Maynard: Trump is not the only one the Russians supported

Robert Maynard

By now most of our readers are probably aware that Facebook has finally come forward and admitted that Russian-backed companies bought numerous political ads during the political campaign. Some were issue-related ads, such as ones opposing immigration.

I single out that one among the many because they actually went a step further and used Facebook to organize rallies. This is in addition to the political support for the Trump campaign. The latest ones on that front is the use of Twitter to target the swing states in the runup to the election.

What is less well known is that the Russians also targeted Green Party candidate Jill Stein and progressive Bernie Sanders for support.  Here is a short excerpt form a Politico story on the matter:

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was the beneficiary of at least one of the Russian-bought political ads on Facebook that federal government officials suspect were intended to influence the 2016 election.

Other advertisements paid for by shadowy Russian buyers criticized Hillary Clinton and promoted Donald Trump. Some backed Bernie Sanders and his platform even after his presidential campaign had ended, according to a person with knowledge of the ads.

The pro-Stein ad came late in the political campaign and pushed her candidacy for president, this person said.

‘Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein,’ the ad reads. ‘Trust me. It’s not a wasted vote. … The only way to take our country back is to stop voting for the corporations and banks that own us. #GrowaSpineVoteJillStein.’

The article points out that both Sanders and Stein deny any knowledge of such support. In Stein’s case, what it does not say is that this is not the first bit of evidence linking her to Russia. In April of this year, NBC published an article about a dinner that Stein attended with Putin. Here is how they describe it:

It was a (red) star-studded affair, the December 2015 dinner celebrating the 10th birthday of Russian TV network RT. At a luxe Moscow hotel, President Vladimir Putin and a host of Russian luminaries toasted a state-backed news channel that U.S. intelligence calls a Kremlin mouthpiece.

And next to Putin at the head table, in the seat of honor, was an American. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who would later become Donald Trump’s national security adviser, was already advising Trump’s presidential campaign when he was paid $45,000 to speak at the gala.

Note that General Flynn was also there. We have looked into his connection with Russia already, so why is Stein getting a pass? She denied anything was going on then too, but so has Trump. Granted that there is far more evidence of a relationship between Russia and Trump, but this still deserves more scrutiny.

Then there is the Sanders campaign. With all the attention on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, it is easy to overlook the activities of other political operatives. According to an article that appeared on the “People’s View:”

But Manafort was not the only American political consultant in 2016 who had a checkered history of muddying the waters of international politics. In 2009 Manafort was working to help improve the image of pro-Russian Ukranian politician Viktor Yanukovych in an effort to make the presidential nominee seem more accessible, and thus more palatable, to the American Congress. Joining Manafort in that effort was an American consultant named Tad Devine, a man who himself had a dubious history of foreign intervention. Among Devine’s highlights is having worked for exiled Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 2002 as well as ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in 2005. Devine then worked for Yanukovych from 2006 up until he was elected president of Ukraine in 2010. Like both Lozada and Zelaya, Yanukovych has since been removed from power and he currently resides in exile in Russia and just happens to be wanted for treason in Ukraine.

So, what is the connection here?

In addition to having supported corrupt politicians abroad, Devine has also supported unsuccessful presidential candidates here at home. Devine had increasing roles in the campaigns of Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bob Kerry, Al Gore, and John Kerry. After having previously worked on actual successful campaigns for Bernie Sanders’ 1996 congressional run as well as his 2006 senatorial run, Devine officially joined Sanders’ presidential campaign as a senior advisor in May of 2015. Over the course of the next fourteen months, Devine not only became one of the mouthpieces of the campaign but was also able to net himself a pretty penny. According to Slate, through both his consulting work as well as his work with Old Time Media, Devine was able to net himself roughly $10 million through his work on the campaign. For a campaign that prided itself as going to fight for the little guy, Devine, an establishment political consultant and friend of Bernie Sanders, seemed perfectly content to pocket millions of dollars.

There seems to be some question as to where that money came from:

But Devine’s hefty payday might not have been paid for entirely by gullible Americans giving $27 each. Throughout the Democratic primary, the Sanders campaign was cited for FEC violations on three separate occasions including a mysterious $10 million donation from a single address in Washington, DC. Despite consistent calls for financial transparency on the campaign trail, the Sanders campaign was exceedingly secretive when it came to its own finances. After twice filing for extensions from the FEC, the Sanders campaign ultimately decided to forgo its final financial disclosure statement in June citing the fact that campaign was no longer active. This decision was accompanied by the news that Sanders himself had purchased a $575,000 home in August, much to the dismay of his loyal followers. The home would be the third residence for Sanders, someone who railed against a system that increasingly favored the millionaires and billionaires of our country.

Robert Maynard writes a column for True North Reports. He lives in Williston, Vermont.