McCloskey returns money

Ex-congressman Pete McCloskey, who is trying to unseat Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, has returned an unwanted — and, he says, unsolicited — check from M. Yaqub Mirza, a man federal officials have reportedly investigated for ties to Al-Quaida.

My esteemed colleague at the Stockton Record, Hank Shaw, reported earlier this week that Mirza had sent McCloskey a $2,100 check. Mirza has apparently has donated to Republicans over the years.

It’s not uncommon for candidates to return money from unsavory sources but this one is particularly sticky for McCloskey.

As the Times has reported in several past stories, McCloskey has lobbied for years against pro-Israeli U.S. policies and was a friend of the late Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat.

McCloskey has also attracted considerable Jewish ire for his decision to speak at a conference of a controversial group that questions the extent and even the existence of the Holocaust.