Officials Silent on Status of Indicted US Religious Commission Member

December 17, 2019 Updated: December 17, 2019
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WASHINGTON—A spokesperson for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) declined to comment Dec. 17 when asked by The Epoch Times about the status of Commissioner Andy Khajawa, who was indicted earlier this month for allegedly helping to conceal $3.5 million in illegal contributions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.

“We’re not commenting on Andy Khawaja’s indictment,” said USCIRF spokesperson Kellie Boyle. “Your best bet would be to contact Chuck Schumer’s office, since that is who appointed Andy.”

Boyle didn’t respond when asked if Khawaja continues to participate in the commission’s daily management, or if he’s recused himself pending the outcome of the indictment that was announced Dec. 3 by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Khawaja’s photograph and official biography remain posted on the USCIRF website.

Spokesmen for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who appointed Khawaja, didn’t respond to The Epoch Times’ email and telephone requests for comment.

Khawaja is a 48-year-old Lebanese American businessman and high-dollar political donor with deep national-level connections in the Democratic Party. He’s also been photographed with President Donald Trump in the White House, after making a $1 million contribution to the president’s 2016 inaugural celebration.

Khawaja is founder and chief executive officer of Allied Wallet Inc., an online payment processing firm. A spokesman for Allied Wallet didn’t respond to The Epoch Times’ email and telephone requests for comment. The company has offices in Los Angeles, Germany, Ireland, India, Japan, and Macau.

“A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia indicted Ahmad ‘Andy’ Khawaja, 48, of Los Angeles, California, on Nov. 7, 2019, along with George Nader, Roy Boulos, Rudy Dekermenjian, Mohammad “Moe” Diab, Rani El-Saadi, Stevan Hill and Thayne Whipple,” the DOJ stated in its announcement of the indictment.

“The 53-count indictment charges Khawaja with two counts of conspiracy, three counts of making conduit contributions, three counts of causing excessive contributions, 13 counts of making false statements, 13 counts of causing false records to be filed, and one count of obstruction of a federal grand jury investigation.”

“According to the indictment, from March 2016 through January 2017, Khawaja conspired with Nader to conceal the source of more than $3.5 million in campaign contributions, directed to political committees associated with a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 election,” the DOJ stated. The $3.5 million came from an unnamed foreign nation.

Federal Election Commission records show the contributions went to Clinton, who was favored to defeat Republican Trump, who scored an upset victory in the 2016 election.

“By design, these contributions appeared to be in the names of Khawaja, his wife, and his company. In reality, they allegedly were funded by Nader. Khawaja and Nader allegedly made these contributions in an effort to gain influence with high-level political figures, including the candidate,” the announcement stated.

The USCIRF was created by President Bill Clinton and Congress in 1998 “to monitor violations of religious freedom or belief abroad. Such violations range from the denial of permits to build places of worship to the detention, torture, killing or displacement of individuals due to their holding or practicing a particular religion or belief,” according to the commission’s web site.

The present chairman of the commission is Dr. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council in Washington, following an appointment by Trump.

Gayle Manchin, the wife of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), is vice chairman. She also was appointed by Schumer. Other Trump-appointed commissioners include former Reagan White House senior aide Gary Bauer and Nadine Maenza, executive director of Patriot Voices.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appointed two of the present commissioners, Anurima Bhargava and Tenzin Dorjee.

There is nothing in Khawaja’s USCIRF biography that connects him with specific religious institutions or international religious advocacy groups. His term officially ends in May 2020.

Contact Mark Tapscott at mark.tapscott @epochtimes.nyc.