Lindsey Graham, Russian Oil Money & A Campaign Finance Scandal

The Democratic Coalition
5 min readMay 17, 2019

The Democratic Coalition’s ongoing investigation just uncovered the following evidence linking Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to Russian oil money and a campaign finance scandal.

Len Blavatnik is a Russian oligarch with US and UK citizenship who donated to Sen. Graham’s 2016 presidential campaign. Blavatnik made many of his billions off Russian oil. He is also long-term business partner of Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska at RuSal, the aluminum giant in which he is a major investor, as well as Viktor Vekselberg, who is entangled with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen through his U.S. family office Columbus Nova.

Sen. Graham’s political action committee received a total of $800,000 from Blavatnik via his company, Access Industries. He received $500,000 in May 2015 just before Donald Trump declared and another $300,000 in October 2015, long after it was publicly apparent Graham’s campaign had no traction in the polls. The Blavatnik family, including Len, donated another $57,000 to Graham’s campaign directly, but the Senator’s campaign later returned $13,500.

Senator Graham abandoned his 2016 campaign for president on December 21, 2015. Blavatnik gave $7.35 million to PACs working for high-ranking Republicans, including both the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader, during the 2015–16 federal campaign cycle. Special Counsel Robert Mueller was probing donor Blavatnik for his ties to Donald Trump and specifically a million dollar inaugural donation.

Forbes amply documented Blavatnik’s source funds from the Kremlin in 2013 by exhibiting a copy of the wire transfer itself in a story entitled “The Four Horsemen of Russia’s Economic Collapse.” It described his sale of a private Russian oil company to state-controlled Rosneft.

This report also indicates that a Ukrainian food industry executive — who used to work for the sanctioned Russian bank, Sberbank — and his family, who are based in New Jersey, were also significant donors to Graham’s presidential campaign, who had excessive donations returned.

Lastly, the report notes that Sen. Graham received illegal campaign donations from a Chinese-American virologist.

The person who arranged the illegal campaign donations scheme was a biotech company CEO named Dr. Jian-Yun Dong aka Dr. John Dong and his wife Dahner Wang. Eventually, Dong was convicted for arranging illegal foreign campaign contributions to Graham and was sentenced to 18 months in jail for that charge. He received an additional 70-month federal jail sentence in his second trial on federal corruption charges, for converting research funds into a lobbying slush fund and a source of funds for real estate improvements.

Sen. Graham helped Dr. Dong obtain earmarks totaling $19.6 million in federal grants from NIH and the military. His wife Wang turned on him, cooperating with prosecutors and leading to the scientist’s conviction and imprisonment.

Lindsey Graham was not charged in the criminal case against Dr. Dong, because prosecutors “found no evidence” he knew of multiple illegal schemes by his political donor.

Exhibit 1

Video from the 2016 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists:

Graham shown sitting next to Blavatnik at time mark 2:20

Source Link: See here.

Exhibit 2

Photo from the 2016 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists:

L to R: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Len Blavatnik and attorney Alan Dershowitz.

Source Link: See here.

Exhibit 3

Federal Election Commission Records: $500,000 from Access Industries (Blavatnik) to Security Is Strength PAC (Graham) 5/13/15:

Source Link: See here.

Exhibit 4

Federal Election Commission Records: $300,000 from Access Industries (Blavatnik) to Security Is Strength PAC (Graham) 10/7/15:

Source Link: See here.

Exhibit 5

Blavatnik family individual contributions for $57,000 and returned contributions for $13,500 to Lindsey Graham 2016:

Source Link: See here.

Exhibit 6

Ihor Petrashko is a Ukrainian business executive who donated $16,200 to Team Graham Inc. listing a foreign employer and NJ address. His apparent spouse donated $5,400:

Source Links: See here and here.

Exhibit 7

Graham donor Ihor Petrashko used to work as the Head of Corporate Business at Sberbank, a sanctioned Russian bank:

Source Links: See here and here.

Exhibit 8

Dr. Jian-Yun Dong foreign donation indictments linked to Graham filed in 2011, along with charges of misuse of federal grant money:

Source Link: See here.

Exhibit 9

Charges included misuse of federal grant money for virology research diverted to pay for an office building and a fake 2nd company:

Source Link: See here.

Exhibit 10

Federal prosecutors did not find evidence of wrongdoing by Graham:

Source Link: See here.

Exhibit 11

Dr. Dong Sentenced to 18 months on FEC violations on 10/25/16:

Source Link: See here.

Exhibit 12

Graham’s donor Dr. Dong sentenced to 70 months prison and over $15,000,000 restitution:

Source Link: See here.



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