U.S. Far Right Figures Flew to Russia to Party with Oligarchs and Fascists
A cache of hacked emails revealed that a senior figure in the Bradley Foundation, a prominent financier of right-wing groups in the US, attended a gala alongside Russian oligarchs and officials shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
The Daily Beast reported that a new leak site called Distributed Denial of Secrets hacked the email accounts of Russian officials and sanctioned oligarchs. When the site went live, it revealed the attendance list of a “pro-family” conference and gala event held in Russia in 2014.
Among the 140 estimated attendees was Dan Schmidt, one of the Bradley Foundation’s Vice Presidents in 2014. The Bradley Foundation is one of the main financiers of right-wing institutions including the Daily Caller News Foundation, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian oligarch who has since been the target of U.S. sanctions, Alexander Dugin, a prominent Russian fascist, and Igor Shchegov, who was then working as an advisor to President Vladimir Putin, were also among the attendees.
Representatives from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), an American right-wing homeschooling group, also attended, as did Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, and Janice Crouse, a former speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush.
Distributed Denial of Secrets released the emails as part of a package which includes communications between Kremlin officials and those charged with carrying out Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. politics.
The 2014 gala is significant as it illustrates a concerted effort from Russian officials to court the American religious right. Among the attendees was Sergei Rudov, who went on to host senior members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) during its trip to Russia the following year. Attendee Alexander Dugin, the high-profile Russian fascist who has previously called for Ukrainians to be “cleansed” and for the killing of protestors in Russia, is also acquainted with white supremacists in the U.S. like Richard Spencer and Matthew Heimbach.
Even at the time, the event was not without controversy. Some American conservative groups decided not to participate in the conference and gala. The Concerned Women for America, for example, withdrew from the event. Explaining the reasoning behind the decision, the group said it didn’t want to “appear to be giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin,” Think Progress reports.
Dan Schmidt has not publicly commented on his 2014 trip to Russia.