Last week, I wrote a post on the anti-Israel voting record of Tom Campbell, a Republican candidate for the California Senate seat currently held by Barbara Boxer. Some readers thought I was being unfair. But today I see, via Jennifer Rubin, that during his 2000 race for the Senate, Campbell received campaign contributions from Sami Al-Arian, the former University of South Florida professor who pled guilty to conspiring to help associates of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (As I noted below, Al-Arian has resurfaced in the news because Obama’s new envoy to the Muslim world is on record defending him prior to his guilty plea).
I double-checked the Federal Election Commission database, and was able to confirm that on May 2, 2000, Al-Arian made two donations totaling $1,300 to Campbell’s Senate campaign. At the time he made the contributions, as he admits in his plea agreement, Al-Arian was engaged in “Conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist…”
In defense of Campbell, one could argue that the donations were made prior to Al-Arian’s guilty plea. But with that said Al-Arian was already under investigation by the government in 2000 and his publicly radical views were known. Also, it’s kind of random for an Islamic radical in Florida to contribute to a Republican Senate campaign in California. The only other political donations listed from Al-Arian were made to Democrats: David Bonior, Jim Davis, and Cynthia McKinney — none of them fans of Israel, and in McKinney’s case, a 9/11 truther. So where does Campbell fit into this picture, and why would Al-Arian want to contribute to him?
Rubin, citing this article, notes:
Al-Arian and other Muslim figures were looking to do away with ”provisions of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which allowed federal authorities to use classified information as a basis on which to hold foreign terrorist suspects and to deny that information to the suspects’ defense attorneys. The thinking behind the law, congressional sources say, was to allow domestic law-enforcement services to use foreign intelligence as evidence on which to detain and deport the foreign suspects. Much of that intelligence could not be revealed to the defense because it would put the sources of that intelligence in physical danger.” (Campbell, in fact, testified in favor of his donor’s position at a congressional hearing.)
His involvement went further than that. Later in 2000, Campbell wrote a letter to an immigration judge on behalf of Mazen Al-Najjar, Al-Arian’s brother-in-law and collaborator, protesting the fact that the government was going to use classified evidence against him.
According to a Sept. 1, 2000 article in the St. Petersburg Times that I accessed via Nexis:
This week, two members of the U.S. House, one a Republican and one a Democrat, sent a letter to (Judge R. Kevin) McHugh asking him not to resort to secret evidence because high-ranking government officials have serious doubts.
“National Security Adviser (Sandy) Berger stated that he had seen the secret portions of the government’s investigation in this matter and had misgivings about it,” wrote Democratic Whip David Bonior of Michigan and U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Calif. The two have introduced legislation to ban the use of secret evidence as unconstitutional.
In his plea deal, Al-Arian admitted that he concealed his knowledge that Al-Najjar was an associate of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
UPDATE: Campbell responds here.