09/21/2010 08:32 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Who Is Funding the Funders?

Last week, Buffalo-based businessman and controversial Tea Party candidate Carl Paladino won the Republican primary for New York State Governor over former Representative Rick Lazio by nearly twice as many votes. That humiliating defeat for Lazio came after he had focused the final weeks of his campaign on the proposed Cordoba Community Center at 49-51 Park Place in Downtown Manhattan, AKA "The Ground Zero Mosque." Essentially, along with asking whether the project should in fact be built, Lazio also wanted to know whether it would be funded by elements around the world that are hostile to the U.S.

For me, the questions being raised about the validity of building the center in New York's financial district are a mere sideshow to questions about the project's financing. And now that the primary is over -- despite rumors that Lazio is planning to stay in the race somehow -- the questions that Lazio raised about the sources of the Islamic center's funding are the ones that are still dogging us.

If monies for the Muslim center are coming from overseas, are they coming from those whose interests are not aligned with the United States, and if so, then where are these funders getting their money?

Here are some answers: Many of these so-called "hostile funders" are actually oil-producing nations or else individuals and entities within those nations. And according to the latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries report, several of the nations offering to help fund the Cordoba project are not exactly our best friends. Although Saudi Arabia, for instance, one of our strongest Middle Eastern allies, we know that there are factions inside of that country that have been funding terrorism. We also know that the Saudis are the second biggest exporter of oil to the United States. A complete list of the countries that provide the U.S. with oil -- which includes several nations considered very unfriendly to the U.S. -- is available here.

But all this talk about how the Cordoba project will be funded begs a bigger question: If we're really going to decide that the project shouldn't be built due to the murky nature of its funding, then shouldn't we also be trying to find an energy alternative to oil so that we don't have to continue to send our dollars to nations and entities that are hostile to us? Surely rebuilding our infrastructure so that we no longer have to depend upon importing oil from unfriendly elements would be a good thing. It's naive to think that anything is going to change if we don't.

Jonathan A. Schein is CEO/ScheinMedia, publisher of