The Washington Post in a front-page story today details the largess of Delray Beach's Harry Sargeant III, who pulled together checks for John McCain's presidential campaign "from an unlikely group of California donors: a mechanic from D&D Auto Repair in Whittier, the manager of Rite Aid Pharmacy No. 5727, the 30-something owners of the Twilight Hookah Lounge in Fullerton."
Ooops. Not so fast. The Post has corrected its story to note that it "incorrectly identified a Rite Aide manager and two Twilight Hookah Lounge owners as being among the donors Sargeant solicited on behalf of McCain. Those donors - Rite Aid manager Ibrahim Marabeh, and the lounge owners, Nadia and Shawn Abdalla - wrote checks to (former McCain rival Rudy) Giuliani and (Democratic presidential candidate Hillary) Clinton, not McCain."
The Post says that Sargeant, who has emerged as a "major player in Florida fundraising for McCain," is a college fraternity brother of Gov. Charlie Crist and remains close to Crist. The story calls him the "archetype of a modern presidential money man," noting that although "the law forbids high-level supporters from writing huge checks ... with help from friends in the Middle East and the former chief of the CIA's bin Laden unit -- who now serves as a consultant to his company -- Sargeant has raised more than $100,000 for three presidential candidates from a collection of ordinary people, several of whom professed little interest in the outcome of the election."
Michael Gehrke, research director at the Democratic National Committee, told reporters on a conference call that Dems plan to watch the story. "It looks like some of those contributions were not on the up and up," he said. "The bigger point the story makes is that there's going to a lot of times when McCain is kind of hauled down by a lot of these donors and a lot of the people who are around him."
Crist, though, told reporters in Tallahassee that he's a major Sargeant fan.
"He's a great patriot. I love him," Crist said. "He's a great patriot and I love him for it." Reminded that Sargeant bundled checks for Crist during his guv race in '06, Crist noted, "He and many other people, thank goodness."
Brian Rogers, a McCain campaign spokesman, told the Post: "We strictly follow campaign finance law, and where flags are raised, we'll certainly look into it."
UPDATE: Sargeant has also contributed locally: he gave the maximum $4,6000 in March to Miami Republican Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart. He contributed $2,300 last year to Rep. Robert Wexler, a Boca Democrat who co-chairs Barack Obama's Florida campaign.