finance law. Parnas pleaded not guilty, while Fruman pleaded guilty in September.
Ahearn, the first witness called by the defense after prosecutors rested their case on Tuesday, said he sought contributions from Parnas because of his prior donations to Trump. He did not elaborate on why America First Action’s internal compliance unit became suspicious of the gift.
Super PACs are groups that can raise and spend unlimited funds as long as they do not coordinate with candidates’ campaigns.
The case has drawn attention because of the role Parnas and Fruman played in helping Giuliani – Trump’s former personal attorney – investigate Joe Biden’s activities in Ukraine ahead of the 2020 election. Biden, a Democrat, defeated Trump in last year’s presidential election.
Giuliani’s attorney has said the Parnas case is separate from a federal inquiry into whether Giuliani violated lobbying laws while working as Trump’s lawyer. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, has not been charged with any crimes and denies wrongdoing.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Peter Cooney)