WASHINGTON – A Pakistani immigrant who hosted fundraisers for Hillary Clinton is being sought by the FBI for allegedly funneling illegal contributions to Clinton’s political action committee and the 2004 re-election campaign of Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Authorities say Los Angeles businessman Abdul Rehman Jinnah, 56, fled the United States shortly after being indicted for engineering more than $50,000 in illegal donations to the Democratic committees. A business associate charged as Jinnah’s co-conspirator has entered a guilty plea and is scheduled to be sentenced in Los Angeles next week.
A federal law enforcement source said prosecutors had not dealt with the political committees in conducting their investigation and had no evidence that the committees knew the contributions were illegal.
Officials for both committees said they were unaware of the investigation or indictments until they were contacted by the Times, and they said they would give the donations to charity.
The case has transformed Jinnah from a political point man on Pakistani issues, a man often photographed next to foreign dignitaries and U.S. leaders, into a fugitive with his mug shot on the FBI’s most-wanted list.
Jinnah’s profile peaked in 2004 and 2005 as he wooed members of Congress to join a caucus advancing Pakistani concerns and brought Clinton to speak to prominent Pakistani Americans, lauding their homeland’s contributions to the war on terror and calling relations with Pakistan beneficial to U.S. interests.
Jinnah and his family donated more than $135,000 to the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates. Now friends say they believe Jinnah has returned to Pakistan.
Jinnah’s case has been handled with discretion by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, which recently lost a high-profile case against former Clinton campaign official David Rosen. He was acquitted of charges of filing false reports about a Hollywood fundraiser given for Clinton in 2000.
The indictment, handed down last May without a press release, mentions only the initials of the committees that received the illegal donations, referring to them as “HP” and “FB.” However, the charging document filed against Jinnah’s co-conspirator, Stuart Schoenburg, identifies one of the committees as HILLPAC, the leadership committee Clinton formed after her first Senate campaign and still uses.
Though Clinton cannot use HILLPAC to fund her presidential campaign directly, the fund allows her to donate to Democratic candidates and organizations, as well as to pay some political staff and travel expenses.
The Los Angeles Times was able to identify donations to Boxer’s campaign by cross-referencing dates and contributors’ initials listed in the indictment with campaign finance records. The “FB” in the indictment stood for “Friends of Barbara Boxer.”