Since Democrats in Washington are obsessed with "millionaires and billionaires" these days, perhaps they could explain why DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) has accepted multiple contributions from one millionaire in particular. Yid With Lid wonders why the aptly-named Congressman -- who claims to be a pro-Israel champion -- has banked $6,500 in political donations from Parviz Lavi since 2006. Who is Mr. Lavi? Newsday documented his arrest in 1998:
The Iranian-born owner of a Hicksville firm was arrested by federal agents yesterday on charges of conspiring to illegally smuggle fighter jet engines and their parts into Iran, according to officials. Parviz Lavi, 62, the owner of Omega Turbine Corp., 150 Express St., had been under investigation since 1991 by customs agents in Norfolk, Va., for a scheme to smuggle at least six turbine engines for the F-14 jet fighter and thousands of engine parts, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Burton Ryan.
According to court papers, Lavi had been wiretapped since 1992 discussing various schemes to sell the F-14 engines and their parts to Iran by shipping them first to associates in Rotterdam, Holland. At one point Lavi discussed paying between $125,000 and $150,000 for six of the TF-30 jet engines, the court papers said.
Lavi wasn't just a financier of this operation; The New York Times reported that he actively participated in the smuggling process himself, providing his native land's military with materials of "inestimable" strategic value:
Mr. Lavi went to Norfolk several times with a shopping list of prohibited parts, officials said. Undercover agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and businessmen involved in the arms trade who were cooperating with the Government agreed to sell him what he wanted: 500 metal vanes, or blades, for the powerful TF-30 engines on the F-14's that were made to stringent specifications by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies, in North Haven, Conn. The sale price was $25,000, but the authorities said the value of the parts to Iran's military was inestimable.
Jeff Dunetz quotes the Virginian-Pilot, which reported at the time that Lavi pleaded guilty after an associate agreed to testify against him in the case:
"The mastermind behind a plot to ship F-14 jet engine parts to Iran faces up to five years in prison after admitting in federal court Monday that he conspired to violate the Arms Export Control Act. Parviz Lavi, 62, a multimillionaire from New York and a longtime arms merchant, pleaded guilty to trying to export TF-30 engine parts, designed specifically for the F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, to Iran.”
This is a man who has admitted to knowingly plotting to violate US law by smuggling military technology and parts to a regime that is openly committed to (the state of) Israel's total annihilation. They've stated this goal repeatedly over the years, revisiting the theme as recently as this week. Why did Rep. Israel deem it appropriate to accept funds from such a man? Will he return the sum total of those donations, in full? Voters in his district may be interested in the answers to both of those questions, as may national Democrats. Rep. Israel is, after all, his party's point man for re-taking the House next year.
UPDATE - This issue has been percolating for years, pre-dating Rep. Israel's elevation to DCCC chairman.