A new grotesque money in politics scandal emerged this week inside an Orange County courthouse and links not only Vladimir Putin, the Donald Trump inauguration committee, a con man, Trump Tower Moscow but also our very own Master of Messes: Dana Tyrone Rohrabacher.
Rohrabacher was the self-styled term limits “champion” for his first race in 1988 and stayed in Congress 30 years until this January, after voters booted him, an outcome that robbed me of a 71-year-old scoundrel who regularly filled column inches with nonsense you just can’t makeup.
You may have heard of Putin, the dictator, thug and KGB-trained murderer, enemy of democracy and, of course, booze-chugging pal of the aforementioned ex-congressman, who, yes, made a career screaming about autocrats destroying freedom and capitalism.
Newport Beach fraudster and Russian emigre Yuri Vanetik and his bodyguard have vacationed in Germany and Holland with Rohrabacher, a tragic feat worthy of cleansing hot showers, condolences and a box of Xanax.
Successfully accused in court of defrauding nearly $5 million from investors in scams, Vanetik likes to associate with such swamp drainers as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senator Mitch McConnell, Trump mouthpiece Rudy Giuliani, members of the Republican Party of Orange County and convicted felon Paul Manafort.
You may love or hate Trump but at least he was smart enough to reject Rohrabacher’s desperate pleas for a cabinet position. Though, the president did mislead the public about his own cravings to make hundreds of millions of dollars from a future high-rise in Russia that could only be built with Putin’s approval.
This week inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, Russian-Ukrainian oligarch Pavel Fuks sued Vanetik for allegedly conning him out of $200,000 for non-existent VIP access to Trump’s inauguration-week activities, including the parade, balls and swearing-in ceremony where U.S. Park Service aerial equipment somehow didn’t spot a couple hundred thousand attendees for official photographs.
He also claims he was told he needed to pay $20,000 to meet then-Orange County Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and an additional $350,000 for a quick pow-wow with the 45th president.
According to the foreign real estate developer’s lawsuit, Rohrabacher was supposed to send his car to take Fuks from his Washington, D.C. hotel to the swearing-in but failed.
The oligarch ended up watching ceremonies on a TV in a bar.
A legitimate explanation for Rohrabacher’s rudeness or laziness or both isn’t clear.
In comparison, he went out of his way to back Russian spy Maria Butina, who was operating on American soil for Putin. After they dined together, he angrily denounced her later arrest, calling it a “bogus” act performed by evil, faceless federal law enforcement agents. His tale wouldn’t have died its embarrassing death if only Butina hadn’t pleaded guilty last year in an illegal campaign to infiltrate conservative political groups like the NRA. She is currently serving an 18-month prison sentence.
While Fuks, who claims he has emails supporting his stance, wants his money back, Vanetik—who has been featured in Forbes—told reporters the lawsuit is a “PR stunt,” an assertion sure to be tested in our federal courthouse in coming months.
As for Rohrabacher—once Orange County’s senior career politician, he quickly moved out of state from Costa Mesa after Harley Rouda slammed him at the ballot box and is trying to sell his influence, if he has any, in lobbying-type efforts.
We’re not sold on the ex-politician’s business endeavor. He’s been living off taxpayers for more than 40 years. Besides, there’s no doubting his true specialty: collecting an impressive, ever-growing list of convicted felon buddies.
Those ranks now include Butina, the spy; influence peddlers Manafort and Jack Abramoff; embezzler Jack Wu; con artist Dave Garofalo, once the mayor of Huntington Beach; dirty ex-sheriff Mike Carona; Hollywood swindler Joseph Medawar; avid Christian conservative and serial child molester Jeffrey Nielsen, his close D.C. aide; FBI-caught bribe-taking politician Pat Nolan and, of course, Rhonda Rohrabacher, his wife who found ways to commit state crimes in a campaign.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.