Biden’s campaign freezes donation from businessman Gaurav Srivastava citing legal concerns

New York, March 20 (IANS) US President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign and a Democratic Party outfit are freezing donations totalling about $340,000 from an Indian American businessman amid controversies, local media reported.

Politico quoted Joe Biden’s campaign official as saying that the Biden Victory Fund (BVF) was putting Gaurav Srivastava’s donation of $50,000 on hold because of concerns about the “legality and source” of the funds.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was setting aside donations of almost $290,000 from a man identifying Gaurav Srivastava out of an abundance of caution, its spokesperson was quoted by Politico.

The Los Angeles-based businessman who runs a charitable organisation named for himself and his wife, the Gaurav and Sharon Srivastava Family Foundation, has been snagged by controversies.

Politico had earlier reported that the think tank Atlantic Council had cut ties to him after receiving almost $1 million from him and his wife for a world food security forum in Bali in 2022.

Under the US election laws, direct contribution to a candidate is limited to $3,300 by an individual, but give a way around it by allowing more to be donated to campaign committees that meet certain legal requirements.

The BVF splits the contributions it gets between the direct Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state party units.

The DCCC works to elect party members to the House of Representatives.

Both donations attributed to Srivastava were made last year.

Politico reported that a representative and a senator, both Democrats, said that they had received contributions from the Gaurav Srivastava but were donating them to charities.

Two senators and two representatives had also received contributions from the Foundation, according to Politico.

His personal website opens with, “Hi. I am a philanthropist”, but does not give any details about him.

The foundation website says that the couple has “backgrounds in international community service and solving financial and security related challenges” and was dedicated to “securing food and energy access for families across the globe”.

Politico reported that in the donation to the BVF, he identified himself as an “urban designer” with AECOM, but a spokesperson for the consulting firm said that no one with that name works for it in the US.

In the donation to the DCCC, he identified himself as the chairman of Unity Resource Group (URG), Politico said.

On its website, URG describes itself as “a leading provider of effective solutions to business, governments and organisations pursuing success in challenging and high-risk environments”.

Among its services, it lists “high level personal and major event security operations across many industries”, a limousine service in Australia and New Zealand and training in “combat medicine”.

Gaurav Srivastava appears to have cultivated influential connections.

The LA Weekly has published a picture of Gaurav Srivastava with Joe Biden.

Politico reported that Unity Resource had employed the lobbying firm run by Ankit Desai, who had worked as a legislative aide to Biden when he was a senator.

Gaurav Srivastava had hired Wesley Clark, a retired general who had served as the supreme allied commander of NATO and was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, as a consultant.

He told Politico that he helped Gaurav Srivastava meet international leaders and with global shipping matters, but they broke up after 10 months when the businessman did not pay him.

Clark told Politico that Gaurav Srivastava wanted to give “sizeable donations to politicians” and he introduced him to a former Biden campaign manager, Greg Schutz.

An online investigative outlet, Project Brazen, made several allegations against Gaurav Srivastava and said that he had claimed to be a Central Intelligence Agency operative, but both it and Politico said that his representatives denied the allegations.

Politico said that it could not reach Gaurav Srivastava, but his lawyer said the allegations made against him by Project Brazen were “categorically false”.

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