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Cindy McCain Sells Sudan-Related Funds

Cindy McCain, whose husband has been a critic of the violence in Sudan, sold off more than $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.

Last year, at least four presidential candidates divested themselves of Sudan-related holdings.

According to McCain's personal financial disclosure, 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," said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers.

Both funds have holdings in Oil & Natural Gas Corp., an India-based company that does business in Sudan. The American Funds Capital World Growth & 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."

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 $100 million range.

Sen. McCain is regularly ranked among the richest lawmakers in Congress, but under the terms of a prenuptial agreement, much of the family's assets are in Cindy McCain's name. While the disclosure reports provide the identity of income and assets held by candidates and their spouses, they only offer a range of the amount of the holding. Indeed, the report lists Cindy McCain's investments in the two mutual funds as simply "over $1,000,0000."

In tax returns he released last month, the Arizona senator reported a total income of $405,409 in 2007.

But Cindy McCain files separate tax returns which she has not made public. Last week, she said she would never make her returns public even if her husband becomes president.

Later 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," said DNC spokesman Damien LaVera.

The Sudan-related investments illustrate the hazards for wealthy candidates whose vast holdings undergo thorough scrutiny during a presidential campaign.

A year ago, several presidential candidates divested themselves of Sudan-related holdings. Among them were Democrats Barack Obama and John Edwards and Republicans Sam Brownback and Rudy Giuliani.

In 2006, Brownback was among members of Congress who wrote 44 governors to urge them to divest their employee pension funds from businesses linked to Sudan. He is now serving as a top adviser to McCain's campaign.

At the time, Obama placed the total value of his divestitures at $180,000. The sales of the investments were recorded in their financial disclosures.

According to Giuliani's financial disclosure, he invested between $500,000 and $1 million in a Vanguard Wellington Fund. Data compiled by the Sudan Divestment Task Force shows that Vanguard Wellington has a small percentage of stock in Schlumberger Ltd., a French oil field services company that does business in Sudan.

Edwards sold stock he and his wife owned in Schlumberger for between $40,000 and $100,000. He also invested $50,000 to $100,000 in Evergreen Equity Income Fund, another fund identified by the divestment task force as having stock in Sudan-related companies.