Thursday, March 31, 2016

WATCH: "Thank God For the Saudis and Prince Bandar", McCain Said Just Before Saudis Donated $1M To His Foundation

Arizona Senator John McCain has a foundation to raise funds for the McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU, and it accepted a $1,000,000 contribution from the Saudi Arabian government shortly after the Senator repeatedly praised the Saudi government in the media.

Bloomberg News broke the story today about the major 2014 gift to MIIL.  Although it was disclosed by the McCain Institute Foundation to the IRS in mid-2015* (publicly-available several weeks thereafter), the McCain Institute did not add the somewhat-controversial donor to its website until the Bloomberg reporter inquired.

On January 12, 2014, McCain appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" program, and praised the Saudis: "Thank god for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, we're starting to see a little bit of reversal there (Syria), thank god."

(transcript at link in previous paragraph)

The Saudis and McCain had begun lobbying each other regarding Syria in September 2012 (or, earlier), when McCain and fellow Senator Lindsey Graham (R- SC) met with Prince Bandar "in an opulent hotel suite on the banks of the Bosporus". (That Wall Street Journal article provides a valuable primer on the last few years of the U.S./Saudi/others relationships regarding Syria.)

McCain also publicly thanked God for the Saudis and Bandar at the Munich Security Conference in February 2014.

The million-dollar gift to McCain's Foundation - which in turn provides support to the McCain Institute through the ASU Foundation - came at some point during that year of thanking God. McCain has continued to praise the Saudis, although he has also pushed them at least once on the subject of religious persecution ("The United States should be first among all nations to denounce religious persecution in all its forms and locations, even when it takes place in nations with whom we have important and complicated relations, such as, China and Saudi Arabia, for example.")

Most of the many corporate contributions have apparently been made either directly to the Institute or to the ASU Foundation, according to Arizona's Politics' review of the McCain Foundation's IRS filings. (The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit which does not pay taxes, but must file an annual report.)

The Foundation was started with $8.7M left over from McCain's 2008 run for the Presidency. Approximately 3/4 of the campaign's money came from federal matching funds.  The only other sizable contributions reported are the $1M from the Saudis, and $300,000 from the UK-based Eranda Foundation (Lynn Forester de Rothschild is also on the Institute's Board of Trustees).

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1 comment:

Harold R. Simpson said...

Gee, I wonder how come Anne Kirkpatrick isn't using the complete sentence where Mr. McCain praises the Saudis for being involved with the Syrian issue?