McAuliffe's Top Donor Touched by AIPAC Investigation
Haim Saban, a wealthy California media mogul and Terry McAuliffe's top individual donor in his bid for Virginia governor, was part of an effort to influence a Justice Department investigation of two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of spying, according to a report published this week in The New York Times.
According to The Times report, a caller captured on a National Security Agency wire tap is recorded telling U.S. Rep. Jane Harman that Saban would call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and threaten to withhold campaign contributions if she did not make Harman chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The Times report focuses on the telephone exchange as potential evidence that the promise of a leadership post was part of an attempt to persuade Harman to intervene with the Bush Administration on behalf of the two lobbyists, who worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee until they were fired and indicted. The men, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, are expected to begin trial on espionage charges this year in Alexandria.
Today, Harman vehemently denied that she ever intervened in the case, although she did not deny agreeing to do so in the wiretapped call.
Saban has been a pro-Israel activist since the 1990s, and, according to campaign finance data, is, over the past decade, the largest giver to federal elections in the nation. He has given McAuliffe $276,064 for his gubernatorial bid, about $25,000 the cost of hosting a fundraiser for Mcauliffe and the rest a cash donation.
A Saban spokesman in Los Angeles did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. McAuliffe spokeswoman Delacey Skinner declined to comment.
April 21, 2009; 3:44 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , Amy Gardner , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe
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