Monday, April 9, 2007

Let the Fundraising Begin

Sestak's critics pointed out that one of his aides, Adeeba Al-Zaman, is the former communications director for the CAIR chapter in Philadelphia. She had helped him organize support in the Muslim community when he ran for election last year. She had then joined his congressional staff.
Sestak said Al-Zaman, without checking with him, had accepted the speaking invitation.
"Lots of people wanted me to fire her," he said.
But he did not.
While declining to say Al-Zaman had made a mistake, he said in the interview that he wished that she had talked to him first.
He said he wouldn't have accepted the invitation if he had known that the $50-per-person banquet was partly to raise money for CAIR.
He said he told CAIR that he would still attend, but only if it separated the fund-raising portion of the program from the portion at which he would speak. He said CAIR had done that.
Midway through the banquet, after Sestak's speech, CAIR officials abruptly announced that the fund-raising portion of the evening would begin.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus, president of the Philadelphia-area chapter of the Zionist Organization of America, said separating the program was just a fig leaf to cover up Sestak's help for CAIR in raising money.
"After they received heat, they changed it to look as if if were two different events," Marcus, a lawyer, said in an interview Friday. "It's at the same place, one right after another, which is ridiculous."
She said Sestak had "a right to speak to anyone he wants," but she added: "You don't go to a fund-raiser for a group that has a connection to terrorism."

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