Rep. Mike McMahon (D-NY) is in full-on damage control mode this evening after the New York Observer revealed that an aide to his reelection campaign attempted to highlight an opponent’s out-of-district donor base with a list of donors entitled “Jewish Money Q2.”
The basic summary of the situation, from the Observer piece: McMahon’s finance director, who is Jewish, pored through the campaign finance reports from one of one of McMahon’s Republican opponents, former FBI agent Mike Grimm, and compiled a list of donors to who she claimed are Jewish to showcase money raised Grimm raised from outside the Staten Island, New York district. A spokesperson for McMahon’s campaign told the Observer the finance director labeled the donors Jewish because “she knows a lot of people in that community” and could, presumably, recognize their names.
“Where is Grimm’s money coming from,” Jennifer Nelson, McMahon’s campaign communications director told the paper. “There is a lot of Jewish money, a lot of money from people in Florida and Manhattan, retirees.”
The campaign provided “a list of over 80 names, a half-dozen of which in fact do hail from Staten Island, and a handful of others that list Brooklyn as home” on the “Grimm Jewish Money Q2” list provided to the Observer. Nelson “stressed” to the paper “that the point of compiling the list was not to show that Grimm had a lot of Jewish support, but that he had little support in the district.”
Not surprisingly, that’s not how Grimm saw it.
“The fact that a U.S. Congressman would separate out any group by religion or even by ethnicity is nothing short of outrageous,” he told the paper. “This goes beyond politics.”
After that, things moved fast, and in a predictable direction. The Observer posted the story around 5 PM on Thursday. By 7:05, McMahon told Politico he had fired Nelson and issued the following apology:
“These comments were entirely inappropriate and there is no place for this kind of behavior. I was outraged by these unfortunate remarks which were unauthorized and are in no way indicative of my beliefs or of my campaign. I am proud to represent an incredibly diverse community and to enjoy an incredibly diverse base of support. Any comments that could serve to divide our community along religious or ethnic lines have no place in our community or my campaign. I sincerely apologize for her comments, and as she has since been terminated from our campaign, there will be no such incidents in the future.”