Russell Taub, GOP Candidate, Asked Russian Spies for Help in U.S. House Election

A former Republican congressional candidate illegally asked for help from Russian intelligence during his 2016 election campaign, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has found.

H. Russell Taub had been fighting to unseat Representative David Cicilline in Rhode Island's first congressional district.

The FEC filing said on August 15, 2016, Taub sent a Twitter direct message to Guccifer 2.0, which is known to be connected to the GRU, Russia's main intelligence agency. The message asked for "a list of Republican donors" which he said would help raise money in his race against Cicilline.

Taub then provided an email address for receipt of the dossier which included opposition research reports, polling data and other information about his incumbent Democratic opponent who also served as mayor of Providence from 2003 to 2011.

Two days after he sent the request, Taub received an email with 10 attachments related to Cicilline, apparently stolen from the GRU's various election-related hacking targets. These attachments included opposition research reports, polling data, news articles, and one of Cicilline's U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Statements.

The filing, which was dated January 19, 2022, but reported this week, cites ex-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

It also refers to "links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump."

The Mueller report found no proof Trump criminally colluded with Russia and reached no conclusion about whether the former president obstructed justice.

Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, it is illegal for a "foreign national" to directly or indirectly contribute money "or other thing of value" in any federal, state, or local election.

The FEC said that Taub, 33, had broken federal campaign law "by knowingly soliciting, accepting or receiving a prohibited in-kind foreign national contribution in the form of opposition research related to the candidate's opponent."

Taub admitted wrongdoing in a settlement with the FEC and was excused from paying a $31,000 fine due to "financial hardship."

In 2019, Taub was sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to repay $1.1 million after admitting wire fraud and campaign-finance violations. Taub admitted to raising $1.6 million in donations through unregistered political action committees.

He spent more than $1 million of the money on things including cigars, meals, strip clubs and escorts, reported The Providence Journal, which said that he had been released on January 13 this year.

The probe followed a complaint to the FEC by a Washington ethics watchdog alleging his Keeping America in Republican Control PAC violating campaign-finance reporting requirements.

Newsweek has contacted the lawyer representing Taub in the FEC case for comment.

A campaign image of H. Russell Taub
A campaign image of H. Russell Taub, a GOP candidate for Rhode Island in the U.S. House race in 2016. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has found that he illegally sought help from Russian intelligence during the race. Facebook