The venality of the Trump-era Republican apparatchik has no lower bound (not that the pre-Trump ones were good people). Take, for instance, Paul Erickson, who was stupid enough to think that an attractive woman half his age really did want to go out with him (narrator: she didn’t), who is a horrible person (boldface mine):
Erickson struck up a relationship with Butina, 29, in 2013. Butina, a Russian gun rights activist, attended American University and allegedly worked closely with Russian central bank official Alexander Torshin to influence American politics, according to court records. Butina is currently in solitary confinement in the Alexandria jail on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent.
Throughout the Butina court documents, federal investigators mention a “U.S. Person 1”—an individual Butina worked with, dated and used to make connections with “an extensive network” of right-wing political figures. That person, who documents say is closely tied to the National Rifle Association, is widely believed to be Erickson…
Erickson spent most of his professional life between the Sioux Falls and Washington, D.C. After graduating from the University of Virginia law school in 1988, he worked in various capacities for Republicans, including as a political director on the presidential campaign of Pat Buchanan. During his time working as a political operative, Erickson founded and worked in a handful of different companies, some of which he used to set up fraudulent investment deals, according to court documents…
As first reported by The Daily Beast in July, several people have sued Erickson in California, Virginia, and South Dakota, claiming he misrepresented himself and his businesses and failed to pay investors back.
“I’d like to know where the guy is, and how he is making a living, because he owes me a lot of money,” a former business partner said.
In one case, according to court records, Erickson claimed to have set up a company in North Dakota. He solicited investment from individuals at the conservative events he frequented, telling them he would set up a real estate transaction that offered high returns. The Secretary of State’s office in North Dakota told The Daily Beast the company did not exist and one individual sued Erickson in California, alleging he duped him into investing in a fraudulent venture.
One source familiar with Erickson described him to The Daily Beast as “kind of like a taller, more physically unappealing Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me if You Can,” the movie about a serial scam artist.
In my experience, con men are themselves relatively easy marks if you find the right angle. That he thought Butina saw him as something other than an asset to be handled is par for the course. So too, his history of slimy deals. Man of our times.