WASHINGTON – Jewish Republicans and Democrats traded barbs Friday over the
propriety of taking money from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
Jewish Democratic Council threw down the gauntlet on Thursday, calling on the
GOP and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to refuse
money from Adelson, who has pumped millions of dollars into PACs supporting the
party and candidate.
NJDC president David Harris launched an online
petition drive calling for the rejection of “tainted” money from Adelson, who
has been accused of corruption and allowing prostitution on his
In response, Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republic
Jewish Coalition, slammed the NJDC campaign.
“It is absolutely outrageous
that the NJDC would stoop so low to character assassination of the one
individual who has done so much for the Jewish people and Jewish philanthropy
for the sake of partisan political gain,” Brooks charged.
He noted that
Adelson, who is a major funder of the RJC, has not been found to have engaged in
any illegal practices, and that many of the allegations have been made by a
“disgruntled” former employee.
Brooks also questioned why the NJDC had
not called on Adelson to return the millions of dollars he has given to Jewish
federations, Taglit-Birthright, Yad Vashem and other Jewish
“There are different standards in these different areas,
between politics and philanthropy,” Harris said, adding that there’s a “higher
standard for those seeking the highest office in the land.”
emphasized that the NJDC is not saying the allegations against Adelson are true,
but is merely asking his political beneficiaries to refrain from accepting his
donations until the cases against him have been resolved.
initially donated generously to Newt Gingrich during the Republican primary, but
has now backed Romney since he clinched the nomination.
Romney will soon
be traveling to Israel, and some have suggested that the decision to go to
Israel was affected by the staunchly pro-Israel Adelson’s support.
rejected that assertion as “absolutely absurd.”
He said that Romney is
seeking to draw contrasts with US President Barack Obama’s treatment of Israel,
a country that he has not visited during his time in office, though he did stop
there during the 2008 campaign.
“This trip is absolutely consistent with
everything he [Romney] has said publicly” about Israel, according to Brooks.