White House: Flynn Did Not Disclose Income From Russian Companies

(Washington Post) -
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Before resigning under pressure as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn submitted a personal financial disclosure form to federal ethics officials that failed to note speaking fees he received from Russia-related entities in 2015, new filings show.

Flynn later noted the payments on an amended form he signed Friday that listed among his sources of income the Russian government-backed media network RT, a U.S. air cargo company affiliated with the Volga-Dnepr Group and the U.S. subsidiary of Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab.

The White House released both sets of the forms Saturday as part of a broad release of documents detailing the financial holdings of top administration officials.

Flynn’s initial form was submitted to the Office of Government Ethics and the White House on Feb. 11 – just days before he was forced to leave his post amid controversy over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador. On the document, he noted that he received fees through a speakers bureau, but he did not detail the names of the organizations that paid to have him as a speaker.

A person familiar with his filing said Flynn’s initial form was a draft that would have gone through the usual process of review and revision in consultation with the White House Counsel’s Office and the Office of Government Ethics. However, that process was suspended when Flynn resigned. In recent days, White House officials asked him to finish the process and advised Flynn that he needed to itemize each organization that paid to have him as a speaker, the person said.

Flynn first acknowledged in a July interview with Yahoo that he had been paid for the December 2015 RT event in Moscow, where the retired Army lieutenant general sat with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a celebration for the network. He later confirmed to The Washington Post that the network provided his payment.

The U.S. government has said that RT, which receives Kremlin funding, is part of an array of propaganda outlets that help popularize a pro-Russian perspective through the media.

It was not until earlier this month that Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, disclosed new documents showing that Flynn had also been paid in 2015 for speeches in Washington by Volga-Dnepr Airlines and Kaspersky Government Security Solutions.

In all, Flynn earned at least $1.3 million in the past year, including more than $827,000 through his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, his disclosure shows.

Flynn’s amended filing included a dollar figure for an October speaking engagement paid for by Ibrahim Kurtulus, a former official with the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, a U.S.-based nonprofit. In his original form, Flynn included Kurtulus on a section of the form that requires officials to name all their sources of income exceeding $5,000 over the previous two years. He omitted Kurtulus, however, in another section of the form requiring more specific disclosures for income sources in the last year. In the amended form, he disclosed that he was paid a $10,000 speaking fee by Kurtulus in October 2016.

The Daily Caller reported that Flynn met with Kurtulus and another activist, Hilal Mutlu, a cousin of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that same month. At the time, Flynn’s firm was also being paid by a Dutch company owned by a Turk to undertake efforts favorable to the Turkish government.

The amended form details several other speaking engagements, including a $15,000 speech delivered to conservative activist David Horowitz’s Freedom Center and a $22,500 speech to Randall-Reilly Publishing Company.

Flynn also reported that he was paid $14,454.20 to deliver a speech to BlackDuck Software in October, just weeks before the election. BlackDuck’s website shows that Flynn spoke about the government’s vulnerability to computer hackers in the speech.