Michael Flynn Failed to Disclose Payments From Russian Propaganda Network
The former National Security Advisor’s financial disclosure forms made no mention of payments from a Russian state-run media network.
Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn initially failed to inform federal ethics officials of payments from a state-sponsored Russian propaganda outfit, according to newly released documents.
Flynn, who left his White House post after less than a month, submitted a financial disclosure form in February that made no mention of a reported $45,000 payment from Russia Today, or RT, for a speech that Flynn gave at the network’s 10th anniversary gala.
In an amended disclosure statement filed with the White House counsel’s office on Friday, Flynn disclosed receiving more than $5,000 (the threshold for reporting) from RT.
The retired Army general resigned from his post atop the White House National Security Council in February after it was revealed that he had failed to disclose communications during the 2016 presidential campaign with the Russian ambassador to Washington regarding U.S. sanctions against the country.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently probing whether Trump campaign officials collaborated with Russian government agents seeking to influence the U.S. presidential election through hacks of Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign officials.
RT is a key component of Russia’s foreign propaganda apparatus. It advances the Kremlin position on international affairs through affiliate broadcasters in the United States and Europe.
In addition to RT, Flynn’s amended disclosure statement reveals payments for speeches to two additional Russian companies, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky and Volga Dnepr Airlines. Neither of those payments was disclosed in Flynn’s initial ethics filing.
The White House reported receiving the amended filing on Friday, the same day that it publicly released disclosure statements for more than a hundred executive branch officials in a large evening document dump.
A source close to Flynn told The Daily Beast on Saturday that his resignation from the White House last month interrupted efforts to file a complete and accurate disclosure form, and that the amendment was an effort to correct deficiencies that would have otherwise been sorted out.
“Gen. Flynn had begun the process of submitting and updating the form, but that process was suspended when he resigned,” the source said. “He therefore submitted the finalized form after he left the White House.”
Flynn’s initial disclosure statement is dated Feb. 11. A month after he filed it, congressional investigators revealed that documents in their possession showed that Flynn was paid $45,000 to speak at the RT event and received payments for additional speeches to Kaspersky and Volga Dnepr.
The February financial disclosure statement listed payments in excess of $5,000 from Leading Authorities LLC, the speakers bureau that arranged Flynn’s speeches. But they did not disclose the actual sources of payments routed through the bureau.
Guidance from the Office of Government Ethics, which oversees financial disclosure by federal officials, specifies that honoraria received through a speaker’s bureau should be reported as income from the organizations that paid the honoraria, not from speakers bureaus that arrange them.
“Report each source of honoraria in excess of $200 as a separate line entry,” OGE advises. “For example, if you gave $500-speeches at three universities through ABC Speakers’ Bureau, report all three sources.”
Flynn has faced additional questions since leaving the White House regarding his compliance with ethics rules. He confirmed last month that he did not sign an ethics pledge imposed by a January executive order and required of all incoming presidential appointees.
A Flynn spokesman said at the time that he planned to abide by the terms of the pledge despite not having signed it. Those terms bar appointees from ever lobbying on behalf of foreign government entities.
After leaving the White House, Flynn disclosed to the Justice Department that he had lobbied on behalf of a company with Turkish government ties last year, and that that work might have advanced that government’s geopolitical interests.