- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

With less than a week to go before the Democratic primary, Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia is in a fight for her seat against criticism for taking money from Muslims with ties to terrorism. The race is believed to be a dead heat.
The five-term Georgia Democrat has received thousands of dollars from Arabs many of them leaders of U.S. Muslim organizations including 25 donations that were either received or posted by her campaign on September 11.
Tuesday's primary election will determine whether Miss McKinney or former state Judge Denise Majette will represent Georgia's 4th District, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, 50 percent black, and among the wealthiest black districts in the country. Both candidates are black.
In the parlance of Dixie, the race is a "barnburner," says Charles Bullock III, a political scientist at the University of Georgia. This is the first time since 1996 that Miss Mc-Kinney has had a challenge in the primary.
Miss McKinney, 47, has captured a loyal core of black voters with ease since her election in 1992. Race and religious prejudice has roiled the district since 1996, when her father and political patron, state Rep. Billy McKinney, referred to his daughter's Republican opponent, John Mitnick, as a "racist Jew." A week later, Miss McKinney denounced her father's comments.
Georgia runs open balloting in primaries, which allows registered Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary. In a race as close as this one, Republican crossovers could elect Miss Majette.
Elizabeth Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Majette campaign, says that the controversy over Muslim money will not affect the 11th-hour advertising strategy. "She's got to do what she has got to do, and who she accepts money from is her business," Miss Wilson says.
The McKinney campaign portrayed the election and ensuing contribution questions as purely partisan. "The Republicans want us out," is how campaign spokeswoman Dana Mott put it this week. Miss McKinney has raised nearly $1.1 million, to about $623,000 for Miss Majette, according to the most recent filings.
Both candidates are getting most of their campaign donations from outside the district, much as the candidates did in a closely watched Alabama primary in June. In that primary, Artur Davis, supported by many Jews, defeated incumbent Rep. Earl F. Hilliard, a critic of Israel who received money from Muslims outside Alabama.
Among the McKinney donors recorded on September 11 were:
Abdurhman Alamoudi, president of the American Muslim Foundation, who gave $2,000. Mr. Alamoudi is a munificent donor to campaigns over the past several years, including those of President Bush and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, a Democrat. At a rally outside the White House in 2000, Mr. Alamoudi expressed support for the violent Palestinian groups Hamas and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi'ite party linked to suicide bombings. The controversy surrounding his comments prompted Mr. Bush and Mrs. Clinton to return his contributions. A spokesman at the foundation said this week that Mr. Alamoudi is out of the country.
Abdelhaleem Ashqar, a Howard University professor, gave $250. Dr. Ashqar was jailed for contempt of court in New York in 1998 after he refused to answer a grand jury's questions, saying he would rather die than give information that would be used against his friends or relatives in the Palestinian liberation movement. He did not return calls.
Yaqub Mirza, president and CEO of MarJac Investments in Herndon, Va., gave $500. His business was among 14 sites across Northern Virginia that were raided in March. At the time, government sources said the investigation was probing charities and other organizations that may have contributed money to international groups that sponsor terrorist activities. No arrests were made. Mr. Mirza did not return calls.
Miss McKinney's supporters in the Arab community say that Miss McKinney has always supported their causes. "It is imperative that we as Muslims in North America use our resources to help our brothers and sisters around the world," says Ahmad Totonji, a Virginia physician who donated $1,000 to Miss McKinney last fall after receiving a letter from her campaign. "If someone is doing good for us, I will support them."

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