Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign contends it returned $33,500 in illegal contributions from Palestinians in Hamas-controlled Gaza, but the donors told WND today they have not received any money.
The Wall Street Journal reported it spoke to Obama officials who said the donations from three Palestinian brothers were received between Sept. 20 and Dec. 6 last year, and virtually all of the money was returned by Dec. 6. The campaign said, however, the refunds were not reported to the Federal Election Commission due to a technical error.
The Obama camp insisted the remaining $2,500 was refunded Monday and all of the refunds will be reflected soon in an amended report. The campaign said new controls are in place to prevent any similar attempts in the future.
But WND asked two of the brothers – Monir and Hasam Edwan – to respond to the campaign’s claims.
“No, we did not receive any money back from the Obama campaign at any time,” said Monir Edwan.
The Edwans continue to maintain – as they told WND earlier this week – that the financial transactions made on Obama’s campaign website were not actual donations but purchases of “Obama for President” T-shirts. The transactions, however, were listed as donations in U.S. government election filings.
The donations violate election laws, including prohibitions on receiving contributions from foreigners and against accepting more than $2,300 from one individual during a single election.
A WND investigation tracked down the Edwans in the Tal Esaltan neighborhood of Rafah, a large refugee camp in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Edwans are a large clan that include top Hamas supporters.
The brothers denied their financial transactions were actual donations to Obama’s campaign, claiming they purchased about $30,000 in Obama T-shirts from the presidential candidate’s online store – a contention that did not hold up during a WND interview, when they changed their story several times.
“My brother Hosam and I knew that Obama will be a big hit even before he became a candidate. We knew the guy would be a celebrity in Gaza so we decided to invest the amount of $29,000 to buy Obama T-shirts from his website and sell them in Gaza,” Monir Edwan told WND, speaking by cell phone from Gaza.
Asked how he managed to get shipments of T-shirts into the Gaza Strip during the time Israel imposed a tight closure, Edwan maintained the packages were sent to him by the U.S. Postal Service.
Monir Edwan said he wants Obama to be president.
“Not just the people in Gaza but people from all over the world are rooting for this great man,” he told WND.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.