Sounding More Like a Spy Novel Every Day

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The story of Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) conveniently timed contributions from the oil industry gets another rather odd chapter today, courtesy of this story in the Washington Post which details why the McCain campaign was forced to return $50,000 in contributions bundled by oil executive Harry Sergeant III.

The donors whose checks Sergeant bundled seemed like decidedly non-traditional donors:


Harry Sargeant III submitted a bundle of checks for $2,300 and $4,600 on a single day in March, all of them from donors in Southern California who had never given before this year's campaign and did not appear to be likely candidates to contribute as much as $18,400 per household.

Although the contributions were credited to Sargeant, whose company has Defense Department contracts worth as much as $1.4 billion, the checks came from Americans of seemingly modest means.

Among the donors were a manager of a fast food restaurant, and an auto mechanic. Oh, and then there's this:


Sargeant said in an interview yesterday that at times he left the task of collecting the checks to a longtime business partner, Mustafa Abu Naba'a, who is not an American citizen. According to court records, Abu Naba'a is a dual citizen of Jordan and the Dominican Republic.

Money raised by Abu Naba'a is being returned. Sargeant raised at least an additional $460,000 for McCain, some of which was gathered on his behalf by a former high-ranking CIA anti-terrorism expert who is now Sargeant's business partner. Sargeant did not name any of the other associates who may have helped him with fundraising.



And people say campaign finance is boring...

According to the Post, Abu Naba'a holds a third of the shares to Sargeant's company, which supplies oil to US military forces in Iraq. While a foreign national cannot donate to a US candidate, there's no hard and fast rule about whether they can collect those contributions. However as we saw with George W. Bush's campaign, bundlers are given credit and recognition for collecting contributions (and many wound up with high-ranking government jobs, ambassadorships etc.) -- is that so different than making a donation yourself?