Lawyer mentioned in Russian probe also had ties to Blackburn

A Nashville lawyer with ties to a Russian banker mentioned in national media reports on probes into that country’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election also has ties to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, reports The Tennessean.

Kline Preston IV, a graduate of the Nashville School of Law, has authored books about Russian regulations, and has represented clients in Russia, Ukraine, Canada, Cuba and England.

Among Preston’s Russian clients and longtime friends is Alexander Torshin, a prominent Russian politician who has close ties to President Vladimir Putin. Torshin is under scrutiny for illegally channeling Russian funds to the National Rifle Association in an effort to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Preston first introduced Torshin to then-president of the NRA David Keene in 2011 and the pair attended the NRA’s annual convention in Nashville in 2015.

Among Preston’s U.S. clients: Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and her son-in-law, Paul Ketchel, a Nashville healthcare entrepreneur.

In 2005, Preston represented Blackburn when she was facing allegations of possible campaign finance violations. He also provided legal services to her campaign in 2007, according to federal filings.

Preston’s wife, Tiffany, worked for the Blackburn campaign, earning $25,100 between 2004 and 2006 for administrative work, according records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

A spokeswoman for Blackburn, a Brentwood Republican, declined to answer specific questions about Preston’s work for the campaign or his relationship with her or her family members, instead issuing a statement that said:

“Congressman Blackburn believes Russia is not our friend – and thinks we need to treat Russia like any bully: we need to be strong enough to prevent them from pushing the United States and our allies around, and we need to draw firm lines and show them that America is not to be trifled with.”

In a telephone interview from Moscow, where Preston served as an independent observer of their national elections on Sunday, Preston told the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee his relationship with Blackburn was “close.”

“We’re family friends,” he said Friday. “Long time. My spouse is friends with the Congresswoman and her daughter.”

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