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DOJ Charges Dusty’s TAR Camp Speaker Maria Butina with Conspiracy to Act as Russian Agent

Maria Butina, gunning for South Dakota?
So this beautiful Russian woman who loves guns walks up to me with a proposition… Maria Butina, 2015

Maria Butina makes my blogging day. No, the Russian gun advocate didn’t drop by for a podcast (although, Ms. Butina, if you visit South Dakota, I will drop everything, everything, to come speak with you). No, she just knocked five points off Dusty Johnson’s Congressional campaign hopes by getting arrested as a Russian agent.

In an action completely separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the Department of Justice today announced that it arrested Butina yesterday and is holding her in jail pending a court hearing Wednesday. What did she do?

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, from as early as 2015 and continuing through at least February 2017, Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank.  This Russian official was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018 [U.S. Department of Justice, press release, 2018.07.16].

Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin, at the Washington Hilton, Washington, D.C., posted by Butina to Facebook 2017.02.04.
Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin, at the Washington Hilton, following, I think, the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.; posted by Butina to Facebook 2017.02.04.

The director of Butina’s activities was Alexander Torshin, pictured above, who was among 189 Russian-related individuals and entities sanctioned by the U.S. last April for “malign activity around the globe.” Torshin’s malign activity appears to have included infiltrating conservative organizations in America, including the NRA, in which Torshin is a lifetime member.

According to the Department of Justice, Butina was doing the same thing as Torshin:

The court filings detail the Russian official’s and Butina’s efforts for Butina to act as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation. The filings also describe certain actions taken by Butina to further this effort during multiple visits from Russia and, later, when she entered and resided in the United States on a student visa. The filings allege that she undertook her activities without officially disclosing the fact that she was acting as an agent of Russian government, as required by law [DOJ, 2018.07.16].

The criminal complaint gives a little more detail:

While serving as a Special Assistant to an official of the Russian Federation, BUTINA would meet in person and communicate via electronic means with that official for the purpose of developing and executing a plan to identify and exploit personal connections with U.S. persons having influence in American politics who were in positions to advance the interests of the Russian Federation.

BUTINA did establish contact with an American political operative in Moscow who thereafter would work with BUTINA in the United States to jointly arrange introductions to U.S. persons having influence in American politics for the purpose of advancing the agenda of the Russian Federation [FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson, Appendix A to criminal complaint, sworn and filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 2018.07.14].

What a coincidence—last year I reported that she met with American political operative Paul Erickson in Moscow in November 2013:

Maria Butina and Paul Erickson, posted to FB 2013.11.01.
Maria Butina and Paul Erickson, posted to FB 2013.11.01.

As I reported last year, in April 2015, Erickson arranged for Butina to speak to students in the Sioux Falls school district about entrepreneurship and to students and community members at the University of South Dakota about her work on gun rights in Russia.

And then—and thenand then, Erickson accompanied Butina when she spoke to the 2015 South Dakota Teenage Republicans Camp in the Black Hills, hosted by U.S. person having influence in American politics Dusty Johnson.

Butina at TAR camp, from Dusty Johnson, FB, 2015.07.22.
Butina at TAR camp, from Dusty Johnson, FB, 2015.07.22.
Butina and SD TARS campers, photo posted to FB 2015.07.22.
Butina and SD TARS campers, photo posted to FB 2015.07.22.
Butina at SD TARS camp, 2015.07.22.
Butina at SD TARS camp, 2015.07.22.

That last picture—you see the back of Butina’s head. You see all those good South Dakota youths to whom she is speaking. And if you look to Butina’s 12:30, at the back of the audience, in the glasses and black t-shirt (with some white insignia…. a puppy? Milton Friedman? Che Guevara? hey, don’t get distracted…), you see Dusty Johnson, listening intently.

Dusty Johnson and Maria Butina in the same photograph. Let that sink in for a moment…

…then turn to this sentence, which I would be derelict in my journalistic, political, and patriotic duties if I did not say:

If the Department of Justice is correct, Dusty Johnson allowed a Russian agent to speak to his Teenage Republican Camp.

Let’s all let that sink in for a few moments… especially you, Dusty-challenger Tim Bjorkman… and you, Republicans, who have previously made a great fuss about connections between Russian agents and South Dakota Congressional candidates.

Related Reading: For happening completely separately from special counsel Mueller’s investigation, FBI Agent Helson’s affidavit says a whole lot about Butina’s work as part of Russia’s efforts to influence to influence our elections and our politics.

Russian influence operations are a threat to U.S. interests as they are low-cost, relatively low-risk, and deniable ways to shape foreign perceptions and to influence populations. Moscow seeks to create wedges that reduce trust and confidence in democratic processes, degrade democratization efforts, weaken U.S. partnerships with European allies, undermine Western sanctions, encourage anti-U.S. political views, and counter efforts to bring Ukraine and other former Soviet states into European institutions.

…The FBI’s investigation has further revealed that BUTINA and the RUSSIAN OFFICIAL took steps to develop relationships with American politicians in order to establish private, or as she called them, “back channel” lines of communication. These lines could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation [emphasis mine; FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson, affidavit in application for criminal complaint for Maria Butina, 2018.07.14].

No more apt sentence could come on the day of the disastrous Putin-Trump summit.

Bonus Kevin Bacon! You can’t bring a Russian agent to South Dakota without plunging her into our seven degrees of separation. Maria Butina and I are mutual Facebook friends with Hughes County GOP boss Mike Mehlhaff.

Maria Butina, Facebook screen cap, 2018.07.16.
arrows mine; Maria Butina, Facebook screen cap, 2018.07.16.

Мария! Мы почти брат и сестра! Позвони мне… после выхода из тюрмы!


  1. Jason 2018-07-16


    What exactly is the Russian interest in the NRA?

    Are they trying to promote Russia’s gun laws.

    A quick perusal of Russia’s gun laws looks like laws that Democrats would love and our founding fathers would piss on.

  2. Jason 2018-07-16

    I forgot to mention that our children have socialists and communists teaching them in our schools already. It’s sad but true.

  3. Nick Nemec 2018-07-16

    “arrange introductions to U.S. persons having influence in American politics for the purpose of advancing the agenda of the Russian Federation” Wow, just wow. The old Commie fighter Sen. Karl Mundt (R,SD) is rolling over in his grave.

  4. Tiffany Campbell 2018-07-16

    I asked Dusty on his FB campaign page if he wanted to explain. He basically acknowledged he was duped. He is clearly not ready for prime time. FYI: his comments are on his most recent FB post discussing parades.

  5. Roger Cornelius 2018-07-16

    Are South Dakota educators required to give their political party affiliation when they apply for a job? Do they have a box to check whether they are communists, socialist, oligarchs?

  6. Donald Pay 2018-07-16

    I do believe, also, that Bultina and Erickson have been pushing the Muslim-hate campaign that has duped a number of South Dakota Country Republican Parties. South Dakota hate has Russian funding.

  7. Roger Cornelius 2018-07-16

    I googled the NRA/Putin relationship, interesting reading.

  8. owen reitzel 2018-07-16

    “I forgot to mention that our children have socialists and communists teaching them in our schools already. It’s sad but true.”

    My wife is a long time teacher and this statement proves what an ignorant person you are Jason. She teaches neither. I’m guessing a history teacher will bring it up.

  9. 96Tears 2018-07-16

    Did Butina teach the South Dakota TARs how to pack a dead body in a suitcase to sneak it out of a hotel? Saw it on “The Americans.” I’m sure Dusty learned a lot.

  10. jerry 2018-07-16

    Comrade Jason, the reason the NRA got involved is strictly for corruption and money laundering. But you knew that already…

  11. jerry 2018-07-16

    Dusty was not duped into anything, he is a willing participant with the background that shows his pedigree. Dusty is the problem, Tim Bjorkman is the solution.

  12. jerry 2018-07-16

    Comrade NOem and TAR, coming soon, should be a real Putin like experience for young Republicans to make their parents proud. These girls can learn how to be all they can be good little comrades.

    Dusty showed his Putin chops and so does NOem, each day she keeps her trap shut in Washington like the good little comrades they are. Time for both of them to get off the fakey American thing and spend some time at home…in Moscow, we don’t need them.

  13. Roger Cornelius 2018-07-16

    Is Noem in a position to make political hay of Dusty/Russian connection or is she somehow compromised?

  14. jerry 2018-07-16

    Comrade Dusty says he was duped? Are ya kidding me? Here is what others have said about the treasonous acts of Comrade trump and those who support him.

    “Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in a statement that “Russia attempted to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy, impugn the reliability of the 2016 election, and sow the seeds of discord among Americans” and that he hoped Trump administration leaders “will be able to communicate to the President it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success.”

    House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement that “there is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.”
    “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” Ryan continued. “There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”

    So Comrade Dusty, nothing. Comrade NOem, nothing. Comrade Confederate Thune, nothing. Comrade Rounds, nothing. This is who has been sent to represent us, they need to resign and ask us to forgive their treason. The two gents listed above showed some moral courage that even they cannot stomach a traitor and treason.

  15. leslie 2018-07-16

    who are these “flake” lawyers like Erickson, Tapio, Lauck, and others who hatch GOP schemes (taking down Daschle), don’t practice much law, seem to be unaware of ethics, and is Ravensberg of that type?

  16. Jason 2018-07-16


    What subject does your wife teach?

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-16

    Let’s recap what we’ve heard in the comment section so far:

    Jason starts off with two total misdirections, irrelevant to the substance of the charges against Butina and the nefarious, anti-American intent of her boss, the Russian government. Owen, Roger, and Jerry provide apt correction.

    Nick Nemec offers an appropriate historical reminder of our state history… and reminds me that as I rage here behind the keyboard and on the phone, I find myself talking like an old McCarthyite, wondering if we have to go hunting for Russians permeating all of our civil institutions. It’s what Mundt did.

    Tiffany gets Dusty to get out in front of the show and blunt any effort to use this scandal against him politically:

    This looks like yet more evidence that the Russian government is not a friend to the United States. Ms Butina posed as a freedom fighter, struggling against the oppression of the Putin regime. Instead, it looks like she’s a scam artist and a liar.

    …She spoke effectively about the horror of living under a tyrannical regime. She spoke to our group, Sioux Falls schools, the University of South Dakota, and others. If she’s guilty, I hope she does a good long while in prison [Dusty Johnson for Congress, Facebook replies, 2018.07.16].


    Donald Pay suggests a connection that I have wondered about. The Russians have waged war on the Muslim Chechens, and they culturally loathe their southern Muslim neighbors. They’d love to have us find common ground with them in Islamophobia and racism. But we don’t have evidence on that connection yet (someone find me a photo of Maria Butina with Ed Randazzo or Neal Tapio).

    Roger is having some fun, doing some good reading… and asking a good question about how and whether Noem comes into this show. I don’t think any Republican connected to the NRA comes out with happy points from Butina. Noem doesn’t dare mention it, because she doesn’t want to surrender her seat to Tim Bjorkman. The GOP candidates are all in it together… along with probably a bunch of little campaign interns who attended Maria Butina’s indoctrination speech three summers ago with Dusty and Mathew Wollmann.

    Leslie asks a simple question with a simple answer: YES, Ravnsborg is that type. Get your keester to the Dem convention on August 10 and help us make sure we properly renominate Randy Seiler!

    Jerry, au contraire! Rounds and Thune have issued statements, though not about Maria Butina’s infiltration of their SDGOP. Rounds’s is bonkers—I’ll review it in the morning… if other news doesn’t leap into the cycle!

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-16

    No, Jason, I’m shutting down that conversation now. Off topic. Take your personal conversation with Owen to another channel, and don’t distract us from this discussion of the possibility that Russian interference in our democratic decision-making apparatus is so pervasive that includes the backwater South Dakota Republican Party.

  19. Lee Schoenbeck 2018-07-16

    Tapio and Lauck are NOT lawyers, and are very different people (never seen them lumped together before)! Erickson is a fake lawyer, so you got that one right.

  20. jerry 2018-07-16

    Comrade Jason, they need you in in Moscow with the rest of the comrades like Dusty and his gal pal Maria Butina. Comrade Putin will even let you play guns there as well…or maybe not.

  21. Debbo 2018-07-16

    Great, I said GREAT JOURNALISM Cory!! Really outstanding!

    So lil Dusty has been hanging out with Ms. Russian Spy? That should cost much more than 5 points. SD, do you want a Congressional rep who’s that easily duped? What if he wasn’t duped at all, but knew what was going on and decided he liked the pay? Are SD voters willing to take that chance? I wouldn’t.

  22. Jason 2018-07-16


    Are you saying she was spying on the NRA?

    What do you think she found to transmit to Moscow?

    Do you think Russia will adopt the Second Amendment that Americans died for to give to you from this infiltration?

  23. Michael 2018-07-16

    Fabulous story! Re Jason’s question, I sure wonder what the Russian tie-in to NRA is. Maybe not pertinent to the SD angle here, but as part of the larger story/context. I just can’t imagine concealed carry being allowed for Russian citizens.

  24. Rachel 2018-07-16

    Every member of my family teaches. They care. They are kind and smart. Their political affiliation has nothing to do with their teaching ability. It’s interesting when faced with blatant evidence of Russian interference in US elections people throw up the “socialist” or “ communist” remark. This transcends politics. We have a party who has promoted hate, misinformation, intolerance and bigotry. If you continue to support this mentality, then I feel sorry for you.

  25. Jenny 2018-07-16

    What Nick N said, wow just wow!
    Unfortunately though, this will be Just a slight embarrassment for team Dusty and the SD republican regime. They’ve been grooming him for years to take the reins someday so just keep on marching. ‘Nothing to see here, nothing to see, the press is bad,the press is bad and fake. Can’t trust the news’.

  26. Kal Lis 2018-07-17

    Some folks, well ok one folk has trouble getting the story straight. These 2 paragraphs Lawfare might help

    “So what has the government alleged? That Mariia Butina engaged in a conspiracy with a Russian government official in order to soften U.S. policy toward Russia on behalf of Moscow without properly notifying the Department of Justice. She did this, the government alleges, by using relationships with officials in influential conservative political groups, including the National Rifle Association, to establish private lines of communication on behalf of representatives of the Russian government.

    The Russian official in question is allegedly a “high-level official in the Russian government” who was “previously a member of the legislature” and a “top official at the Russian Central Bank”—a description that matches the biography of Alexander Torshin, who was a senator in the upper house of the Russian parliament for more than 10 years and later served as a deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank. Multiple news stories over the past few months have reported on his and Butina’s support of the NRA. Indeed, both Butina and Torshin are lifetime members of the NRA: In 2016, Torshin tweeted that he and Butina were the only Russians who could claim that distinction. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Torshin “directed” Butina in her activities in the United States.”

  27. Porter Lansing 2018-07-17

    It’s a perfect time to repost this tell all story about the Russian infiltration of the NRA, South Dakota’s involvement and the dark money Russia gave to Trump through the NRA. (also why Maria Butina and Paul Erickson launched a corporation in South Dakota to access the most underregulated banking laws in USA). It’s a very in depth article from last April and fascinating because of it’s SoDak subplot.

  28. David Newquist 2018-07-17

    A comment fact check: Lauck has a law degree from the U. of Minnesota. Does that make him a lawyer?

  29. Dicta 2018-07-17

    @David: no, it does not. I have a law degree, but do not hold a certification to practice law. As such, I cannot tell people I am a lawyer and cannot give legal advice to anyone without getting myself into trouble.

    As to Dusty allowing her to speak to a camp: so? Is there any evidence he had reason to believe a woman giving a speech on gun rights (which is a particularly heated wedge issue at the moment) was acting as an influence peddler for Russia at the time (hell, did any of us)? I want to hold the guy responsible for stuff, but this article feels…. off.

    Trump, on the other hand…

  30. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-17

    Dicta, anyone who looks at the statement, “Dusty Johnson allowed a Russian agent to speak to his Teenage Republican Camp” and says “so what?” misses the point. Even without any knowing collusion with Putin’s agenda to influence American politics in Russia’s favor, she posed as a freedom fighter while working for a tyrant who wants to weaken America. As Dusty himself says, she’s a scam artist and a liar.

    And if Butina has spoken at a Democratic youth event, do you think the Republicans would pass up the chance to use that incident against us at the polls? Let’s not be silly.

  31. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-17

    Whatever the splatter on Dusty, the bigger point is the possible depth of the Russian effort to manipulate our politics. If they could afford to send an agent to South Dakota TARs camp, how many other institutions have they infiltrated?

  32. Dicta 2018-07-17

    I agree with you that there is clear reason to be openly hostile to Russia at this point. But this article wasn’t simply about that. It kinda feels like the ENTIRE POINT was to splatter Dusty (look at the title). And your justification seems to be that the GOP would use the same tactic. Is that the standard you would hold yourself to? Maybe we should claim the tax cut implemented death panels.

  33. CLCJM 2018-07-17

    One thing that’s not been mentioned here is that the NRA received money from, if memory serves, a Russian supposedly gun rights group in Russia. Cory, have you read anything about that? Don’t think it was petty cash either! Where did the NRA use that? Campaign donations?

  34. Jenny 2018-07-17

    The NRA bought Trump for 30 million. Wouldn’t be surprised if there was Russian money included in that.
    Our government is just rotted to the core in corruption and we can’t do a darn thing about it.

  35. Jason 2018-07-17


    How much money did the Unions spend on Hillary?


    Your link has no proof Russian money went to the NRA.

    She was arrested just because she didn’t register.

  36. Roger Cornelius 2018-07-17

    And here is Jason, just as irrelevant as he usually is and with his attempts to distract from the Russian/Trump story.

    If Jason wants to know about Hillary and unions, he can google it.

  37. Porter Lansing 2018-07-17

    Unions are off topic. Ms. Butina was arrested for not registering so she wouldn’t flee while Mueller prepares the proof that Russian money was laundered to the NRA and they illegally funneled to candidate Trump’s campaign.
    Jason, you’re right to be defensive of the NRA. I heard a Hannity interview with Olly North and he was scared to death. He’s calling for all NRA members to recruit one new member. He realizes how close NRA is to indictment and is trying to raise money for lawyers, pronto. Send him some money Jason. You’ve got plenty.

  38. owen reitzel 2018-07-17

    Sorry Cory. I know it’s off topic but I couldn’t resist.

    I know that WNAX interviewed Dusty on this, bit the South Dakota media has to keep on this.

  39. Debbo 2018-07-17

    It will be fun to see Whyne LaPierre behind bars for the rest of his life for treason or traitorhood or tax evasion or money laundering or some pleasant combination of the above. Even more fun to see Oily North, Ted NoGent, and a few other slime balls next to him. 😁😁😁

  40. Jason 2018-07-17

    You sure got me Owen. 110 Mil. Is way less than 30 Mil.

  41. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-17

    Dusty Johnson tells Dana Ferguson that, yes, it was Paul Erickson who recommended having Butina speak at TARs camp. Johnson vetted her:

    Prior to her speech, Johnson scoured Butina’s record online and found no reason to question her. He said he also felt more comfortable hosting the free speaker because USD and Sioux Falls schools had also welcomed her in.

    “Expecting that people at a summer camp would sniff out a Russian spy as part of a 25-minute speech about freedom is probably expecting more than any rational person could,” he said [Dana Ferguson, “This Is How Maria Butina Got on the Speaker Circuit in South Dakota,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2018.07.17].

    I’ll grant Dusty that: how would any of us know that an individual is a Russian spy?

    But what did Paul Erickson know?

  42. mike from iowa 2018-07-17

    What if any connections does she have with Lee Stranahan? Curious iowan would like to know.

  43. owen reitzel 2018-07-17

    Good question MFI. I never thought of that.

  44. owen reitzel 2018-07-17

    Guess reading isn’t your strong suit is it Jason?

  45. mike from iowa 2018-07-17

    he National Rifle Association’s political arm set a fundraising record in 2016, taking in a staggering $366 million. That’s according to the group’s latest annual filing with the Internal Revenue Service, a copy of which was obtained by Mother Jones.


    The figures in the IRS filing are for the NRA’s politically active non-profit arm—a 501(c)(4) entity, in IRS parlance. The 501(c)(4), which is legally allowed to participate in political campaigns, spent $412 million in 2016, far more than even its record fundraising figure.* Separately, the NRA has a Political Action Committee, which also engages in electoral spending.

  46. Jenny 2018-07-17

    The National RussianAssociation is the NRAs new name I heard.

  47. Debbo 2018-07-17

    I like it Jenny. Much more honest.

  48. Sue Cohen 2018-07-17

    Jenny-That is awesome-Will be sharing
    Here is Putin & Trump’s friend lobbing a softball question at #TraitorTrump in 2015
    Note how he criticizes Obama for being too-friendly with Russia while saying, “I know Putin”

  49. mike from iowa 2018-07-17

    For wiw, Mueller is seeking immunity for 5 witnesses against Manafort.

  50. Sue Cohen 2018-07-17

    Trump can not undo what he did live in front the world-He betrayed US & committed treason-period
    All that is left is how many GOP Traitors will go down with him

  51. Roger Cornelius 2018-07-17

    In the early days of the Mueller investigation there was speculation that the NRA handed out nearly $170 million in campaign contributions, mostly to republicans.

  52. mike from iowa 2018-07-17

    Owen, Stranahan was on the list of witnesses Dems wanted the House Select Committees to call. Either he told them to ef off or he refused to cooperate.

    Sputnik News (where Stranahan is now employed) calls her indictment “politicking while Russian” and compares it to “driving while black”. Yes they did call it racist.

    And of course she is portrayed as an innocent student who just wanted to meet politicians.

  53. mike from iowa 2018-07-17

    One more thingy, Mueller has obtained a letter from Drumpf to Putin that was hand delivered in 2013, far earlier than any previous attempt to contact Putin from Drumpf.

  54. Jason 2018-07-17

    Owen, my reading is great.

    Unions spent 110 Million campaigning for Hillary. The NRA spent 30 Million campaigning for Trump according to Jenny.

    Your reading comprehension is horrible. Read my question to Jenny again.

  55. mike from iowa 2018-07-17

    Unions spent 110 Million campaigning for Hillary. Prove it.

    Unions spent most of their election money fighting challenges against unions and union workers by right wing nut jobs.

  56. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-17

    Butina is accused of committing crimes. “U.S. Person #1,” widely reported to likely be Paul Erickson, may have knowingly facilitated the secret activity of this unregistered Russian agent acting on behalf of the Kremlin in America. Treason?

  57. leslie 2018-07-17

    David-I must say you have been hitting them out there so well:)

    Thx Lee for the heads up re: Tapio a non-lawyer. Too late for Dusty to distance himself from lawyer Erickson?

    Ditca-“ was run by a South Dakota professor Jon Lauck… an attorney according to his profile at the Republican National Lawyers Association, he was the “chairman of the Lawyers for Thune Committee….On July 30, 2003, the attorneys representing filed a brief responding to the original complaint. Jon Lauck was one of the two attorneys who signed the brief….”

  58. leslie 2018-07-17

    ps, article also lumps Lauck and Tapio together

  59. Porter Lansing 2018-07-17

    @SueCohen Great question. What does little ol’ SoDak have that Russia needed enough to send a young, female Sparrow agent? I believe Russia needed a place to launder money from Russian oligarchs to the NRA without detection. First, Russia needed a South Dakota corporation aka Bridges LLC.
    According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., South Dakota holds more bank assets — $2.5 trillion — than any other state in the country.
    … South Dakota was the only state with this unusually lax approach to banking laws, and Citibank was soon joined by Wells Fargo, Capital One, First Premier, and other financial institutions that were eager to relocate their credit-card operations to the Mount Rushmore State.

  60. mike from iowa 2018-07-17

    SueCohen, Bridges LLC was a business set up by Ericson and Butina to help fund her graduate studies, if any help was needed. Apparently there have been no financial transfers.

    There is a shot of the corporate paper drawn up for the LLC

  61. Porter Lansing 2018-07-17

    MFI … Strangest thing. The link you posted will load up for five seconds ( long enough to see the title 5 Things You Need To Know About Paul Erickson) and then it goes blank. I tried it three times from DFP and then copied and pasted to another search engine and the same thing happened. Pretty funny stuff, amigo. :0)

  62. mike from iowa 2018-07-17

    I just clicked it and it works fine for me, Porter. Try typing in and see if you can get it that way.

  63. Porter Lansing 2018-07-17

    MFI … It worked on Apple but not my PC system. thx

  64. Jason 2018-07-17

    MFI wrote:

    Unions spent 110 Million campaigning for Hillary. Prove it.

    It’s in Owens article he linked to.

  65. mike from iowa 2018-07-17

    As a bonus, you get 5 things to know about Maria Butina. Lucky you, Porter.

  66. Sue Cohen 2018-07-17

    Great info Porter-Thx very much

  67. mike from iowa 2018-07-17

    I guess reading isn’t your strong suit is it, Jason?

    Between January 2015 and August 2016, labor unions spent nearly $110 million on the elections- not HRC. She got $360,686 from unions.

  68. Porter Lansing 2018-07-17

    Jason … Is it Attention Deficit Disorder that prevents you from staying on topic? Trump has that, too so don’t get discouraged. Just try to do your best, young man. We’re here for support. Just ask.

  69. Jason 2018-07-17

    Are you guys saying the 110 Million the unions spent were on Trump ads to get him elected?

    Are you guys saying the RNA gave Trump 30 Million directly?

    LOL. I knew you two weren’t that smart, but this is off the charts.

  70. owen reitzel 2018-07-17

    Unions spent $110,000 on ALL campaigns. According to this story unions spent $360,686 for Hillary. Easy to comprehend Jason.
    The $30 million Trump got from the NRA might have come from Russia. I believe it’s being investigated. I could believe it though. Putin said he wanted Trump to win.

  71. Jason 2018-07-17

    Between January 2015 and August 2016, labor unions spent nearly $110 million on the elections, according to a recent Federal Election Committee as analyzed by the Wall Street Journal. That’s a 38% increase from the $78 million spent during the same 20-month period in 2012, and nearly double the amount spent in 2008.

  72. jerry 2018-07-17

    How would Comrade Dusty not know that Maria was a Russian Spy? She has been working with the kind of higher echelon Russians for at least 3 years. Surely Comrade Dusty had to have known something. Comrade Dusty needs to stay away from Washington where he could get in problems because he so damn dumb, or wants us to think he is.

    “Maria Butina, the cofounder of the mysterious Russian gun-rights group called “Right to Bear Arms” who recently graduated with a master’s degree from American University, “took steps to develop relationships with American politicians in order to establish private, or as she called them, ‘back channel’ lines of communication,” according to an affidavit attached to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on Saturday.

    “These lines could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation,” the affidavit reads, using Russia’s official country name.”

    Playing dumb, works in South Dakota though, or will it. Treason is a new low that even die hard Republicans might find distasteful.

  73. jerry 2018-07-17

    Comrade Dusty goes along with Comrade Louie Gohmert, trying to out dumb one another with his fable about not knowing that There Was Something About Maria.

    Gohmert Says Russian Election Interference Has Been ‘Going On for 70 Years

    ‘“It’s been going on for 70 years,” he said. “It helped Truman get elected in ’48. Eisenhower called the Russians on it in ’56 and manipulation there.”

    Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev bragged about throwing the election to President John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Russia helped Jimmy Carter’s election in 1976,Gohmert said.

    “So I am thrilled that we are going to get help across the aisle to get to the Russian input stopped,” he said”

    Dusty and Louie, even have that same devilish smile to go along with their IQ.

  74. Cody Raterman 2018-07-17

    She spoke at USD for a Farber Lecture. Met her. She was with a guy (frizzy hair, where not bald). Seemed nice. Wanted guns in Russia. Dusty is a Farber Boy / Board Member. Is that how he got involved with her?

  75. Pierre Denerome 2018-07-17

    Your blog should be required reading from both side of the aisle.
    Most informative,non bias blog we found.Thank you Sir.

    P.S. My ancestors lived in SD in the 1840’s.My family and I live in Papeete,Tahiti and Marina Del Rey CA.

  76. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-17

    Dusty told the press that Erickson suggested bringing her to TARs camp, Dusty then Googled her a bit and said o.k. fine.

    Bald/frizzy dude is likely Erickson.

  77. mike from iowa 2018-07-18

    Jason can’t read or comprehend. There was moar than HRC running for election on the Democrat ticket in 2016. Unions also spent vast sums of pesos trying to win back the senate for Dems and the house and on state levels, too.

  78. Jason 2018-07-18


    Hillary got at least 29 Million in direct contributions from unions.

    That’s not taking into account money sent to pacs to campaign for her.

    Can you comprehend that?

  79. mike from iowa 2018-07-18

    Prove it, Jason. Let’s see the evidence and remember your accused her of getting 110 million from Unions. Can you comprehend that?

  80. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-18

    I await evidence that Maria Butina attempted to infiltrate unions and use them to exert Russian influence on America’s democratic decision-making apparatus.

  81. Jason 2018-07-18


    Where did I say she received 110 million directly?

    Your reading comprehension is horrible.

    My proof of the 29 million is on

    Didn’t you learn your lesson after your SD grandfathered insurance plans lie?

  82. Terry 2018-07-19

    I have never seen such ignorance posted in years!
    I expect stupidity and moronic sayings like “comrade xxx” by you liberal uneducated, low information morons but Jesus what idiots!
    I read about 15 as I laughed at their comments, then had to move on to reality…
    I guess when you are a welfare baby from birth and possibly still living with your parents you should blame them for stunting your mind… Your level of intelligence has become very hampered, so maybe you should read your own drivel before you open your mouth to prove to the rest of the world just how low your intelligence quotient is… Please, for your own sake grow up, get some mental help…

  83. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-19

    As usual, a comment that includes “you liberal” and “morons” in the opening line is sure to avoid the issue and resort tired old barroom insults that add nothing but anger and distraction to the conversation. Boring.

  84. Jenny 2018-07-19

    Very boring, Cory, and I don’t know how you can stand living in South Dakota where there are ‘Terry’s everywhere that have such closed minds and such low paying jobs along with low levels of education. That stats speak for themselves.
    They keep the NRA and gun shops in business.

  85. mike from iowa 2018-07-19

    Terry sounds like OldSferbrains. He/she/it probably can’t read and is just repeating stoopid wingnut talking points.

  86. owen reitzel 2018-07-19

    Typical right wing low information person. Terry doesn’t even have the courage to use his last name.
    Terry if you want to have discussions about current events then by all means join in and state your views.
    If all you can do is use insults then please stay away.

  87. Sue Cohen 2018-07-19

    Remember the old adage
    When the debate is lost-slander becomes the tool of the loser.

  88. Jenny 2018-07-19

    Can you imagine if a Russian spy was sniffing around Team Bjorkman or Team Sutton? OMG, the horror, the SD Republicans would scream! If Paul Erickson was a Democrat the SD Republicans would be going nonstop 24/7.

  89. jerry 2018-07-19

    Comrade Terry, did you get your fee fees hurt? Poor boy.

  90. Roger Cornelius 2018-07-19

    Terry swiped his comment directly from #WalkAway propaganda

  91. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-19

    Jenny, if I didn’t live here, I wouldn’t be able to catch the Russians at the center of their influence operation! South Dakota is where it’s at!

    I generally don’t argue hypotheticals (“If this were happening with Obama/Clinton/Sutton/Bjorkman…”), but in this case, the hypothetical is real. The SDGOP spin machine thought Matt Varilek’s endorsement by George McGovern was justification to bring up McGovern’s long-past meeting with Castro to rouse the Mundt-y Red haters. Now when their GOP House candidate is in the frame with an accused Russian spy, they go silent on the matter.

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