Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has dropped one of its big fundraisers, or "HillRaisers" — Mehmet Celebi.
Celebi, a Turkish-American businessmen and co-owner of BMH Worldwide, was a financier of the most expensive Turkish movie ever made, "Valley of the Wolves Iraq," a 2006 release that features Gary Busey as a Jewish American Army doctor who harvests organs from injured Iraqis at Abu Ghraib to sell to rich transplant patients in Tel Aviv, London, and New York.
The film’s main villain is Billy Zane as a psychotic Christian fundamentalist. The film has been widely characterized as anti-American.
"We were unaware of Mr. Celebi’s involvement in this film and we obviously do not agree with it," said Clinton campaign senior adviser Ann Lewis on Friday to JTA. "He is no longer raising money for this campaign."
Some Clinton critics note that Clinton campaign has known about this issue since at least about a month ago when the New York Post called to ask about the Celebi connection and asked how Lewis could have only learned about it Friday from JTA.
Asked this morning for clarification, the Clinton campaign told me that they were unaware of Celebri’s involvement with the film until around the time of the New York Post item, when Celebri’s involvement with the campaign ceased.
It will be interesting to see if Sen. Obama’s campaign suggests that Clinton return the $100,000 or so that Celebi bundled for her.
(Incidentally, Busey’s attorney defended his appearance in the film to the Jerusalem Post by saying "there is something in this country called the First Amendment that protects freedom of expression," she said, "I hope we are not returning to the McCarthy era." She said, "If Gary played a rapist in a movie, would anyone believe him to be an actual rapist? He is an actor, not a politician." The Post reports that "When asked about the moral and ethical implications of portraying an anti-Semitic stereotype in a foreign movie, Roberts declined to comment.")