Liberal Watchdog Group Targeting Devin Nunes Paid Fusion GPS $140,000

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, is in the US political spotlight for writing a classified memo alleging abuse of power at the FBI, and then pushing for its release
© AFP/File Brendan Smialowski

A liberal watchdog group that investigated the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers last year paid nearly $140,000 to Fusion GPS — the firm that produced the “pee dossier” claiming a collusion conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to a report.

The Campaign for Accountability paid for research on an unknown project, according to its tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service, the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross first reported on Thursday.

Fusion GPS became known worldwide after the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee hired it through their law firm Perkins Coie in early 2016 for opposition research claiming that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to win the election.

The dossier, written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele, was shopped by Steele and Fusion GPS  to journalists, members of Congress, and officials at the State Department, Justice Department, and the FBI and used as a roadmap in the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign. It was used as part of the justification to obtain surveillance warrants against a former Trump campaign official Carter Page.

CfA was formed in 2015 by members of another watchdog group that had been aggressively investigating the Trump administration — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), according to Ross.

CfA, which reportedly filed numerous ethics complaints and lawsuits last year and published reports criticizing Google and investment firm BlackRock, paid $138,684 to Fusion GPS for work as an independent contractor, according to the group’s Form 990 filing.

Two of the group’s main targets last year were Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt, according to Ross.

Its two biggest targets in Congress were Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Nunes, who was the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and investigating the origins of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign.

Nunes succeeded in forcing Fusion GPS to turn over its bank records to the committee, exposing that it had been paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC’s law firm to produce the “pee dossier” on Trump.

One of the group’s complaints filed on January 25, 2018, with the Office of Congressional Ethics, accused Nunes of leaking confidential information about Fusion GPS and its founders’ testimony to the committee.

Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson told the committee that he met with DOJ official Bruce Ohr only after the 2016 election. However, Ohr said he had met with Simpson months before the election.

A second complaint on March 1, 2018, accused Nunes of leaking text messages that Sen. Mark Warner (D-CA) exchanged with an attorney discussing Steele. A third complaint on July 11, 2018 accused Nunes of failing to disclose business investments on his personal financial disclosure.

CfA Executive Director Daniel Stevens told Ross that his firm was not hired to look into Nunes.

“CfA did not hire Fusion to look into Devin Nunes or coordinate with the firm regarding our ethics complaints against Devin Nunes,” Stevens told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “CfA’s ethics complaints against Nunes fall squarely within our mission to hold public officials accountable.”

However, Nunes told the DCNF that CfA collaborated with Fusion GPS to “weaponize the ethics process against Republicans.”

“Then their media sympathizers report on their ethics complaints as if they’re legitimate, good-government initiatives instead of deceitful political attacks,” he told the DCNF said in a statement.

CfA “frequently rails against so-called ‘dark money’ in politics, but has avoided disclosing its own donors,” wrote Ross. Stevens reportedly did not respond to questions about its donors. The group took in nearly $1.3 million in revenue last year.

Fusion GPS, founded by former Wall Street Journal journalists, has conducted research on behalf of Russian company Prevezon Holdings to investigate Bill Browder, the financier behind the Magnitsky Act, which holds Russian human rights abusers accountable.

Fusion GPS has also worked for Theranos, which put out bogus blood-testing equipment, as well as the Obama campaign, and for California billionaire Tom Steyer.

Fusion GPS and Steele are reportedly continuing to investigate any Trump-Russia connections, with money from the Democracy Integrity Project, a non-profit founded by a former FBI analyst and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) staffer Daniel Jones.

The Democracy Integrity Project paid Fusion GPS $3.3. million for research services, according to the DCNF.

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