Lesson From Ex-Congressman’s Plight: Follow Rules, Come Clean

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Federal prosecutors often take very seriously the prohibitions on illegal lobbying and on withholding the truth from the FBI. That’s one of the lessons that former U.S. Rep. Mark Siljander probably learned last month when he pleaded guilty to two federal charges relating to his alleged ties to an Islamic charity claimed to have funded money to international terrorists.

When Siljander was indicted in January 2008 on charges of money laundering, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy related to his dealings with the now-defunct Islamic America Relief Agency, then based in Columbia, Mo., the news created quite a stir. The alleged involvement of a conservative former Michigan congressman with a charity suspected of having terrorist ties made headlines. Siljander faced charges of money laundering and conspiracy, among other charges.

The money laundering and conspiracy charges will now be dismissed after Siljander’s July plea to illegal lobbying and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors say, and Siljander has acknowledged, that he received $75,000 from the charity to push for its removal from a U.S. Senate Finance Committee list of charities assisting terrorism and that the group paid him with funds obtained from the U.S. Agency for International Development for work it was supposed to have done in Africa but didn’t.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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