On Wednesday, I wondered whether Rep. Bill Pascrell would condemn a dual-loyalty charge one of his prominent supporters used against backers of Pascrell’s primary opponent, Rep. Steve Rothman. Yesterday, one of Pascrell’s surrogates, former Rep. Herb Klein, issued a statement dismissing the controversy as a “distraction.” But as the Washington Jewish Week reports, Pascrell’s campaign has declined to condemn the dual-loyalty slur directly.
Here’s a portion of Klein’s statement, via the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo:
“The ongoing ‘controversy’ being laid at Bill Pascrell’s door as a result of an op-ed authored by someone not affiliated with the Pascrell campaign has proven to be a distraction from the issues confronting the 9th Congressional District’s Democratic voters,” Klein said.
The campaign’s response hasn’t satisfied Rep. Rothman. His spokesman Aaron Keyak issued the following statement:
Mr. Assaf is a supporter of and donor to Congressman Pascrell. We stand by our request that Congressman Pascrell disavow these attacks and ask his supporters to stop this harmful, dishonest, and bigoted rhetoric. Questioning Congressman Rothman’s loyalty to America is a serious charge. We are disappointed that Congressman Pascrell refuses to disavow his donor’s ridiculous and unfounded attack.
Pascrell has clashed with the pro-Israel community in the past, most recently when he signed onto the controversial “Gaza 54” letter, which was disproportionately critical of Israel.
Pascrell has also come under fire for facilitating Capitol Hill meetings for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that has refused to condemn terrorist groups like Hamas. In 2006, Pascrell praised the organization, saying, “I want to personally commend CAIR for its work on issues including civil liberties and opening dialogue with various communities in America.”
When I reached out to Pascrell’s spokesperson Sean Darcy today, he again refused to condemn the dual-loyalty charge, telling me the same thing the campaign reportedly told the Washington Jewish Week: “[Klein’s] statement speaks for itself.”