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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Endorsement Backtracking

This week's Jewish Week has a piece on an event run last week by the Bloomberg campaign, and some questions that have come up in its wake regarding endorsements.
Did “1,200 members of the Jewish community” endorse Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s re-election at a breakfast last Friday? The mayor’s campaign Web site claims they did.

Not so fast, say some of the attendees — leaders of national and local Jewish organizations that, as nonprofits, are prohibited by the Internal Revenue Service from making political endorsements. Many of the groups also bar officials from giving their personal nods.
Apparently, some Jewish officials are annoyed that the site has put them on his list of those who are endorsing him.
But Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Presidents Conference, said, “I haven’t made an endorsement in 30 years.” Michael Miller, executive vice president of the JCRC said that “as a policy, the president and the senior staff of the JCRC are forbidden from making any personal endorsement.”

Hoenlein said he often attends political events on both sides of a campaign as long as they are not fund-raisers and believed this breakfast would be more of an address by the mayor on Jewish issues, which in part, it was. Had he known it would also have been a get-out-the-vote rally, he said “I would have had to consider it.”
Fair enough - if the event was really presented as Hoenlein says it was, as opposed to an event endorsing the mayor's candidacy. Except that this event rang a bell for me. I remembered seeing the invitation for the event, as it was published in the NY Times and on the Politicker blog over Sukkos, to showcase an amusing misspelling of the name of former mayor Giuliani. The Times titled their piece "Did Bloomberg Buy an Extra Vowel?".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I got an invitation begging my presence at "a breakast in support of the re-election campaign of Mayor Michael Bloomberg", and I was prohibited by law from publicly endorsing a candidate, I probably wouldn't go. To me, this seems like a clear support rally for the mayor, not, as Hoenlein put it, "an address by the mayor on Jewish issues". Maybe, if Hoenlein's non-profit status is so important to him, he should start to read the invitations he receives a bit more carefully before he RSVP's to them. To not consider the possibility that with the wording of the invitiation as it was, attendees support for the mayor was implicit in their showing up to the event is just dumb. Though it seems not every official present at the breakfast was as oblivious as Hoenlein and others who might have felt that this event didn't imply support for the mayor:
Afterward, one official with a Jewish agency joked “we just lost our 501[c]3.” He was referring to the tax-exempt code for a nonprofit.

11 Comments:

Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

It's a ridiculous piece. Or a ridiculous complaint. Isn't there a distinction between individuals and orgs? Can't a rabbi not give his own money or support to a candidate? The website said "1,200 members of the Jewish community" not "leading Jewish groups".

12:46 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Yes, and the invitation was clear that the event was for those supporting the mayor. I'm not sure if the piece is ridiculous, or as you say, Hoenlein is ridiculous for making this complaint ex post facto.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow you cant stand that paper, can you?

1:08 PM  
Blogger Jewish Blogmeister said...

Great post! Who can stand the NYT? It's the news that's fit to wrap fish in...

1:28 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Anonymous said...

wow you cant stand that paper, can you?

That's an unfair characterization. I just can't stand the fact that they so often practice shoddy journalism. I cite their articles in a nonnegative manner as well, when I feel that they are up to journalistic snuff.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Who wraps fish anymore?

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typical Hoenlein. Wants to have his cake and eat it too.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

Hoenlein has been playing conservative politics at the edge for awhile-he attended more GOP events at their convention than at the Dems one.
Proper behavior-I know of a story a 1/4 ago-a President of A Jewish Org. was invited to the White House just before the election along with other "Jewish Leaders" to discuss issues. It was explicitly stated non-political-nevertheless, the person refused to go-not that he was anti-Carter; but his attendance could be misconstrued as an endorsement of Carter, I believe, the person who refused to go voted for Carter-but as Jewish rep. he couldn't let himself even be misconstrued as engaging in a partisan election.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

im sure malcolm is just doing his usual - talking out of both sides of his mouth.

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