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Oklahoma elections: Russian fund boosts Calvey campaign

Congressional candidate Kevin Calvey's campaign has collected more than $270,000 tied to international business interests, particularly in Russia.
By John Estus and Chris Casteel Published: August 8, 2010
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Copyright 2010, The Oklahoman

Kevin Calvey has helped finance his congressional campaign with more than $250,000 in investment gains and donations tied to his brother, a wealthy international investor.

Calvey made nearly $270,000 in 2008 selling an interest he acquired for free in a Russian private equity fund, according to interviews and Calvey's 2008 personal tax return, which he provided to reporters. He put most of the after-tax proceeds into his campaign, which he has loaned $250,100.

His brother, Michael Calvey, and his friends and business associates have provided nearly $30,000 more in campaign donations.

In interviews and e-mail exchanges, Kevin Calvey's story changed several times during questioning about his campaign funding. He initially said he couldn't remember whether he paid for his stake in the equity fund, and his initial response to why he sold his interest conflicted with his brother's recollection of the transaction.

Kevin Calvey, whose pregnant wife is due any day, said he was exhausted from an overnight trip to the hospital last week and from his campaign duties.

The private equity fund was with Baring Vostok Capital Partners, a Moscow-based investment firm co-founded and run by Michael Calvey.

Among Baring Vostok's advisers is the last director of the Soviet KGB spy agency, a former Russian cosmonaut and a former U.S. astronaut. It is one of Russia's most successful private equity firms.

Most of the $250,100 Kevin Calvey has loaned his campaign came from the money he made from Baring Vostok, he confirmed last week.

"I'm very blessed to have assistance from him," Kevin Calvey, 44, said of his brother, who has personally donated $4,800 to his campaign. "My brother is an absolute genius."

His success in Russia has helped Michael Calvey solicit donations for his brother from Americans he works with there and elsewhere, including some who have led businesses he helped form, according to campaign finance reports and interviews.

Kevin Calvey, a Republican, is an Oklahoma City attorney, former state representative and Iraq war veteran.

"The country needs to have more honest people like him in Congress," Michael Calvey, 42, said. "Even if he wasn't my brother, I would be contributing to his campaign."

Kevin Calvey is facing former youth camp director James Lankford in the Aug. 24 runoff in the 5th Congressional District race.

Fund payout details differ

Initially, neither brother would say specifically how much Kevin Calvey made from selling his interest in the Baring Vostok fund in 2008.

Kevin Calvey provided personal tax returns Friday afternoon that showed he made $269,822 in capital gains in 2008.

Kevin Calvey initially couldn't remember whether he had paid for his stake in the fund or had it given to him.

"I think I did buy them," Kevin Calvey said at first. "It was a very successful fund, that I do know."

Kevin Calvey said a day later he had bought the shares for "a nominal fee."

Michael Calvey said at first his brother bought his stake in the fund for the same rate as other investors. But he later said his brother and 30 other investors didn't pay for their stakes in the fund and were instead given limited partnerships in a subsidiary of the fund through a complex equity instrument called a carried interest partnership, which only pays investors if the fund is successful.

"If the fund had not exceeded expectations, I would have realized no gain," Kevin Calvey wrote in an e-mail Friday. "But the fund did exceed expectations, so I did realize a substantial gain."

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Campaign donors at a glance

Michael Calvey confirmed he contacted the following Kevin Calvey campaign donors on his brother's behalf:

• Peter Gerwe, founder of a Russian media company Baring Vostok that Michael Calvey once controlled; he has given $1,000. He said of Kevin Calvey: "I looked at his statement, looked at what he stands for, talked to some of his people and put a small amount in."

• John Fitzgibbons, founder of two Russian oil and gas corporations; he has given $2,400 and his wife, Christine, has given $2,400. They did not return a message left on their home answering machine.

• Charles Ryan, chairman of a Russian asset management firm which owns shares in two Internet companies also owned by Baring Vostok's funds; he and his wife, Caren Sue Lambert, have each given $4,800. Reached by phone last week in Massachusetts, Lambert declined to discuss the donations. "You don't really need to know the connection," she said. "You just need to know that I support Kevin Calvey." Lambert has taught American literature at the Russian-American Christian University in Moscow.

• Bernard Sucher, former country head in Russia for Bank of America Merrill Lynch; he gave $2,400. Reached by phone this week in Michigan, Sucher's father said he'd give a reporter's message to his son, who was traveling in Russia. Sucher hasn't returned the message.

• Ronald Freeman, a director of Volga Gas, a Baring Vostok-controlled oil and gas company; he gave $2,400. A message left with a London-based spokesman for his employer, Doughty Hanson & Company, was not returned last week.

• Arthur Duffy and David Mixer, who work at Rex Capital Advisors, which Duffy's aide said counts Charles Ryan as a client; Duffy gave $2,000 and Mixer gave $2,400. Neither returned messages left for them.

John Estus and Chris Casteel, Staff Writers

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