Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg December 9, 2019

Pants on Fire claim that Adam Schiff under investigation for Burisma ties

One America News, a pro-Trump cable news upstart, posted a story with a powerful headline. "Adam Schiff Under Investigation for Ukrainian Burisma Oil Connections," it said Nov. 30.

It would be a twist if Schiff himself were under investigation for his ties to Burisma. But One America News’ report is rife with factual errors and misleading innuendo.

Schiff, D-Calif, spearheaded the House Intelligence Committee investigation into President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. When his father was vice president, Hunter Biden took a lucrative post on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

One America makes a claim that Schiff has received campaign donations from companies tied to Burisma. 

"New evidence appears to show that Schiff has received donations from two U.S. corporations tied to the $7.4 billion corruption scandal involving Ukrainian gas giant Burisma," One America News reported. "A report from Gateway Pundit shows Schiff has received numerous donations from both Blackrock and Franklin Templeton Investments. Both of which are now part of a criminal investigation for laundering money through Burisma."

One America News seems to have confused donations with investment earnings. Campaign finance records show neither of the two investment companies mentioned — Blackrock and Franklin Templeton — made any campaign donations to Schiff. 

On his 2017 financial disclosure form, Schiff showed dividends, capital gains and interest earned on seven funds managed by the Blackrock and Franklin Templeton firms, out of a total of 38 investments. 

So, there’s a "connection," but not the sort that the One America News report described.

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Note that by 2017, Schiff had sold his Blackrock holdings. As for Franklin Templeton, the firm offers a wide variety of funds, and more Republicans (22) held Franklin Templeton funds than did Democrats (18).

The claim about an underlying "criminal investigation for laundering money" comes from an article on the Ukrainian news website Interfax Ukraine. At a news conference, two members of parliament called for an investigation into the alleged diversion of $7.4 billion by deposed former president Viktor Yanukovych. They said, according to "investigative journalists," Ukraine’s prosecutor general has "suspicions" of money laundering. 

The Ukrainian lawmakers mentioned Burisma and the two fund management firms, but offered no clear connection between Burisma and the other two companies.

The pair cited no official materials from the Prosecutor General’s office. They said nothing about Schiff. 

Many conservative websites have been carrying this story, and, from what we see, the connection to Schiff stems solely from his holdings managed by the two fund management firms. 

Our ruling

One America News said that Schiff is "under investigation for Ukrainian Bursima oil connections."

The notion that Schiff has "connections" to Burisma oil stems from a news conference held by two Ukrainian lawmakers, who actually never mentioned Schiff or presented official documents. The lawmakers called for an investigation; they did not announce one.

The news report confused earnings on mutual fund investments with campaign donations. The firms cited gave no money to Schiff.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

 

Our Sources

One America News, Adam Schiff Under Investigation for Ukrainian Burisma Oil Connections, Nov. 30, 2019

Center for Responsive Politics, Franklin Resources, accessed Dec. 5, 2019

Center for Responsive Politics,Blackrock, accessed Dec. 5, 2019

Gateway Pundit, REVEALED: Adam Schiff Connected to Both Companies Named in $7.4 Billion Burisma-US-Ukraine Corruption Case, Nov. 21, 2019

M3thods, tweet, Nov. 21, 2019

Interfax Ukraine, MPs demand Zelensky, Trump investigate suspicion of U.S.-Ukraine corruption involving $7.4 bln, Nov. 20, 2019

Adam Schiff, Financial disclosure, May 15, 2017

PRNewswire, One America News to Debut Special Featuring exclusive Interviews with Three former Ukrainian Officials and Rudy Giuliani, Debunking Schiff's Impeachment Narrative, Dec. 3, 2019

Washington Post, Ukraine lawmaker seeking Biden probe meets with Giuliani in Kyiv, Dec. 5, 2019

Aeroscraft, About, accessed Dec. 5, 2019

USASpending, AEROS AERONAUTICAL SYSTEMS, accessed Dec. 6, 2019

Open Secrets, Personal finances, accessed Dec. 6, 2019

Worldwide Aeros Aims to Turn Blimps Into Cargo Craft". Bloomberg Businessweek. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2014.

L.A. Times, Small Company Aims to Soar Above Lockheed to Win Blimp Contract, Jan. 17, 2006

L.A. Times, Airship dedication reminds Worldwide Aeros chief of deferred dream, Oct. 17, 2014

Small Business Administration, Worldwide Aeros Corp., accessed Dec. 5, 2019

Washington Post, An inside look at One America News, the insurgent TV network taking ‘pro-Trump’ to new heights, July 5, 2017

Interview, Igor Pasternak, CEO, Worldwide Aeros, Dec. 5, 2019

 

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