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The husband of a Miami Democrat hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo this November has financial ties to an Eastern European oligarch dogged by allegations of contract killings and embezzlement.
Public records show that Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s husband, Robert Powell, spent much of the last 10 years as general counsel for companies owned at least in part by Igor Kolomoisky, a wealthy Ukrainian businessman involved in banking and mining. In federal financial disclosures, Mucarsel-Powell reported that her husband of 15 years earned most of their household income during the previous two years — at least $695,000 — from a ferroalloys trading corporation associated with Kolomoisky.
Mucarsel-Powell, considered by national Democrats as one of the most likely challengers to defeat a Republican incumbent in November’s midterm elections, says her husband’s work and the companies that employed him are irrelevant to her campaign.
“Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is running for Congress, not her husband. To imply that Debbie has anything to do with an indirect shareholder of a parent company that once employed her husband is an enormous stretch,” said Michael Hernandez, a senior communications adviser for the campaign.
But the financial relationship, first reported Monday by the Daily Beast., could become a liability, particularly at a time of deep suspicion toward Eastern European influences. Joanna Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Curbelo’s campaign, said South Florida’s voters “deserve a representative with no allegiance to the kind of thuggish corruption described in this report.”
“South Florida immigrant families who have fled corrupt regimes around the world know far too well the kind of violence and corruption an oligarch can wage. It’s incomprehensible and disrespectful to believe someone whose lifestyle has been subsidized by a known contract killer for nearly 10 years could look voters in the eye and allege to fight for them,” Rodriguez said.
Starting about a decade ago, Powell began representing companies in which Kolomoisky has invested. Powell was general counsel for Optima Acquisitions, Felman Trading and Felman Productions, and the Miami-based Georgian-American Alloys, among others.
“I have never worked for, represented, answered to, or received any payment from Mr. Kolomoisky at any time,” Powell said in a statement issued through his wife’s campaign.
But court filings show that Kolomoisky at different times has owned, directly or indirectly, a third of Optima, all of Felman Productions (for which Felman Trading is a distributor), and a piece of GAA. In a 2010 court order, a federal judge in West Virginia, where Felman Trading operates a manganese production facility on the Ohio River, said it appeared that Powell “answers” to Kolomoisky. The same court order states that Felman Productions was a subsidiary of a company owned by a Kolomoisky firm, and that Felman was one of three shareholders in PrivatBank, the largest commercial bank in Ukraine.
Kolomoisky, meanwhile, has been accused of bribery, murder and embezzlement in recent years by business partners and government authorities. The Telegraph of London reported in 2016 that a former partner accused Kolomoisky during a heated lawsuit of threatening him and attempting to have him killed through a murder-for-hire plot in which the hitmen were later themselves killed — a claim Kolomoisky strenuously denied.
Read more here.