Sam Patten, an associate of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Konstantin Kilimnik, has pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act and willfully lobbying for Russian and Ukraine, Bloomberg reports. As a part of his plea deal, he has agreed to cooperate with the government in exchange for leniency at sentencing. After surrendering his passport, he was released on his own recognizance.
Per CNN, Patten’s case was referred by Robert Mueller’s office to the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia and his hearing was in front of Judge Amy Jackson Berman, the same judge who Paul Manafort will appear before in his upcoming trial in September.
According to the charging document, Patten is accused of meeting with members of the press, members of Congress, and State department officials to lobby for the Ukrainian Opposition Bloc and doing so without registering, as required by law, with the Justice Department. The consulting company he formed with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort associate who has been indicted in absentia and is currently assumed to be living in Russia, was paid more than a million dollars for their lobbying work, the Washington Post reports.
Sam Patten, 47, has had ties with Kilimnik, who the special counsel accuses of being associated with Russian intelligence, through the International Republican Institute in Moscow, and Manafort and Gates while working on Ukrainian campaigns. He worked with Cambridge Analytica in 2014 in both the US and overseas.
He also worked in the State Department under George W. Bush after working on Bush’s presidential campaign.
The court document does not mention Manafort or their mutual associates but Patten may yet be connected to them in the Russia investigation. While Mueller’s office did refer this case to the US attorney’s office, Andrew Weissmann, an attorney on the special counsel’s team attended today’s hearing, which indicates Mueller’s office has a continued interest in the case, according to Vox.
The lobbying registration laws have been loosely enforced, but the Justice Department is looking more closely at lobbyists in light of the Russia investigation and Manafort prosecution. If an individual willfully and knowingly fails to register as a foreign agent, such a violation can be a felony. Manafort was found guilty on eight counts of bank and tax fraud earlier this month in Virginia and faces additional charges in DC. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges he has been accused of. Manafort’s trial is scheduled to begin September 24.
Judge Jackson set a deadline of October 31 for the prosecution and defense to update the court on the Patten case.