Several council supporters said they had donated regularly, maybe a few thousand dollars at a time, and were unaware of the ISI's purported role in funding the group. But the FBI says the largest donations came from a group of at least 13 "straw donors," Pakistani-American doctors and businessmen who gave cash to Fai or wrote checks to the Kashmiri American Council. Several received tax write-offs for their contributions.
The straw donors were allegedly reimbursed by Zaheer Ahmad with money he received from the ISI.
At minimum, the write-offs violated U.S. tax laws, experts said. "That's not allowed," said Eli Bartov, a research professor of financial accounting at the Stern School of Business at New York University. "You can only get the deduction if you make the contribution."
But there was a larger mystery.
Internal budget documents confiscated by the FBI show far more money flowing through the Kashmiri American Council than reflected in the group's annual IRS filings. In its 2008 IRS filing, for example, the group reported spending $291,807, while the budget documents say it was more than twice that much, $690,380. In 2009, the council's reported spending was $332,706, while its internal records said $662,730.
So far, the government has not offered an explanation for these discrepancies. Fai did not answer questions on the matter.
Pablo Eisenberg, an expert on philanthropy and a senior fellow at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, said there could be several reasons for the conflicting information.
"One is, he wants to downsize for public consumption," Eisenberg said of Fai. "Or ... he's taking the money to use for his own purposes, whether spending it on himself or giving it to some other organization."
It's also possible Fai reported money he received by check, but not in cash, particularly cash transferred to him outside the U.S., said Marcus Owens, the former head of the IRS unit that oversees nonprofits.
Fai's internal budget documents spelled out plans to spend $80,000 to $100,000 a year on campaign contributions to members of Congress, the FBI said.
But donations made by Fai, his associates and board members appear to fall far short of those amounts, campaign finance records show.
Fai has given $28,165 to federal candidates and political parties since 1990, including $10,290 to Burton and $9,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Others connected to Fai and to the Kashmiri American Council's board of directors donated at least $92,556 during those years, including $28,951 to Burton.
So far, the FBI has identified only $4,000 in ISI money that went into campaign contributions, from Ahmad and his nephew. Pitts and Burton received $2,000 each, the FBI said.
Ultimately, the affidavit may only tell part of what the FBI was actually investigating.