Rep. Tom Emmer has been accused of anti-Semitism after he sent a letter to fellow Republican officeholders claiming that three Jewish Democratic billionaires had “bought control of Congress for the Democrats.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The letter sparked backlash:
Emmer, a third-term congressman representing Minnesota’s exurban Sixth District, is the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which advises and raises money for Republicans running for Congress. A letter he sent to NRCC members in March, which was first reported by the American Jewish World newspaper last week, claimed that the Trump administration’s good works were being covered up by “biased media and hundreds of millions of dollars of anti-Republican propaganda put out by liberal special interests, funded by deep-pocketed far-left billionaires George Soros, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg.”
Soros and Bloomberg are Jewish; Steyer has a Jewish father.
“The idea that Jews are behind a conspiracy to undermine society or control government is pretty classic anti-Semitism, and we know that these words can lead to real violence,” Carin Mrotz, the executive director of the local advocacy group Jewish Community Action, told the local newspaper.
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas executive director Steve Hunegs said in a statement that he had told Emmer that reciting lists of influential Jewish billionaires “evokes anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jewish plutocracy” but also called Emmer “a good friend to the Jewish community in Minnesota.”
The NRCC stood by its language. “There is nothing anti-Semitic about drawing attention to billionaire donors and who they are giving money to,” spokesman Chris Pack said in an email to the Jewish World.
He’s accused Democrats — including Jewish politicians — of anti-Semitism:
Ironically, Emmer himself has accused several Democrats of anti-Semitism — including fellow Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, whom he castigated for her tweet claiming that congressional support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins.”
The NRCC has also said that several Democrats in swing districts, including Jewish Reps. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and Max Rose of New York, were themselves anti-Semitic for not sufficiently condemning Omar.
“As the first Jewish congressman from Staten Island, it’s downright disgusting for Congressman Emmer’s NRCC to question my faith. This isn’t a joke or partisan game to me because across the country, we’ve seen Jews murdered in synagogues or sucker punched because they were wearing a kippah,” Rose told MinnPost.
He’s not afraid to get nasty:
Politico reported in June that Emmer has faced criticism even from fellow Republican lawmakers that the NRCC’s attacks on Democrats have gotten too personal — including calling the 5’6” Staten Island congressman “Little Max Rose.”
“Our communications team has a direct mandate from me and Leader [Kevin] McCarthy to be ruthless,” Emmer told Politico.
Emmer is a strong supporter of the Israeli government and traveled to the country in 2016 as a guest of the Orthodox Jewish organization Aish HaTorah.
He represents Michele Bachmann’s district:
Emmer, a former state House representative, was elected to Washington in 2014 after the retirement of the controversial congresswoman Michele Bachmann. He’s won his last two elections with more than 60% of the vote.