Clarke and Maria Butina, who was indicted by the U.S. Justice Department this week for trying to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and other political groups, were pictured hanging out together during the lavish trip in 2015. Clarke, a staunch conservative and outspoken critic of Black Lives Matter, was a delegate for the NRA at the time.
The ex-sheriff’s financial disclosure form shows Butina’s group, The Right to Bear Arms, covered $6,000 of Clarke’s meal, hotel, and transportation expenses. The organization shelled out an average of $200 a day for the sheriff’s meals, $3,000 for his hotels, and another $1,000 for his transportation around Russia. It also paid $800 for a so-called “excursion,” documents showed.
The rest of Clarke’s trip, which totaled roughly $40,000 and included a stop in Israel, was covered by the NRA.
A video from his overseas voyage shows Butina seated behind Clarke during the NRA delegation’s tour of Russian firearms company Orsis. In the footage, posted by Orsis deputy chief executive Stanislav Novoselov, the then–sheriff is complimented on his shooting skills while test-firing a weapon.
A photo from the trip also shows Clarke and Butina posing for a group photo with members of the Right to Bear Arms group. A sign behind them reads, “Welcome to Russia comrades.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre were also pictured with Butina.
Butina has since been charged with being a covert Russian agent whose sole purpose was to “identify and exploit personal connections with U.S. persons having influence in American politics.”
Clarke hasn’t yet commented on the matter.