Former AIPAC president hopes to oversee Iran divestment

If elected, Steve Grossman is looking forward to ridding Massachusetts’s pension funds of companies doing business with Iran.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
August 4, 2010 04:13
3 minute read.
Steve Grossman, Massachusetts

Steve Grossman 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

WASHINGTON – Steve Grossman, the former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is looking forward to ridding Massachusetts’s pension funds of companies doing business with Iran should he win his race for state treasurer.

“It’s an important statement of our values and our priorities, that we don’t invest in companies that are working against the interests of the United States,” Grossman told The Jerusalem Post. “Our pension funds should not be put into stocks of foreign companies that are helping Iran develop an oil and gas industry and exporting terrorism and are creating problems in terms of the national security of the United States.”

Grossman expects that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will soon sign into law a bill passed last week by the state legislature cleaning public pensions of such investments, but pledged to work for divestment on his own as treasurer should that not happen.

Though Congress recently passed a law making it easier for states to divest, several other state treasurers have taken matters into their own hands to remove companies involved with Iran from pension funds.

Grossman, long a non-elected fixture on the state and national political scene, is also hoping to parlay his experience running a marketing company in a Boston suburb to a position requiring fiscal acumen during troubled economic times.

Grossman made an unsuccessful bid in 2002 for Massachusetts governor, but has some momentum in his Democratic primary race for treasurer against Boston City Councilman Steve Murphy. If he wins on September 14, he will face Republican Karyn Polito in November.

Grossman assumed a national profile in the Democratic Party when he was appointed by then-president Bill Clinton as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1999. He had been a major fundraiser for the president and again for Hillary Clinton in her own failed bid for the presidency, as well as for Jewish causes.

Before his stint at the DNC, he served as president of AIPAC.

Grossman’s Jewish values have been an important motivator in his political career, he said.

“My favorite passage in the literature is the passage from Isaiah that we read on Yom Kippur, to offer compassion to the hungry and relieve the oppressed,” he noted. “So I’ve always seen politics and public service as a vehicle to create social and economic justice.”

Though he added, “I also know that common sense dictates that we live within our means and that we need to create economic opportunity and jobs at a time when they’re not plentiful.”

In fact, he indicated that he is counting on his business background and Harvard business school pedigree to endear him to a range of Massachusetts constituencies in an election cycle where jobs and the recession are top concerns.

“I think I can cut across racial, religious, ethnic and cultural lines in a state that is obviously very heavily Roman Catholic,” he said.

And though, according to Grossman, no Jewish Democrat has ever been elected to statewide office in Massachusetts, he isn’t worried.

“There’s not a strong history of Jewish candidates running,” he acknowledged, “but I think I can overcome that history.

“I think my Jewish background, my commitment to social justice, coupled with a strong, down-toearth, common-sense, practical approach to problem-solving and solutions is particularly relevant at a time when voters are upset, deeply concerned, angry, worried about their income, their jobs, mortgages.”


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