Norm Coleman (R) has taken a job with the Republican Jewish Coalition while contesting Democrat Al Franken’s lead in the Minnesota Senate race, his campaign confirmed Thursday.
In what could be seen as a sign that Coleman thinks his bid to return to the Senate may be lost, he has signed on to do consulting work for the group, which is comprised of a number GOP leaders.(emphasis added)
Many groups are talking about what this means for Coleman's efforts to regain his seat, and what it says about his hopes. You can find stuff about that here, here, and here.
Instead of working that angle, let's take a moment to look at the organization that Coleman now calls his home, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC).
First, this is an organization that has long been a friend of Norm Coleman, conveniently the DFL has outlined all of this in a memo, which shows that the RJC has financed over 13,000 dollars in trips for Norm Coleman:
January 31-February 2, 2003: In First Trip as Senator, Coleman Traveled from Washington, D.C. to Boca Raton, FL; Republican Jewish Coalition Paid $2,254. Less than two weeks after Coleman was sworn in, he took his first privately funded trip from Washington, D.C. to Boca Raton, Florida to be a guest speaker at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference. The Republican Jewish Coalition reimbursed Coleman for $1404.00 in transportation costs, $700.00 in lodging expenses and $150.000 in meal expenses. [Secretary of the Senate, Office of Public Records]
June 26-28, 2003: Coleman Traveled to Orange County and Los Angeles, CA; Orange County Republican Party of California and the Republican Jewish Coalition Paid $688.70. From June 26-28, 2003, Coleman traveled to Orange County and Los Angeles, CA to be the keynote speaker at a the Republican Party of Orange County event and two RJC events in Orange County and Los Angeles. The Orange County Republican Party of California and the Republican Jewish Coalition Paid $688.70 for Coleman’s lodging expenses. [Secretary of the Senate, Office of Public Records]
December 16-17, 2003: Coleman Traveled to New York, NY; Republican Jewish Coalition Paid $500. From December 16-17, 2003: Coleman traveled to New York City to be the keynote speaker at the Republican Jewish Coalition Hanukah event. The Republican Jewish Coalition reimbursed Coleman $200 for transportation and $300 for lodging expenses. [Secretary of the Senate, Office of Public Records]
February 19-21, 2004: Coleman Traveled to Palm Beach, FL; Republican Jewish Coalition Paid $555.40. From February 19-21, 2004, Coleman traveled to Palm Beach to be a guest speaker at the Republican Jewish Coalition winter meeting. The RJC reimbursed Coleman $405.40 for transportation and $150.00 for meal expenses. [Secretary of the Senate, Office of Public Records]
August 6-10, 2004: Coleman Traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel; Republican Jewish Coalition Paid $7,175. From August 6-10, 2004, Coleman traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel with the Republican Jewish Coalition. The RJC reimbursed Coleman $5,950 for transportation, $1,000 for lodging, and $225 for meal expenses. [Secretary of the Senate, Office of Public Records]
March 12, 2005: Coleman Traveled to West Palm Beach, FL; Republican Jewish Coalition Paid $515. On March 12, 2005, Coleman traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida to be the guest speaker for the Republican Jewish Coalition winter meeting. The RJC reimbursed Coleman $515 for transportation expenses. [Secretary of the Senate, Office of Public Records]
July 9-10, 2006: Coleman Traveled to Los Angeles, CA; Republican Jewish Coalition Paid $1,689.37. From July 9-10, 2006, Coleman traveled to Los Angeles to be the keynote speaker at RJC Annual summer Celebration. The RJC reimbursed Coleman for $1131.60 for transportation, $491.77 for lodging and $66.00 for meal expenses. [Secretary of the Senate Travel Records; Star Tribune, 1/21/06]
The group has a stated purpose which is not much in dispute:
We seek to foster and enhance ties between the American Jewish community and Republican decision makers. We work to sensitize Republican leadership in government and the party to the concerns and issues of the Jewish community, while articulating and advocating Republican ideas and policies within the Jewish community. We are committed to building a strong, effective and respected Jewish Republican voice in Washington and across the country.
The dispute lies in the methods that the RJC uses to pursue its failed goal of scaring Jewish voters to vote for Republican candidates.
On September 16, 2008, Salon.com, in collaboration with the Nation and other sites reported that the RJC commissioned a poll to test some very negative messages about Candidate Barack Obama, which some confused as a push-poll. From Salon:
This week, reports began bubbling up about Jewish voters in potential battleground states being called and asked to participate in a poll that featured some unusually negative questions about Barack Obama. Those reports were confirmed when The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn received a call. Now the Republican Jewish Coalition is taking responsibility for the survey.
Some observers -- including Cohn -- initially believed that what was happening is what's known as a push poll. Push polls aren't real polls; they're conducted by people who aren't interested in actually judging voters' opinion so much as they're interested in moving it, and use loaded questions to do so.
Certainly the questions used in this case seemed to have been designed with that in mind. For example, Cohn reported that he was asked whether it would affect his vote if he knew that "Obama has had a decade long relationship with pro-Palestinian leaders in Chicago" or if he knew that "the leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yousef, expressed support for Obama and his hope for Obama's victory."(emphasis added)
and from Tikun (9/19):
The Republican Jewish Coalition admits it funded at least 750 push poll calls to Jewish voters in swing states testing out which lies and smears would be most effective against Barack Obama. I’ve already reported the types of “questions” asked. But The Forward yesterday came up with a few new, and even more infamous ones. One caller asked how the voter would feel about Obama if he knew Mahmoud Ahmadinejad endorsed him; or if Obama’s advisors were “pro-Palestinian.”
This is also a group that flooded Jewish media with advertisements that used unfair and untrue implications such as the the following:
You can see more of these ads at the RJC website.
The RJC also attacked the famously pro-israel Joe Biden as being a risky candidate.
This is also a group that has smeared pro-Israeli democrats over and over.
This is the group that Norm Coleman has chosen to go to work for? Sounds like a good thing that Minnesotans chose Al Franken.