Ronald Lauder Disavows Anti-Muslim Videos By Group He Gave $1.1 Million by the Forward

Ronald Lauder Disavows Anti-Muslim Videos By Group He Gave $1.1 Million

Image by Getty Images

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ronald Lauder, a leading Jewish philanthropist, disavowed the anti-Muslim videos of a beneficiary organization, saying he had contributed because the group opposed the Iran nuclear deal.

“Mr. Lauder donated to Secure America Now to support their work in opposition to the Iran nuclear deal,” a spokesman for the World Jewish Congress president said Monday in an email to JTA. “He had nothing to do with any of the group’s other activities. Mr. Lauder has consistently supported interfaith respect and dialogue. He would never be involved with insulting people of faith.”

Open Secrets, an elections watchdog, published an investigation last week that identified Lauder and Robert Mercer, a reclusive hedge fund billionaire, as the main donors to the group in 2016, when it ran anti-Muslim ads that appeared to target voters in swing states just prior to the presidential election.

Mercer, a major backer of President Trump, gave Secure America Now $2 million and Lauder donated $1.1 million. The group, headed by Allen Roth, a longtime adviser to Lauder, garnered over $8.27 million that year.

It’s not clear how much Secure American Now paid for the videos, which popped up in social media feeds in swing states just before the election, and which were parody travelogues depicting Muslim takeovers of France, the United States and Germany.

The ads may have been aimed at spurring turnout by pro-Trump voters who agreed with the candidate’s views on restricting immigration and perceiving a threat from Muslims.

Bloomberg News said last year that Facebook and Google competed for “millions” of dollars in ad money to distribute the videos.

Author

Ronald Lauder Disavows SAN Anti-Muslim Videos

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Ronald Lauder Disavows Anti-Muslim Videos By Group He Gave $1.1 Million

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close