Nelson runs away from campaign contribution he didn't receive

Ahmed Bedier says he never wrote such a check.

In an interview with CL Monday morning, Bedier said he helped facilitate the October 22 fundraiser at Ocala pharmacist Manal Fakhoury's home. He understood why the Nelson team may have thought he wrote such a check, since he was a prominent person at the fundraiser.

"Most of the people within our community… like Senator Nelson. He's not a champion of Arab causes or Muslim causes, they just think he's a better candidate for Florida," adding that many Florida Muslims are concerned about the "extremism on the other side," referring to GOP Senate candidate Adam Hasner.

A feud between Hasner and Bedier began in 2009 when the former House Majority Leader called Bedier a "known terrorist sympathizer" after Bedier led a group of nearly 200 Muslims to Tallahassee for Florida Capital Muslim Day. When Hasner was asked about his characterization of Bedier, he said Bedier had been "an unofficial spokesman" for Sami Al-Arian, the former USF professor whose 2005 federal trial on terrorism charges ended with his acquittal on eight of the seven counts against him, with the jury deadlocking on the other nine. Al-Arian later pled guilty to one charge of conspiracy to contribute services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The St. Petersburg Times reported in February of 2009 that Hasner had e-mailed more than a dozen Tallahassee lobbyists who were Jewish, asking them if they intended to be "part of an information campaign in opposition to it?"

Bedier said that just because he meets with politicians, it doesn't mean he agrees with them. It's more about creating a dialogue.

"I've met with some of the most right-wing people in the state. That doesn't mean I endorse them or they endorse me," he says, referring to former Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul, a Republican. "Does Adam Hasner know I have pictures with Larry Cretul?"

Bedier said he also has photos with the Speaker of the House in Washington D.C, John Boehner, but that doesn't mean he supports his agenda at all.

Bedier previously worked in the Tampa office of CAIR, generally considered a mainstream group until 2007, when it was named as one of three unindicted co-conspirators in a plot to fund Hamas involving the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.

In 2009, former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio's office announced that it would no longer award proclamations for CAIR, though Iorio never said why, other than that new information has been presented to her.

Bedier says that in Florida politics, it's easy for politicians to run away from showing any support for the Muslim community. "These politicians in Florida," he says, "can't afford… even the perception that they are remotely connected with anything that could be considered political suicide for them, and they cave in and start panicking." Bedier says such politicians don't want to alienate their Jewish supporters.

Recent polls show Hasner floundering near the bottom of the pack of candidates running for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in 2012.

Cl contacted Nelson's office Monday afternoon to hear why they said they had returned Bedier's check when in fact he never contributed to the Democrat's re-election bid. They did not return our call by the end of the business day.

Regarding the alleged anti Israeli statements that Bedier had made in the past that the Nelson team said was why they were disassociating with him, Caputo in the Herald reports that the Nelson staffer found via an Internet search that Bedier had accused Israel of engaging in terrorism in 2006, during the war that summer between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.invasion to stop terror attacks.

Full disclosure: Steven Emerson filed a libel suit against CL — then called the Weekly Planet — and former editor John Sugg in 1999. He withdrew that suit in 2003.

  • Bill Nelson & Ahmed Bedier

A recent flap regarding Florida Senator Bill Nelson and a Tampa Muslim activist is making waves, reflecting the sensitivity of Florida politicians toward the Jewish vote, a key demographic in next year's election in the Sunshine State.

Steven Emerson's website, The Investigative Project on Terrorism, last week reported that Tampa Muslim activist Ahmed Bedier had co-hosted a recent fundraiser for Senator Nelson, who faces re-election next year. That's a fact that neither side disputes.

Bedier is with the group United Voices for America, but used to be affiliated with CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, here in Tampa. And the website article says that he still is associated with the group, helping them out at various fundraisers.

The website (as well as the Tampa Tribune ) reported last week that Nelson "did not know" about Bedier's affiliation with CAIR, and returned a $500 campaign contribution from him "because the campaign learned of some highly controversial statements about Israel attributed to him. The statements aren't reflective of Sen. Nelson's long-held views and support of Israel."

But, in fact, as the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo reported on Monday, Bedier never even wrote such a check.

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