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Posted: 6:19 p.m. Friday, July 11, 2014

Nunn to return donation from felon who co-hosted D.C. fundraiser

By Shannon McCaffrey

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The U.S. Senate campaign of Michelle Nunn said Friday that it will return a donation from a convicted felon and former Black Panther who co-hosted a Washington fundraiser for the Democrat just days ago.

Virtual Murrell pleaded guilty in the mid-1990s to accepting bribes while serving as an aide to an Oakland, Calif., city councilman. He was also an early leader in the Black Panther Party who once labeled the U.S. government “racist” and a “dog.”

The Nunn campaign said Friday that it was unaware of Murrell’s criminal history and disagreed with his comments. The event Tuesday on Capitol Hill featured Nunn’s famous father, Sam Nunn, who represented Georgia in the Senate for more than 20 years.

According to the fundraiser invite, the suggested contribution for co-hosts was $2,600. It was not clear whether that was the amount Murrell donated to Michelle Nunn’s Senate bid.

Murrell could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

A federal grand jury in 1994 indicted Murrell on charges that he received $37,000 worth of bribes from California businesses while working as a City Council aide. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in prison.

Murrell’s LinkedIn profile lists him as a principal for The Pegasus Group, a Virginia-based public relations firm, but a working phone number could not be located for the company.

In archival footage from the San Francisco television station KRON-TV, Murrell said blacks should not be subjected to military service because they have been “victimized by the white racist government of America.”

On the eve of his draft in 1968, Murrell said, “if this racist, ethnocentric, imperialistic dog forces me to go, I have no other choice other than to sabotage your arsenal and to arm black people to use (arms) against this racist power structure to defend themselves.”

News of Murrell’s background was first reported in the National Review Online.

Nunn has been largely lying low and raising money while Republicans David Perdue and Jack Kingston — locked in a July 22 runoff — battle for the right to take her on in November.

The AJC reported last month on another even more far-reaching fundraising problem involving Kingston, a congressman from Savannah.

The FBI is now investigating an alleged scheme in which a Palestinian national under a U.S. deportation order because of a prior felony conviction raised more than $80,000 from employees linked to two companies with which he had ties. Khalid Satary was released from prison in 2008 after serving three years for running a music counterfeiting scheme valued at $50 million, at the time one of the largest cases of music piracy in the nation.

A whistleblower involved with the fundraiser also alleged that Satary offered bonuses to employees who agreed to contribute most of the money to Kingston, a so-called straw donor scheme that is against federal campaign finance law.

The Murrell connection is an embarrassing black eye for the Nunn team as it gears up for the campaign to begin in earnest following the GOP runoff.

A former nonprofit executive, this is Nunn’s first bid for elected office.

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