Josh, looking into Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari (aka Michael Mixon), the New York businessman indicted last week for terrorist financing and bilking investors of millions of dollars, notes that Alishtari, in addition to doling out thousands to the National Republican Congressional Committee, also claims in an online CV to be a member of the "White House Business Advisory Committee" and at having been a "National Republican Congressional Committee [New York State] Businessman of the Year" in 2002 and 2003.
So was Alishtari a Republican heavy hitter?
Well, if he was, these awards aren't an indication of it.
As ABC's new ace investigative reporter Justin Rood reports today in his story on Alishtari, "the NRCC 'Businessperson of the Year' fundraising campaign, which gave such 'awards' to at least 1,900 GOP donors, has been derided as a telemarketing scam by political watchdogs."
Here's how it works, as reported in The Washington Post back in 2003:
The call starts with flattery: You have been named businessman of the year, or physician of the year, or state chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee's Business Advisory Council.
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Then comes the fundraising hook: a request for as much as $500 to help pay for a full-page Wall Street Journal advertisement, then a request for $5,000 to reserve a seat at a banquet thrown in your honor. Can't handle that? How about $1,250 for the no-frills package?