The wife of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who has been a critic of the violence in Sudan, sold off more than US$2 million in mutual funds whose holdings include companies that do business in the African nation.
The sale on Wednesday came after The Associated Press questioned the investments in light of calls by John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, for international financial sanctions against the Sudanese leadership.
McCain, who was campaigning in Ohio, said neither he nor his wife were aware of the Sudan-related holdings.
Last year, at least four presidential candidates divested themselves of similar holdings involving companies doing business in Sudan.
McCain’s personal financial disclosure said Cindy McCain’s investments include two mutual funds — American Funds Europacific Growth fund and American Funds Capital World Growth and Income fund — that are listed by the Sudan Divestment Task Force as targets for divestment.
“Those have been sold as of today [Wednesday],” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said.
Both funds have holdings in Oil & Natural Gas Corp, an India-based company that does business in Sudan. The American Funds Capital World Growth and Income Fund also has holdings in Petrochina, a Chinese government-owned oil company with vast investments in Sudan.
Last year, in a speech on energy policy to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, McCain cited China’s investments in Sudan as an example of regimes that survive off free-flowing petro dollars.
“The politics of oil impede the global progress of our values and restrains governments from acting on the most basic impulses of human decency,” he said. “There is only one reason China has opposed sanctions to pressure Sudan to stop the killing in Darfur — China needs Sudan’s oil.”
On Wednesday, Rogers said: “Senator and Mrs McCain remain committed to doing everything possible to end the genocide in Darfur.”
After touring a waste reprocessing plant near Columbus, Ohio, McCain described the American Funds as “one of the country’s largest mutual funds.”
“Obviously, we didn’t know about it and I didn’t know anything about it until I saw the story, because I don’t have anything to do with her finances,” he said. “But they divested as soon as it was brought to us.”
For the McCains, the Sudan-related investments are among scores of different investments listed in his financial disclosure documents. Cindy McCain is heiress to a Phoenix-based beer distributing company whose fortune is in the US$100 million range.
Later on Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee reiterated its call for Cindy McCain to release her tax returns.
“The fact the McCain family was holding Sudan-related investments even as John McCain was out on the campaign trail calling for sanctions is a reminder of why the American people expect and deserve full disclosure from their elected officials,” DNC spokesman Damien LaVera said.