WASHINGTON (CNN) – John McCain’s campaign announced Thursday night that it’s returning about $50,000 in contributions believed to be brought in by a foreign citizen.
The actions late Thursday followed a move earlier in the day by the campaign that it would be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations brought in by Florida businessman Harry Sargeant, after reports that his business partner – Mustafa Abu Naba’a, who is not an American citizen – may have been connected with the fundraising efforts.
Federal campaign finance regulations prohibit donations from foreign nationals, but federal laws do not specify if it is illegal for them to solicit political contributions.
The McCain campaign says Abu Naba’a did not donate the money himself. But McCain spokesman Brian Rogers says, "we're taking the precautionary measure of returning any contributions solicited by Mr. Abu Naba'a. We thought it was an appropriate measure to take at this point, as we had an issue with the reports of people giving to the campaign who had no intention of supporting or voting for John McCain - that was clear from recent reports. We estimate that it totals under $50,000."
The New York Times reported on Thursday that Sargeant allowed Abu Naba’a to solicit the donations in March from a single extended family in California, the Abdullahs, along with their friends.
The McCain campaign is also sending a copy of the legal requirements for donations to all contributors whose funds were brought in through Sargeant.
Earlier this year, during the primary season, Norman Hsu, who was a top fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, was indicted for making contributions in the names of other people.