Russia is funding the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and the Obama administration is certainly aware that it is happening, says Richard Rahn, senior fellow at the CATO Institute.
"We've had a number of reports going on for quite a while that Russian money was finding its way in U.S. environmental groups. Now, we've got increased evidence of this," Rahn told J.D. Hayworth and Miranda Khan on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV
Wednesday. Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist, joined the panel.
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Rahn says that he "learned that money was going in to U.S. environmental groups and over the last couple of weeks there has been a number of very well documented reports showing money from various offshore entities ... we know they're closely tied to Russian interests.
"That money goes into environmental bundlers in the U.S. and then is distributed to U.S. environmental organizations to oppose Keystone and oil and gas development in the U.S.," he said.
These offshore entities "don't show the sources of their income," but Congress could subpoena the financial records of environmental groups to determine "where they get their money from and where those who are the bundlers get their money from — it's just following the money back to the original sources," he said.
Not only does Rahn say that he's "certain" that the Obama administration is aware that Russia is funding the Keystone opposition, "I expect they've actually encouraged it.
"All this kind of information, these foreign financial flows, all go into the Justice Department through the Treasury Department, the CIA, FBI and so forth," he said.
"They monitor all these financial flows from around the world into and out of the U.S.," he added. "With almost certainty, they're aware of it.
"There have been reports I've heard that the FBI, for instance, was told to stay away from the investigation of it," the CATO fellow told Newsmax.
"This helps the president and his particular agenda by having money going to support his allies, and all money going into environmental organizations is fungible and is used to probably oppose Republican candidates during the election," he said.
The problem, from Rahn's point-of-view, isn't so much that the Russians are doing this but that the environmental groups and the government are allowing it.
"Russia gets about 70 percent of its total foreign exchange from the sale of oil and gas. It accounts for about 50 percent of a Russian budget," he said.
"They have a huge interest in trying to keep Europe and North America from producing more oil and gas to keep their own markets.
"It's a rational business decision for them."
Rahn recently wrote about Russia's involvement in stopping the Keystone XL pipeline in a column for The Washington Times
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