This is the week that John McCain and the Republicans will be throwing the kitchen sink at Barack Obama and the Democrats. It has reached a new low. An email that was sent to Jewish voters invoked fears of the Holocaust to stampede them away from Obama at the polls next week.
According to JTA, a global Jewish news service:
The e-mail, after extolling McCain's record and questioning U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's commitment to Israel -- as well as his associations with William Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright -- says that "Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008. Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let's not make a similar one this year."
The letter, which might have gone out to as many as 75,000 Jewish voters, was signed by three prominent Jewish Republicans, including former Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice Sandra Schultz Newman, and Philadelphia Federation of Greater Philadelphia former chairman I. Michael Coslov.
Democratic U.S. senator Bob Casey and Montgomery County Democratic state Rep. Josh Shapiro demanded Saturday that McCain speak to this outrage, as he has promised repeatedly on national television he would do if someone was doing things in his name that were not in keeping with his own point of view.
While McCain and the national campaign have yet to speak on the letter, when news of it hit the local media and MSNBC over the weekend, the Pennsylvania McCain campaign disavowed it.
"This individual never worked for our campaign and that sort of rhetoric has no place in it," said Paul Lindsay, a McCain-Palin spokesman.
According to various media sources, the author of the letter is a Jewish Republican political operative named Bryan G. Rudnick, president and CEO of Alliance Strategies Group (ASG) in Boca Raton, FLA. which his ZoomInfo.com bio identifies as a company which engages in "strategic planning, political consulting, and communications, with an emphasis on public relations and crisis management."
The AP reached Rudnick over the weekend, and reported:
Political consultant Bryan Rudnick was identified as the person responsible for it. Rudnick, reached Saturday night, confirmed that he no longer works for the party, which employed him a few weeks ago as a consultant to do outreach to Jewish voters.
"I had authorization from party officials" to send the e-mail, Rudnick said, but he declined to say who had signed off on it. "I'm not looking to drag anyone else through the mud, so I'm not naming names right now," he said.
Rudnick claimed he was a consultant for the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania, but no Federal Election Commission (FEC) documents within the last 90 days for the verify this. He was fired recently after a $5 million ad campaign for Let Freedom Ring that ran in mid-October in Georgia apparently backfired as well.
His client list, according to ASG's website, includes the Minutemen Project, the group that watches the border with Mexico, and Katherine Harris, the former U.S. Congresswoman and Florida Secretary of State who presided over the election fiasco in 2001.
A blogger named "Mrs Pantsteppon" at Talking Points Memo (TPM) researched Rudnick and has found:
"ASG handled a $5 million ad campaign for Let Freedom Ring that ran in mid-October. Let Freedom Ring is a rabid right wing 501(c)(4) almost entirely funded by John Templeton, son of the founder of Templeton Funds, who lives in West Chester PA.
Templeton, a major contributor to Swift Boat Vets, also contributed $800k to the College Republican National Committee within the last six months."
Rudnick claims to have "founded and served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage, a ballot committee organized to support the passage of the Massachusetts Protection of Marriage Amendment." He is a graduate of Valley Forge Military Academy and Brandeis. He lists notably the American Association of Political Consultants and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, as organizations to which he belongs.
The McCain campaign has been struggling to change polling numbers that suggest that Jewish voters now tend to favor Mr. Obama. The operative, who was described by the source as "too extreme" to be picked up by the local McCain camp in South Florida, has worked as a political operative for groups within the Republican Party.
Using a carpet-bagger operative is nothing new in politics. It allows the local campaign to disavow, while still reaping the benefit of engaging in the slimy scare tactics.
It would seem highly unlikely that the operative, who is a paid political consultant, was operating on his own. The reaction to his handiwork was mixed.
In the Philadelphia Jewish community, there appeared to be much consternation over the fact that Coslov signed on to the letter. Coslov is widely assumed to become the next federation president.
Some community leaders who are active Democrats called the letter "despicable." Republican partisans tended to brush it off as "politics as usual."
The Guardian reports that the email also threw in the kitchen sink catch-all of voter fraud;
The e-mail also alleged that presidential candidate Barack Obama taught members of a community group "to commit voter registration fraud."
The letter continued to beat the drum on Ayers and ACORN as well, working the Attwater/Rove theory that a lie told repeatedly takes on the air of truth.
The letter has caused reaction world-wide from here to the UK to Israel, but has barely made a dent in the American mainstream media.
I am told that the Republican operative who conducted the smear campaign is back in Florida. The question is: Where will he go next? As quickly as guys like this are "fired" they often find themselves back in another state in the dirty tricks game working business-as-usual.
Until the McCain campaign publicly repudiates the action, and the author, they are as liable for it as if John McCain or Sarah Palin wrote it themselves, in my opinion.