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Published: Friday, 8/8/2008

McCain campaign to return $50,000 raised by noncitizen


WASHINGTON - John McCain's campaign said yesterday it is returning $50,000 in contributions solicited by a foreign citizen.

The move follows the disclosure that the money was being raised by a Jordanian man who is a business partner of prominent Florida Republican Harry Sargeant III, who has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for the McCain presidential campaign.

The New York Times reported yesterday that Mr. Sargeant allowed a longtime business partner, Mustafa Abu Naba'a, to bring in some $50,000 in donations in March from members of a single extended family in California, the Abdullahs, along with several of their friends.

The Abdullahs and other Arab-Americans in California contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republicans Rudolph Giuliani and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a longtime friend of Mr. Sargeant.

According to the Times, Abu Naba'a is a dual citizen of Jordan and the Dominican Republic.

It is illegal for foreigners to contribute their own money to U.S. political campaigns.

Mr. McCain's campaign said Mr. Abu Naba'a did not do so.

But McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said some of the people solicited by Mr. Abu Naba'a had no intention of supporting Mr. McCain for president.

Mr. Rogers said "that just didn't sound right to us" so the money is being returned. He estimated the total at less than $50,000, saying "we think we have a pretty good estimate of how much Abu Naba'a solicited."

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