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July 22, 2009

Islamic Nonprofit Group Paid for Minn. Congressman's Mecca Trip

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is facing a House Ethics Committee Review over an Islamic charity’s financing of his pilgrimage to Mecca, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.

The Minnesota Democrat, the only Muslim member of Congress, did not disclose the amount paid by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota for his December trip to Saudi Arabia to visit the holy site. The organization has received $879,000 in state funds through a rental arrangement with a charter school that has been probed by Minnesota officials for allegedly promoting Islam.

Characterizing the trip as a religious activity unrelated to his Congressional duties, Mr. Ellison said he complied with all House disclosure requirements and received ethics-panel approval before traveling. He reported the trip under disclosure rules for outside business activities, which do not require cost accounting, rather than under the more restrictive rules on gifts.