The Islamist Money in Politics project has identified 11 candidates — two Republicans and nine Democrats — who received campaign donations this year from Islamists.
The project concludes that prominent Islamists have given at least $700,000 to federal candidates over the past 15 years, including $85,451 to presidential campaigns.
The figures are probably only a shadow of the true numbers, as the first-of-its-kind project does not yet include state-level campaigns like governorships. It also does not include every Islamist or Islamist organization that has donated.
The compiled data is based on campaign contributions by senior officials with five groups. The five groups included in the database all have Islamist origins and are:
3. Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), led by the radical preacher Siraj Wahhaj and included an anti-American militant named Luqman Ameen Abdullah who was killed in a shootout with the FBI.
The Republican candidate with the most Islamist financial support is Rep. Terri Lynn Land, who is running for a Senate seat in Michigan. She was given $2,576 from donors linked to CAIR and MPAC.
RealClearPolitics has Land behind Rep. Gary Peters by an average of 12% in the polls. However, Rep. Peters has also received $11,000 since 2008, with $1,000 coming in 2014 from a CAIR-tied source.
The second Republican is Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, who received $250 from a CAIR-linked donor. He is in a tight race with Independent Greg Orman, who is leading in the polls by only 0.7% on average.
The Democrat with the most Islamist backing is Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota (himself a practicing Muslim), who received $130,692 from sources linked to CAIR, MAS, MANA and ISNA. He is considered a lock for re-election.
Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana has received $33,911 since 2008, with $6,750 being donated this election cycle. He is considered a lock for re-election.
Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia has received $5,450 since 2008, with $2,000 coming in 2014. He is considered a lock for re-election. Connolly’s opponent has released ads criticizing his support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
One ad has audio of Connolly opposing the overthrow of the Brotherhood in Egypt, describing locals concerned about the Islamic Saudi Academy as “bigots,” and arguing for U.S. financial aid to a Palestinian unity government that includes the Hamas terrorist group.
Democratic nominee Bobbie McKenzie of Michigan has received $2,500 this year. The last poll recorded by RealClearPolitics has him behind his opponent by 12%.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has gotten $1,450 since 2012, with $400 arriving this cycle. She is considered a lock for re-election.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland received $1,000 this year through the Van Hollen Victory Fund. He was earlier given $250 in 2012. He is considered a lock for re-election.
Rep. Mike Honda of California has received $750 since 2012, including a $500 donation this year. The latest poll shows him locked in a tight race with Ro Khanna, leading only by 2%.
Mike Obermueller of Minnesota has received $600 since 2013, including a $250 donation this year. The most recent poll showed Obermueller behind by 22%.
Islamists also donated to four former candidates who lost their primaries:
- Alfonso Hoffman Lopez of Virginia, who received $500.
- Mayor Bill Euille of Virginia, who received $250.
- Valeria Ann Arkoosh of Pennsylvania who received $250.
- Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic of Iowa who received $1,000 this year.
One notable donor in the database is Esam Omeish, who has donated $17,610 to Democratic and Libertarian candidates since 2005. This cycle, he gave $1,000 to Rep. Gerry Connolly.
Omeish is a board member of CAIR-National and president of MAS from 2004 to 2008. In 2000, he was videotaped praising Palestinians who believe “the jihad way is the way to liberate your land.” In 2004, he praised the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, as “our beloved.”
In 2010, Omeish “liked” a Facebook page for Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, who is the radical spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and is linked to Hamas. Omeish has also defended the Brotherhood and said, “We [MAS] still view them as a good ally.”
Another notable donor is former ICNA President Mohammad Yunus, who has donated $3,800 to the National Republican Congressional Committee and Rep. Carson, with the latter receiving $2,500 this year.
The Islamists in the database have also donated to presidential campaigns over the past 15 years, amounting to over $85,000.
President Barack Obama was easily the most favored candidate for Islamists in the 2012 general election, 2008 general election and 2008 Democratic primary.
Islamists directly donated $14,600 to Obama from 2004 to 2012. In addition, the Obama Victory Fund received from Islamists $39,700 in 2008 and $9,250 in 2011-2012. The total he has received is $63,550.
President Obama received $9,250 from Islamists in the 2012 election cycle.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney was given $1,000 by a CAIR-linked source during the primary. Two of his rivals, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul, received $500 and $1,200 from CAIR sources, respectively.
Then-Senator Obama was given approximately $40,000 during the general election campaign.
During the Democratic primary, Obama received about $9,150 before winning the nomination on June 3, 2008, making him the candidate with the most Islamist financial backing.
The database shows both Senator Joe Biden and Senator Hillary Clinton receiving $2,000 during the primary from Islamists, although Biden received an additional $250 in 2002. However, Clinton reportedly received another $2,000 from three Islamist sources not included in the database.
During her Senate campaign in 2000, Clinton returned $50,000 in donations from Islamists. In addition, the Clinton Foundation has had organizational links to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and received millions from figures close to the governments Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iran.
Former Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee John Edwards received $1,750; Governor Bill Richardson received $1,000 and former Senator Mike Gravel received $250.
The most favored presidential candidate by Islamist donors was Independent candidate Ralph Nader, who received $4,400.
During the general election, Democratic nominee John Kerry received $1,500, while President Bush did not receive any donations from the Islamists included in the database.
The most favored candidate during the Democratic primary was Lyndon LaRouche Jr., who got $1,050. He was followed by Congressman Dennis Kucinich with $1,250; Senators Bob Graham and Joe Lieberman with $1,000 and Senator John Kerry with $250.
In the 2000 cycle, Republican nominee and eventual President George W. Bush was the favored candidate. The Clarion Project has chronicled the close relationship between American Islamists and the Bush campaign and administration.
The Bush campaign returned $1,000 from Abdurrahman Alamoudi, a secret U.S. Muslim Brotherhood member who was later convicted on terrorism-related charges. The Bush campaign received $3,000 from other Islamist sources in 1999-2000, including $1,000 from Nihad Awad, executive-director of CAIR.
By contrast, Vice President Al Gore received $1,000 from Larry Shaw, a CAIR board member.
As the Islamist Money in Politics project states, this is only the tip of the iceberg, but the main issue here isn’t necessarily dollar amounts. It’s influence.
A donation of a few hundred dollars won’t buy a candidate’s loyalty, but it may give an Islamist access to a candidate or a campaign’s inner circle of staff and advisors. The donation may indicate a current relationship to a candidate’s campaign or open the doors to a relationship that can influence policy.
When the FBI wiretapped a secret Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas meeting in Philadelphia in 1993 (which included two founders of CAIR), Hamas operative Abdel Haleem al-Ashqar was recorded explaining, “Forming the public opinion or coming up with a policy to influence …the way the Americans deal with the Islamists, for instance. I believe that should be the goals of this stage.”
The donations tracked by this project show the ongoing pursuit of this objective.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.