With two weeks left before the November 7th election, speculation abounds about the shape of politics in Washington D.C. for the next two years. Many political commentators are expressing the view that America is about to return to the days of divided government – with a Republican in the White House and Democrats holding at least one, if not two, chambers of Congress. From all indications, America, it seems, is very evenly divided.
But for officials of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – the most visible group claiming to represent Muslims in America – their political loyalties appear to lean in one particular political direction. An extensive review of political contributions by CAIR officials, employees and board members on the local, state and national level reveals that CAIR is betting almost exclusively on Democrats to represent them politically on Capitol Hill during the upcoming 110th Congress.
To conduct this study, I gathered the names of all CAIR employees and board members that could be identified from the national organization and the CAIR local and state chapters. This information was compiled from publicly available sources – CAIR websites and the most recently filed IRS Form 990s for the organizations at GuideStar.org. The names of the CAIR officials that could be identified were compared to current Federal Election Commission (FEC) individual donor information (this database only covers federal races) available at OpenSecrets.org. (Three caveats should be made about this data: first, not all CAIR affiliates identify their employees, officers and board members on their websites or 990s, so giving by some CAIR officials could not be examined; secondly, the most recent 990 publicly available for some CAIR affiliates is 2004, so some employee and board member positions might have changed since that time; and thirdly, some campaigns file their disclosures on a quarterly basis, so recent contributions may not have yet appeared in the FEC database.)
The political contributions by the CAIR officials that could be identified so overwhelmingly favor the Democratic Party that I was only able to find three donations in the two-year 2006 political cycle that went to Republicans: a $300 donation by CAIR-New York President Nasir Gondal to moderate Republican Rob Simmons (CT-2), and two donations by CAIR-Houston President Tarek Hussein, who gave $1,000 to the Republican National Congressional Committee late last year, and another $1,000 to the primary campaign of Muslim candidate Ameer Omar, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in TX-30 (more on Mr. Hussein’s contributions later).
One CAIR official betting on a Democratic win next month is CAIR-Ohio President Asma Mobin-Uddin, who gave $250 to Democratic challenger Mary Jo Kilroy, who is currently in a tight race against Deborah Pryce – the moderate GOP incumbent and the fourth-highest ranked Republican in the House. This congressional district (OH-15) has been targeted by the Democratic Party as one of the seats that they can pick up from Republicans in this election, and the DNC is pouring money into this race to turn this seat blue. One might believe that the abortion issue would be a determining factor for Dr. Mobin-Uddin, a licensed pediatrician, as Pryce repeatedly affirms a constitutional right to abortion; but comparing the public positions of both candidates on the issue, Kilroy is even more pro-abortion than Pryce. As the leader of a prominent Muslim organization, Mobin-Uddin’s support for Kilroy very curious.
CAIR-California President Rashid Ahmad is another CAIR state chapter leader also betting on the Democrats this election cycle, giving $500 to Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-5), in her reelection bid – his only campaign contribution documented thus far.
The disproportionate spending by CAIR officials isn’t limited to the state chapters. In fact, board members of the national CAIR organization are apparently the most active political givers in the country – with all of their money going exclusively to Democrats.
Take, for instance, CAIR Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Omar Ahmed. In May of this year, Ahmed went on a political giving spree, making $250 donations to five different Democratic congressional candidates, though none of the recipients are running in his home state of California. Four of the races Ahmed has given to are for seats currently being held by the GOP and have been identified by the Democratic Party as districts that they hope to change hands in this election. One of those seats is open, currently held by retiring Rep. Henry Hyde (IL-6), where Ahmed is backing Democrat Tammy Duckworth – a disabled Iraqi War veteran who opposes the Bush Administration’s policies in Iraq. In another race, Ahmed is backing Democrat Patricia Madrid against Rep. Heather Wilson (NM-1) – the only female veteran currently serving in Congress (House and Senate). The other two Republicans targeted by Ahmed’s political contributions are Rep. Clay Shaw (FL-22) and Rep. Charles Taylor (NC-11). He also gave money to Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean (IL-8).
Those who have closely watched the news regarding CAIR in recent years might be familiar with Omar Ahmed. He was CAIR’s founding Board Chairman, a position he held until May 2005. He is also the former president of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) – the parent organization of CAIR that closed down after a federal court found them liable as a front for the terrorist organization, HAMAS, in the death of an American teenager killed in a HAMAS attack (see Joe Kaufman’s article “Death of a Terror Lobby”). According to testimony by counterterrorism expert Steve Emerson, author of American Jihad, before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism in February 1998, “IAP has issued Hamas communiques calling for the killing of Jews, produced training videos for Hamas operatives, and actually recruited for Hamas in the United States.”
Ahmed has also drawn fire for comments he made in 1998 explaining CAIR’s role in the future domination of Islam in America, recorded at the time by the San Ramon Valley Herald (July 4, 1998):
Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant, he said. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.
One of Ahmed’s former IAP colleagues, CAIR Co-founder, board member and Executive Director, Nihad Awad, is also enthusiastically giving to Democrats this cycle. Awad served as IAP’s Director of Public Relations, and his name regularly appears in Steve Emerson’s 1998 Senate testimony on the IAP, HAMAS and CAIR connection. He currently runs CAIR’s day-to-day operations.
One curiosity about Awad’s political contributions is that after he infamously gave $500 to Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney on September 11, 2001, he began using another name – Nehad Hammad – for his subsequent political giving. As Debbie Schlussel has previously noted, Awad had used the name “Nehad A. Hammad” in CAIR documents filed with the IRS in the early 1990s, and has taken up that same name for all of his political giving since his 9/11 donation.
In the current 2006 election, Awad has put all of his money – $2,000 – into the candidacy of Keith Ellison, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) nominee for the MN-5 Congressional District. The district has been drawn overwhelmingly Democratic, and Ellison is a shoe-in to win the election, which will make him the first-ever elected Muslim official in the federal government. As Scott Johnson explained two weeks ago in the Weekly Standard (“Louis Farrakhan’s First Congressman”), Ellison has been criticized for failing to pay $25,000 in income taxes, his long-time association with the Nation of Islam, and habitually defending anti-Semitic remarks made by his associates.
But that hasn’t stopped CAIR from throwing its considerable weight behind Ellison’s bid to become the first elected Muslim federal officeholder. As Joel Mowbray pointed out in the Washington Times last month, Awad has not only given his own money towards Ellison’s campaign, but he headlined a campaign fundraiser in August for Ellison, which netted him $15,000-$20,000, and is responsible for bundling at least $10,000 more in contributions for the candidate (Robert Spencer has also covered the Ellison-Awad connection, “Keith Ellison, CAIR and HAMAS”).
And just last week, Joe Kaufman reported that Ellison was speaking at a closed-door event for CAIR-Florida with Jim Davis, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Florida, and that other CAIR officials, including CAIR National Governmental Affairs Director Corey Saylor and CAIR National Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed – a professor of Finance at the University of North Florida – have also contributed $1,000 and $500, respectively, to Ellison’s campaign.
But after Kaufman publicly revealed the hush-hush Ellison-CAIR event, Nihad Awad and Parvez Ahmed came out swinging in an editorial published by the Star Tribune accusing “right-wing bloggers, agenda-driven commentators and political operatives” of using the event to engage in “scurrilous smear tactics in an attempt to derail his campaign and to marginalize American Muslim voters." Of course, there's nothing "scurrilous" about it. Their political donations to Ellison can be obtained by anyone in the world with an Internet connection searching the FEC online database.
Keith Ellison has not been the chief beneficiary of CAIR’s giving, however. One name that continually appears in the political contributions of CAIR officials in the 2002, 2004 and 2006 election cycles is none other than Rep. Cynthia McKinney – perhaps the most rabidly anti-war member of Congress and who has accused President Bush of being secretly behind the 9/11 attacks. As Daniel Pipes noted in 2004, McKinney has been the recipient of political contributions from a Who’s Who of radical Islamic organizations in America.
McKinney has had a long and profitable history with CAIR. When she faced a tough challenger in the Democratic primary in 2002 (a primary race she would eventually lose, costing her congressional seat), CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad/Nehad Hammad gave not only his controversial $500 September 11, 2001 donation to her campaign, but a last-minute $1,000 in the closing days of her losing primary campaign, in addition to the $1,000 he gave to Democrat Rep. Jim Moran (VA-8) in the 2002 cycle. CAIR-Philadelphia Chairman Iftekhar Hussain also came through with $3,000 for McKinney that year, joined by fellow board member Mahmood Siddique, who gave $800 bundled with Hussain’s contribution. CAIR-Chicago board member Muhammad Kudaimi also attempted to come to McKinney’s rescue in 2002 with a late pre-primary $1,000 contribution, as well as another $1,000 from his wife, Randa Loutfi, but all to no avail.
And in McKinney’s unsuccessful bid to keep her congressional seat in this current 2006 election cycle, she received $500 from CAIR-Houston President Tarek Hussein, the same man responsible for only two of three contributions to Republicans by CAIR officials on all levels that I could find.
This giving to McKinney exposes a trend in data on giving by CAIR officials in the 2002, 2004, and 2006 elections – giving that appears to be driven more by anti-war and pro-radical Islamic ideology than political calculation. But perhaps for these CAIR officials, they are perceived to be one in the same, as they give to some of the most extreme elements on the American political spectrum.
For instance, between 2002 and 2004, Tarek Hussein gave four separate donations to conspiracy theorist and notorious anti-Semite, Lyndon LaRouche. And in the 2004 Presidential Election, there were no recorded donations by CAIR officials to Democratic Party nominee John Kerry, but two for Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader (by CAIR Co-founders Omar Ahmed and Nihad Awad/Nehad Hammad), and another for Moonbat Democratic candidate, Dennis Kucinich, by CAIR-Southern California Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. If these candidates are representative of the ideology that CAIR identifies with, they is not only out of the American mainstream, but even the mainstream of the Democratic Party itself.
But that notwithstanding, at present CAIR officials are content to liberally spread their campaign contributions to Democrats, apparently on the gamble that they will take one, if not both, chambers of Congress. Cynthia McKinney will be gone, of course, but Keith Ellison is certain to be there to carry the congressional water for radical Islam. With Democrats in control, CAIR is betting that they will be better represented on Capitol Hill in their self-proclaimed goal of eventual Islamic domination for America. Maybe that is something that citizens should keep in mind on November 7th as they go to the polls and vote.
(Just for the record, I have not contributed to any candidate, political party or PAC in the 2002, 2004 or 2006 cycles.)
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