Following up on my post from yesterday, McCain bundler Harry Sargeant III just keeps getting more interesting. According to The New York Times, Sargeant raised a great deal of money from contributors who appear to be giving beyond their means. In some cases, donors seem either apolitical or utterly opposed to McCain as a candidate, but so far all of them have said the donations came from them and they were not reimbursed.

The donations were raised through a Mr. Mustafa Abu Naba’a, a business partner of Sargeant's. Erik Kleefield at TPM notes that Naba'a and Sargeant are currently being sued by a third business partner, Mohammed Al-Saleh, a relative of King Abdullah of Jordan, who alleges that he was defrauded out of profits from their joint venture. Sargeant's company, the International Oil Trading Company, was able to secure a 913 million dollar U.S. contract shipping fuel to Iraq through Jordan, despite not offering the lowest bid.

According to an MSNBC article Kleefield points to, Al-Saleh claims that he was the sole reason that IOTC was able to secure the letter of authorization, due to his "connections" in the Jordanian government. The Pentagon says none of the other companies bidding met the requirements for the contract, one of which was a nod from the Jordanian government, but the NBC report says the lawsuit contains the minutes of a company meeting in which Sargeant expresses his intention to "exclude all rivals from the Pentagon contract" as well as "maximizing profits by getting all the contracts and not leaving hope for the competitors." 

In response to the NBC story, which was reported in July, Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent letters to Sargeant and Defense Secretary Robert Gates seeking information on the contracts given to IOTC.

Kleefield concludes:

In other words, Sargeant and Naba'a are being sued on the grounds that
they've defrauded their business partner out of his take on a deal that
is in turn defrauding the U.S. taxpayer.

I don't know if I'd go that far yet, but there are definitely more questions to be asked about Mr. Sargeant.

--A. Serwer

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