John McCain should give back the million dollars his McCain Institute received from the government of Saudi Arabia

John McCain should give back the million dollars his McCain Institute received from the government of Saudi Arabia

The government of Saudi Arabia gave a one million dollar donation to the McCain Institute for International Leadership, founded in 2012 with $9 million leftover from the Arizona senator’s failed campaign as the 2008 Republican nominee for president. Sen. McCain has been asked about the $1 million donation from the Saudi Arabian government, and he has refused to answer those questions.

“The institute carries John McCain’s name, it advertises itself as pursuing the policy objectives of John McCain, John McCain will do fundraising events, John McCain will do speeches at the institute,” Craig Holman, an expert on government ethics with Public Citizen in Washington, D.C., told 12 News in Arizona, “He may not have any kind of direct control over the institute, but it’s something that he is connected to at the hip.”

Sen. McCain tried to distance himself from the McCain Institute, which he clearly supports, conducts fund-raising for it, and it is run by staff who have been long time McCain associates. While foreign governments are legally prohibited from making donations to U.S. politicians like McCain, they are able to donate to foundations set up by those politicians, like the McCain Institute or the Clinton Foundation.

We can only expect that the the government of Saudi Arabia intends to buy some influence with that million dollars, and we can legitimately ask what they are buying influence over. But Sen. McCain refused to answer any questions about this million dollar donation. And we have every reason to look at the connections the Saudi Arabia government has with the September 11 hijackers, and raise the question of whether or not McCain should call on his McCain Institute to return this tainted money.

The Saudi Arabian government’s ties to the hijackers of 9/11 have been well documented, even The Washington Post raised the question about whether this issue has become a political problem for President Barack Obama before his visit to Saudi Arabia. Of the 19 hijackers, 15 of them were from Saudi Arabia. They were with al-Qaeda, which itself was founded by Osama bin Laden, connected himself to a wealthy Saudi Arabia family.

The 9/11 Commission investigated these connections and is believed widely to have found solid evidence for them, allegedly contained in the 28 pages of the 838 page report that has been classified and available to few, including members of Congress. Former Florida Senator Bob Graham, who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, contends those 28 pages contain evidence of the Saudi Arabian connections to the hijackers, and has been calling for the declassification of those 28 pages.

Some information has leaked from the redacted section, including a flurry of pre-9/11 phone calls between one of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego and the Saudi Embassy, and the transfer of some $130,000 from then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar’s family checking account to yet another of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego,” the New York Post reported a few days ago.

McCain not only needs to answer questions about his foundation taking this clearly tainted money, but he needs to take responsibility for the mistake of accepting it, and he needs to send it back. Sen. McCain is running for reelection, and just the appearance of corruption and impropriety in the form of taking money from a likely state-sponsor of 9/11 terrorism should be enough for him to see he needs to give the money back.

It is time for Sen. McCain to make this right and give the money back, the million dollars his McCain Institute took from the Saudi Arabian government. If the senator wants to show the voters of Arizona that he’s not bought and paid for, he absolutely needs to give the money back.