-Philanthropist and liberal activist George Soros has been funding J Street, the Washington Times has revealed. Though J Street’s executive director, Jeremy Ben Ami, has denied any donations to the dovish group by Soros in the past, tax records reveal that Soros and his two children have contributed a total $245,000 to J Street from a Manhattan address in New York from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.
J Street’s website previously stated Soros’ reluctance to get involved with the group for fear that the association would be used against it. Soros has spoken out against Israel’s 2009 conflict with Gaza and President George Bush’s refusal to recognize Hamas. Upon the article’s release the website was edited and now says “J Street has said it doesn’t receive money from George Soros, but now news reports indicate that he has in fact contributed.”
Tax records also revealed that almost half of J Street’s $811,697 revenue in that fiscal year came from an individual donor named Consolacion Esdicul in Happy Valley, Hong Kong. “She is trying to make the Middle East a Happy Valley,” said Ben Ami, referring to the Hong Kong suburb. Esdicul reportedly donated money at the urging of Bill Benter, a Philadelphia based philanthropist and CEO of Acusis, a medical services firm.
-David Axelrod is smiling despite the possible setbacks for the Democrats come November 2. In an interview with Lloyd Grove, President Obama’s senior advisor seemed hopeful about a tossup election in which Democrats might win Republican seats while losing their own. Commenting on the criticism the president and his party have received, Axelrod said he foresaw it two years ago when he warned the president that “our numbers aren’t going to be what they are today, and all those guys who are being heralded as geniuses are going to be decried as idiots.” Axelrod, who is Jewish, will leave his position at the White House in a few months to run Obama’s reelection campaign. (The Daily Beast)
-Rep. Ron Klein, the Jewish Democratic incumbent for Florida’s 22nd congressional district, is getting help from fellow Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings, who plans on fundraising for Klein in areas with large black populations. Hastings, who is African-American, wants to increase black turnout for Klein and bar Republican opponent Allen West, who is also black, from gaining an advantage. The two are locked in a close election with both raising over $2 million. West has challenged Klein’s support for Israel, while Klein has accused West of wanting to destroy Social Security. (POLITICO)
-Races to Watch: In the Pennsylvania Senate race, a September 21 CNN/Time poll showed an increase in support for both Republican Pat Toomey at 49% and Democratic opponent Rep. Joe Sestak at 44%. Toomey has maintained a higher position in the polls in recent weeks. (CNN/Time)
-New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has bought a one-way ticket to Washington D.C. for Democrat Sheldon Silver, leader of the state Assembly, after comments Silver made to Jewish Week that New Yorkers “should consider moving out of state” if Paladino wins. In response, Paladino bought Silver a $75.00 coach Amtrak ticket to leave Albany November 3 after the election. Paladino’s campaign manager, Michael Caputo, said “after Carl Paladino wins in New York, the only place that will hire him [Silver] is the Obama Administration.” The ticket is waiting to be picked up at the train station. (WGRZ)
Maia Efrem is the former research editor and assistant to the editor and was also responsible for the Forward’s annual Salary Survey. Previously she served as the editor of Blognik Beat, a blog written by students who emigrated from or have ties to the Former Soviet Union. Maia is a graduate of Hunter College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Bagels and Ballots- Friday