Qaddafi on his way out, Bashar al Assad is next.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 21, 2011
Former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, who in 2002 chaired the congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, maintains the FBI is covering up a Saudi support cell in Sarasota for the hijackers. He says the al-Hijjis’ “urgent” pre-9/11 exit suggests “someone may have tipped them off” about the coming attacks.
Graham has been working with a 14-member group in Congress to urge President Obama to declassify 28 pages of the final report of his inquiry which were originally redacted, wholesale, by President George W. Bush.
“The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” he said, adding, “I am speaking of the kingdom,” or government, of Saudi Arabia, not just wealthy individual Saudi donors.
Sources who have read the censored Saudi section say it cites CIA and FBI case files that directly implicate officials of the Saudi Embassy in Washington and its consulate in Los Angeles in the attacks — which, if true, would make 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war by a foreign government.
For just and obvious reasons, it’s illegal under U.S. law for foreign governments to finance individual candidates or political parties. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop them from bribing politicians and bureaucrats using other opaque channels.
A perfect example is the shady, influence peddling slush fund known as The Clinton Foundation, which entered the public consciousness last year and was the central topic of multiple posts here at Liberty Blitzkrieg. Although they remain the reining champions of cronyism, being a shameless, corrupt fraud isn’t limited to the Clintons. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a John McCain linked nonprofit has been found accepting million dollar contributions from the most barbaric, backwards nation on planet earth: Saudi Arabia. Naturally, the absolute monarchy remains a very close ally of the U.S. government.
A nonprofit with ties to Senator John McCain received a $1 million donation from the government of Saudi Arabia in 2014, according to documents filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
The Arizona Republican has strictly honorary roles with the McCain Institute for International Leadership, a program at Arizona State University, and its fundraising arm, the McCain Institute Foundation, according to his office. But McCain has appeared at fundraising events for the institute and his Senate campaign’s fundraiser is listed in its tax returns as the contact person for the foundation.
Forget John McCain for a moment. How appropriate is it for so-called “institutions of higher learning” to be accepting million dollars contributions from an absolute monarchy where women can’t drive and with obvious ties to 9/11?
Though federal law strictly bans foreign contributions to electoral campaigns, the restriction doesn’t apply to nonprofits engaged in policy, even those connected to a sitting lawmaker.
This law/loophole obviously needs to be changed.
Groups critical of the current ethics laws say that McCain’s nonprofit effectively gives Saudi Arabia — or any other well-heeled interests — a means of making large donations to politicians it hopes to influence.
“Foreign governments are prohibited from financing candidate campaigns and political parties,” Craig Holman, the government affairs lobbyist for ethics watchdog Public Citizen, said. “Funding the lawmakers’ nonprofit organizations is the next best thing.”
The Saudi donation to the McCain Institute Foundation may be the first congressional instance of that trend coming to light.
“The extent of this practice is difficult to gauge, of course,” Holman said, “because we only know about it when a nonprofit or foreign government voluntarily reveals that information.”
While it’s commendable that the McCain Institute Foundation came clean in this instance, the law should definitely be changed to make disclosure a requirement. The last thing this country needs are additional channels for special interests to bribe politicians.
The institute didn’t originally disclose the 2014 donation from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. After an inquiry from Bloomberg News, the website was updated to note that the institute received more than $100,000 from the Saudi embassy. Documents filed with the IRS state that the donation totaled $1 million.
Since its launch in 2012, the institute has been “guided by the values that have animated the career” of McCain and his family, its mission statement says. It focuses on advancing “character-driven global leadership,” and runs an internship program, a debate series and hosts events on national security, human trafficking and other issues.
“Guided by the values that have animated the career of McCain and his family?” Let’s take a look at a few of these “values.”
The institute’s executive director is Kurt Volker, a former ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization who also serves as a senior international adviser to lobbying firm BGR Group. BGR Group’s clients include Chevron, Raytheon Co. and the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Saudi Royal Court. Its nonprofit arm, the BGR Foundation, also donated at least $100,000 to the institute, according to its website.
It’s starting to make sense now isn’t it.
“It’s only natural that a longtime and vocal supporter of the Saudi-U.S. alliance might be embraced by them this way,” said David Andrew Weinberg, a senior fellow with the conservative think tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Weinberg estimates that Persian Gulf countries alone have contributed more than $100 million to presidential libraries and charities promoted by former presidents.
Nothing to see here. Move along peasants.
But such contributions usually don’t have to be disclosed, so it’s unclear how much money from the Saudi embassy or other foreign sources has gone to groups with ties to current and former U.S. officials or lawmakers.
But the foundation did receive its initial funding — about $8.6 million — from money left over from McCain’s 2008 presidential run, in a transaction permitted under campaign finance laws.
McCain has appeared at events for the institute, including its fundraising efforts and its annual, invitation-only conference held in Sedona, Arizona. The annual conference has also featured Vice President Joe Biden and a 2014 appearance by Clinton before she was officially a presidential candidate. CEOs from GE, Chevron, Wal-Mart, Freeport and FedEx — all of whose companies or charitable arms have contributed more than $100,000 to support the institute — have also spoken.
Some of the institute’s larger donors, including hedge fund manager Paul Singer and investor Ron Perelman, also contributed $100,000 to Arizona Grassroots Action PAC, a super-PAC that’s supporting McCain as he seeks his sixth term in the Senate.
Paul Singer, John McCain and the Saudis. Sure makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.