McCain challenger criticizes non-profit donation from Saudi embassy

Greg Nash

The Democrat challenging Sen. John McCain is hitting the Arizona Republican with a new ad that raises questions about a $1 million donation from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to the McCain Institue for International Leadership. 

“Thirty-three years in Washington have changed John McCain,” Kirkpatrick’s Instagram ad says. “After blasting foreign money as a likely source of political scandals, he now refuses to answer questions about the McCain Institute’s $1 million donation from Saudi Arabia. Arizonans deserve answers.”

{mosads}The Instagram ad to be released Friday was first obtained by The Hill.

Bloomberg reported on the $1 million donation to the McCain Institue. The $1 million donation to the McCain Institute for International Leadership was revealed in documents filed with the IRS. The non-profit confirms the donation on its website, but does not list the exact amount.

McCain says he has no official role with the non-profit group that was named after him, but he often appears at fundraising events for the organization, which was founded with money left over from his failed presidential campaign.

“Senator McCain was greatly honored that Arizona State University established an Institute for International Leadership named for him and his family, in recognition of their generations of service to the country in international affairs,” a spokeswoman for McCain told The Hill in an email.

“Senator McCain holds no position with the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University, or with its supporting organizations, and has no role in the governance or operation of the Institute. He is supportive of the University’s goals and programs for the Institute, and he is proud to participate in Institute activities as his schedule allows.”

As a senator, McCain is prohibited by federal law from directly accepting money from foreign governments, but those rules do not apply to non-profits, even if they hold close ties to politicians.

McCain is in a tight Senate race with Kirkpatrick, polls show.

The Clinton Foundation has also accepted money from foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia, Australia, Norway, and Sweden, according to Bloomberg. Some of these funds were donated while Hillary Clinton was serving in an official capacity as secretary of state.


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