Imagine paying $200,000 to attend President Trump’s 2017 inauguration. Now imagine paying that money and not even being allowed to attend. You’d be pretty pissed!
That’s allegedly what happened to the plaintiff in a new lawsuit filed against Republican fundraiser Yuri Vanetik, who reportedly sold the absurdly priced tickets to a Ukrainian-Russian developer who was looking to solidify ties with Trump, according to the New York Times.
The name of that developer? Pavel Fuks.
Let me repeat that. His last name. Is. FUKS.
Ok, glad we cleared that up.
Fuks paid Vanetik instead of an inaugural committee because foreigners are not allowed to directly buy tickets to official American inauguration parties to avoid influencing administrations. However, many still attend at the invitation of donors.
Federal prosecutors are currently investigating whether foreigners did buy tickets from Trump’s inaugural committee, which would be a violation of foreign lobbying laws. So far, one Washington lobbyist has plead guilty to buying inauguration tickets for a Ukrainian oligarch.
Unfortunately for Fuks, his big purchase didn’t come through. He was forced to watch the inauguration from a bar.
From the Times:
He never received the tickets he said he was promised to an official inaugural ball, to a dinner with incoming cabinet members or to other exclusive events. His only access to Trump allies came when he posed for photographs with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican leader, and Ed Royce, then a congressman from California, at a post-inauguration reception sponsored by Mr. McCarthy’s political action committee at the Trump International Hotel.
Vanetik allegedly dangled more opportunities to mingle with the incoming administration if Fuks was willing to cough up more cash.
For an extra $20,000, Mr. Vanetik said he could get Mr. Fuks into a breakfast with about a dozen senators or an event with Mr. Royce, who was the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, according to the lawsuit. It said that, according to Mr. Vanetik, $350,000 would buy “a better chance of meeting up with the president-elect.”
“You need to be prepared to spend money to get access at events like this,” Mr. Vanetik wrote to Mr. Fuks in a text exchange cited in the lawsuit.
After Fuks disappointing inauguration experience, he tried to get a refund, but Vanetik refused, and allegedly threatened to use his influence to restrict Fuks access to the U.S.
“Not long after” a call with Vanetik, the lawsuit says, Fuks “had his visa revoked and a five-year travel ban instituted against him.”
That’s Fuksed up!!!
Vanetik has denied threatening Fuks or working to restrict his travel.
“I regret having had any contact with such a questionable and confrontational person as Fuks,” Vanetik told the Times.
If Vanetik had actually gone ahead and bought Fuks tickets, it would have been illegal.
“The specter of an incoming administration selling access in exchange for five- or six-figure donations to an inaugural committee is ugly on its own, but it gets even uglier when foreign nationals are taking advantage,” Brendan Fischer, an official at the Campaign Legal Center, told the Times.
Fischer said it is “illegal for any U.S. national to solicit any contribution or donation from a foreign national, even if the money never ends up going to the inaugural committee.”
Read the rest of the story at the Times.