A fireworks display at a Long Island bar mitvah damaged a Bentley — and is threatening to singe a congressman’s career.
Rocket debris from the rooftop fireworks demonstration apparently dented the high-end luxury car. But not before Tim Bishop, a Democratic congressman on Long Island, allegedly solicited a donation from the bar mitzvah boy’s father while simultaneously working to get him a permit for the fireworks display, Politico reported today.
The fracas started when Jewish hedge fund manager Eric Semler was having trouble getting the necessary permits for a fireworks extravaganza to cap off his son’s Hamptons bar mitzvah party. So he turned to the local congressman, Tim Bishop.
Bishop, a Democrat, is facing a tough reelection fight this November in the East End swing district against Randy Altschuler, a Jewish Republican he beat in 2010.
According to Politico, Bishop’s staff asked Semler for a $10,000 donation while Bishop was working to help Semler obtain the fireworks permits. That may be a violation of House ethics rules, but Bishop insisted he was just helping a constituent in need, not to mention his bar mitzvah boy son.
“I did my job. I was asked to fix a problem for a constituent that I did not create. I fixed it,” Bishop told Politico. “I never directly solicited him. We told him how he could help. And then a month later, he helped.”
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.