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President Biden and his allies raked in campaign cash from a top Russia lobbyist in 2020, just months before his administration’s decision to scrap sanctions on a controversial firm building a Russian oil pipeline to Germany.
Richard Burt, a managing partner at McLarty Associates and a former U.S. ambassador to Germany during the Reagan administration, ponied up $4,000 for Joe Biden in October 2020 and dropped another $10,000 in the lefty-aligned political action committee Unite The County in March 2020, FEC records show.
In addition to violating Biden’s own campaign pledge not to take lobbyist cash, the money from Burt is particularly noteworthy as he is currently directly engaged in lobbying activities for Nord Stream 2 AG.
“When Richard Burt donated to Biden Victory Fund, he failed to acknowledge that he was a registered foreign agent and was therefore ineligible to contribute,” a Democratic National Committee spokesman told The Post. “Because Burt also listed a different employer than on his [Foreign Agents Registration Act] registration, he was not flagged during our vetting process.”
The DNC said it returned the cash on Thursday after The Post’s inquiry.
The Switzerland-based Nord Stream 2 — controlled by an ex-East German stasi officer and close ally of Vladimir Putin — is currently engaging in sanctionable activity, according to the State Department. Team Biden raised eyebrows, however, after declining to enforce sanctions, citing U.S. national interests, Axios reported.
Critics worry the project will allow Russia dangerous influence over European energy supplies and increase their overall political leverage on the continent.
To build the pipeline, Nord Stream 2 has partnered with five European energy companies, ENGIE, OMV, Shell, Uniper and Wintershall Dea. Lobbying disclosure forms show that Burt is currently advocating on behalf of all five.
“To protect and further the company’s interests in the debate over natural gas as an element of European energy security and advise on Russia sanctions issues,” reads Burt’s disclosure for OMV under the area for “specific lobbying issues.” The other four offer similar language.
“Reading between the lines you can clearly see what that lobbying looks like,” Anna Massoglia, an investigative researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics told The Post. “While it’s not evidence of anything illegal, it’s just something that is evidence of how influence works in Washington.”
Burt, a longtime GOP donor before switching sides in 2019, has long been a fixture in D.C. foreign policy circles. “He carries an air of great knowledge and wisdom and experience, and he’s impressive when you meet him,” a former Trump official who dealt with Burt told The Post.
Burt played an early role in advising the Trump campaign’s foreign policy positions, and even helped the billionaire candidate craft his first foreign policy speech — something critics immediately jumped on as proof of untoward Russia connections.
“The revelation of Burt’s lobbying activity raises new questions about Russian influence in Trump’s campaign,” blared Politico, which extensively cited Burt’s work on Nord Stream 2 — a project Trump went on to oppose as president.
“The sum total of Trump’s words and actions has only encouraged Russian meddling in our elections,” said California Rep. Adam Schiff in August 2020. “Insecure, unscrupulous and transactional, Trump is Putin’s ideal American president.”
In March, 2019, Burt gave a maximum $2,800 donation to Schiff shortly after the congressman took the reins of the powerful House Intelligence Committee.
Schiff has not commented publicly on the Biden Nord Stream 2 decision.
Both Burt and reps for Schiff did not respond to request for comment from The Post.