Category Archives: News & Photo Features

SGOTUS Emhoff at Holocaust Remembrance: US Joins Fight Against Hate, AntiSemitism

From the exhibit, “Auschwitz: Not long ago. Not far away” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, NYC, 2020. Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff had just visited Auschwitz, told a gathering the United States would renew alliances to combat hate and antisemitism. “Antisemitism has been around for millennia—and some call it the oldest form of hatred—but in recent years, it has been a growing threat in the United States, in Europe, and around the world.  We see ‘so-called’ leaders use antisemitic tropes to promote warped agendas or for their own political gain. .. We cannot normalize this. We must not stay silent.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

These are the remarks of Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff at a Roundtable on Combatting Antisemitism, held at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow, Poland:

SECOND GENTLEMAN DOUGLAS EMHOFF: Thank you all for being here. 

Thank you to the Galicia Jewish Museum for hosting us and to Director Jakub Nowakowski.

It’s really fitting to gather here today. The Museum aims to challenge stereotypes and to educate Poles and Jews about their own histories – my history. 

The Museum also encourages everyone to think about our shared future.

My trip to Poland and Germany has two main priorities: 

One: I am here not only to honor the victims of the Holocaust, but to talk about and educate people on the true nature of the Holocaust. 

Let’s be clear: the Holocaust was real. 

It happened. And there is no denying that. 

It was a systemic, state-sponsored mass murder aimed to annihilate the Jewish people. This atrocity was motivated by antisemitic ideology and ethnic hatred. 

This trip is a major part of our Administration’s effort to push back against Holocaust denial, distortion, and disinformation.  

Two: I am here as a representative of President Biden and my wife, Vice President Harris, to deepen our relationships with European partners — in and out of government — to combat the rise in antisemitism. 

The President and Vice President have made a priority of revitalizing our partnerships and alliances—and that extends to fighting hate and antisemitism.  

Yesterday, I visited Auschwitz and participated in the wreath laying and memorial service. The service was incredibly moving and powerful.

I am still trying to process what I saw. 

The magnitude of cruelty, hate, and evil that Auschwitz represents is just staggering. 

As the first Jewish spouse of a United States President or Vice President, I know this visit has a special significance — for me, for our Administration, and for Jews around the world. 

My great-grandparents fled persecution in Poland 120 years ago. I am here because they were able to leave. 

Yet, so many others were not. 

I feel a deep connection to all those who perished in Auschwitz. I know many American Jews feel the same way. 

It was an incredibly solemn and sad experience but, it also reminds us why the work we are doing is so important.

Given the rise in antisemitism, it is important for me — and for all of us — to put a spotlight on the history of Jews in Europe.

We know that in some cases knowledge about the Holocaust among young people is vague or nonexistent. 

We must find new ways to remember and educate the next generation about the horrors of the Holocaust. 

To tell the testimonies of survivors. 

To remember the stories of those that perished. 

And work to ensure “Never Again.”

This convening is a critical part of that. 

Antisemitism has been around for centuries. It is based on lies, misleading tropes, and falsehoods that we are all too familiar with. 

Antisemitism is also ever evolving. Our efforts to combat it must be wide-ranging and relentless. 

We must learn to recognize antisemitism in its many forms, so that we can call hate by its proper name and take effective action.

Antisemitism has been around for millennia—and some call it the oldest form of hatred—but in recent years, it has been a growing threat in the United States, in Europe, and around the world.  

We see ‘so-called’ leaders use antisemitic tropes to promote warped agendas or for their own political gain. 

We see other ‘so-called’ leaders who lack the courage to speak out.

We see murderous attacks on Jewish communities. 

We see vandalism, threats, and violent, hateful rhetoric.

People used to be afraid to say the ugly epithets and lies out loud. Now they are literally screaming them.

We are witnessing an epidemic of hate in our country and internationally. 

President Biden and Vice President Harris are firmly committed to countering the rise in global antisemitism.

In fact, before I left on this trip, I spoke to President Biden and the Vice President about it.

The President spoke to me about how his father spoke to him about the horrors of the Holocaust at his dining room table.

And how when he became a father and grandfather, he took his children and grandchildren to see the Dachau concentration camp. 

To teach the next generation the horrors of history.

The Vice President and I have spoken at length about these issues. She has spent her career—as Attorney General, United States Senator, and Vice President—combatting hate and working to bring people together in coalitions. 

And she has really encouraged me to use this platform to push back on the scourge of hate.

They both have told me how important this trip is.

We all need to speak out against antisemitism and call out those who don’t.

We cannot normalize this. We must not stay silent.

We each need to do our part to educate those around us and instill knowledge in the next generation of leaders to help fight antisemitism.

And we are committed to working with you all – community leaders, religious leaders, and experts to take this on. 

You all have done impressive work to promote tolerance, education, and inclusiveness. 

I am with you in this fight. 

So, on behalf of President Biden and Vice President Harris, it is my honor to join you here in Krakow today, and I am looking forward to our work together. Thank you.

See:

‘THE HOLOCAUST: WHAT HATE CAN DO’ AT MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE HOLDS LESSONS, WARNING FOR TODAY

GROUNDBREAKING EXHIBIT AT MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE TRANSPORTS TO ‘AUSCHWITZ: NOT LONG AGO. NOT FAR AWAY’

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Expands Access to Capital and Support for Small Businesses

Over the last two years Americans have applied to start 10.5 million new businesses, making 2021 and 2022 the strongest two years on record for new business applications. With unemployment at a record low and the two strongest years of job creation in our history, this is just the latest confirmation that the President’s economic plan is working to build our economy from the bottom up and middle out.  The Administration convened a roundtable with leaders across the small business space to discuss its commitment to ensuring small businesses have the access to the capital, technical assistance, and support they need to thrive. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

From its first day in office, the Biden-Harris Administration has focused on helping the nation’s businesses recover from the economic impact of the pandemic and grow. Last week, the Census Bureau released data that showed that over the last two years Americans have applied to start 10.5 million new businesses, making 2021 and 2022 the strongest two years on record for new business applications. With unemployment at a record low and the two strongest years of job creation in our history, this is just the latest confirmation that the President’s economic plan is working to build our economy from the bottom up and middle out. 
 
The Administration convened a roundtable with leaders across the small business space to discuss its commitment to ensuring small businesses have the access to the capital, technical assistance, and support they need to thrive. The Administration’s actions include:

Expanding Access to Capital:

Capital is vital for small businesses to start and grow. That’s why expanding access to capital, and making sure there are ample pathways to reach that capital, is a core pillar of the Administration’s agenda to support small businesses. To that end, the Administration is taking a number of steps:

  • Small Business Lending Company (SBLC) Proposed Rule. SBA is committed to meeting borrowers where they are by extending its program offerings to the lenders that underrepresented small businesses turn to for their capital needs. Currently, SBA works with these lenders in a number of ways. Non-bank private lenders are able to participate in the 7a program as guaranteed lenders by obtaining an SBLC license. Yet the number of SBLCs available has been capped at 14 since 1983. In addition, SBA licenses over 60 active CDFIs as lenders through the Community Advantage Pilot program. This proposed rule, if made final, would lift the moratorium on new 7a lending licenses allowing SBA to extend additional licenses to nonbank lenders and CDFIs. SBA would plan to add three licenses in the initial extension. In addition, it would open a path for Community Advantage program to become permanent. These steps would allow SBA to expand the pool of lenders that offer SBA-backed working capital loans to include those non-traditional institutions that have more expertise in meeting the needs of underserved small businesses.
     
  • Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Proposed Rule.  SBICs are privately owned and managed investment funds licensed and regulated by the SBA. An SBIC invests private capital and borrowed capital with an SBA guarantee to make long-term debt or equity investments in qualifying small businesses. Historically, the structure of interest payments on SBIC loans leads licensed funds to support later stage companies with predictable cash flow as opposed to early-stage companies. The proposed SBIC rule is intended to reduce barriers to program participation for new SBIC fund managers and funds investing in underserved communities and geographies, among other groups. The rule introduces a new class of SBIC license, “Accrual SBICs,” designed to unlock more patient capital financing for startups and small businesses through the SBA’s public – private partnership investment program, the SBIC program. It also implements SBIC program regulatory changes to lower financial, administrative, and procedural barriers to program participation for new fund managers and longer duration equity-oriented fund strategies. Finally, it modernizes the SBIC program license offering and process to align with a more diversified set of private funds investing in underserved and undercapitalized areas.
     
  • Lending Criteria, Affiliation, and Employee Ownership for SBA Business Loan Programs Proposed Rule: SBA is proposing to streamline and modernize various regulations governing its 7(a) and 504 loan programs. The proposed rule, if made final, would allow SBA lenders to underwrite SBA loans using their own standard processes which empowers lenders and opens a path for credit alternatives, significantly simplify affiliation rules which would reduce the processing burden on small business borrowers, and offer a path for employees to take ownership in a small business.
     
  • Implementing the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI): The Treasury Department has implemented the American Rescue Plan’s SSBCI which provides $10 billion to states, the District of Columbia, territories, and Tribal governments to expand access to capital for small businesses, build ecosystems of opportunity and entrepreneurship, and create new jobs and economic opportunity—especially in underserved communities still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. SSBCI provides funding for credit and investment programs for existing small businesses, and technical assistant to small businesses applying for SSBCI funding and other government small business programs. With a focus on equity and reaching underserved communities, SSBCI allocates $2.5 billion in funding and incentives for businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. These federal investments are designed to catalyze $10 of small business lending and investment for every $1 of SSBCI funding which will result in tens of billions of new small business financing across the country before 2030.


Making Historic Investments in Support Services for Small Businesses:

The Administration is focused on meeting small businesses owners where they are and offering extensive support services to navigate available programs. It’s not enough to just provide funding and loans; small businesses need to be able to utilize them as well. This Administration has made historic investments in support services for small businesses. That includes:

  • Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP).  In 2022, Treasury closed and funded approximately $8.38 billion in investments with 170 institutions through ECIP. ECIP investments are supporting the efforts of community financial institutions to provide loans, grants, and other assistance to small and minority-owned businesses and consumers, especially in low-income and financially underserved communities that struggled during the pandemic.
     
  • Wide Ranging Investments by the CDFI Fund. In 2022, the CDFI Fund deployed significant funds to provide capital to traditionally underserved communities including $5 billion in New Market Tax Credit allocations, $355 million under the Bond Guarantee program, and more than $580 million in other grant programs. Last fall, the CDFI Fund released the notice of funding availability for the $1.75 billion CDFI Equitable Recovery Program, aimed at providing funding to CDFIs expanding lending in communities that have significant unmet capital needs, and received almost 700 applications.
     
  • Providing SSBCI Technical Assistance: As a critical element of the $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative, Treasury has announced the availability of $200 million specifically to support small business technical assistance for states, the District of Columbia, territories, and Tribal governments that are participating in SSBCI. Treasury has also announced a nearly $100 million Capital Readiness Program, a grant program funded as part of SSBCI to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs that will be administered by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the Department of Commerce. 
     
  • SBA Community Navigators Program: In 2021, SBA awarded a $100 million in grant funding to organizations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico that are working to close resource gaps for U.S small businesses and those in underserved and underrepresented communities. The program offers funding to nonprofits, state and local governments, universities, and tribal entities that serve as “hub” organizations. These hubs have established ties with hundreds of “spoke” organizations—trusted, culturally knowledgeable, local groups and individuals— who they support to increase awareness and connections to federal, state, and local resources. The program was designed to advance equity through its priority focus on socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses, rural communities, and small businesses owned by women and veterans. As of August 2022, Community Navigators have helped secure over $133 million in funding, trained over 170,00 business owners, and provided over 30,000 hours of 1:1 counseling.


Improving Agency Services and Coordination:

This Administration is committed to continuing to improve upon the programs and services that are already provided. To that end, the Administration is taking the following steps:

  • Improving SBA’s Lender Match: SBA will implement significant technological improvements to its small business borrower and lender marketplace tool, Lender Match. This improved version of Lender Match will provide an enhanced landing page to match small business borrowers with SBA lenders and offer the option to be taken through the entire loan process. It will offer automated tools for lenders to streamline underwriting, make the use of credit alternatives more common place, and offer an automated eligibility module to make SBA lending lower risk and lower cost. Additionally, Lender Match’s automated offerings will enable SBA to better fight fraud via increased use of data and automated protocols for SBA-backed loans.
  • Interagency Community Investment Committee (ICIC): In July, Vice President Harris announced the formation of the Interagency Community Investment Committee (ICIC) chaired by the Treasury Department. The ICIC facilitates collaboration and operational coordination of federal community investments to maximize the impact of federal dollars. Last fall, they released a request for information to gather input on how to improve the effectiveness and impact of federal community investment programs and will continue to provide a forum for continued interagency cooperation to support underserved communities, especially when it comes to community investment and access to capital.

House Republicans MAGA Economic Plan: Raise Taxes, Increase Costs for MidClass, Protect Rich Tax Cheats, Cut Social Security & Medicare. Also: Crash the Economy & Full Faith & Credit of US

U.S. Treasury Building. The House Republicans MAGA economic plan would in a nutshell raise taxes on the middle class, increase costs for the middle class (how about a 30% sales tax on everything from groceries to gas, while credit card and mortgage rates go through the roof), protect rich tax cheats, cut Social Security & Medicare, and while they’re at it, crash the economy and full faith & credit of the U.S. by refusing the raise the debt limit © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Think about why Republicans would have as their singular policy to destroy the United States economy – threaten, even actually refuse to raise the debt ceiling which will destroy the nation’s “full faith and credit”, unleash higher interest rates (cost), inflict untold pain and suffering on working people and derail the American Dream for countless millions, while coddling the richest 1% by going after the IRS and law enforcement. It’s not just to secure campaign funding and show their obeisance to their masters: they think that if they destroy the economy, unleash suffering, and, if more than two decades of history are the example, that the masses will blame Joe Biden and the Democrats (after all, they control the White house and Senate), so they will win the 2024 elections.

Republicans used fraud to win the midterms and take over the House, pretending they cared about inflation and crime, when in just these first days of their rule, their first acts have been to further erode civil rights, especially women’s reproductive rights, raise costs, worsen the national debt, harm public safety. After all, you don’t hear any Republican crow about how gas prices have fallen to pre-Putin levels and inflation rates have fallen to lowest level since March 2020, meanwhile, Speaker McCarthy put insurrectionists including Marjorie Taylor Greene on the Homeland Security Committee and fraudster George Santos on the Small Business Committee and Space, Science, and Technology, and kicked Adam Schiff off Intelligence And so much worse is to come.  Just how destructive is the Republican economic agenda? If the debt ceiling is not raised and the nation’s credit rating falls, interest rates will rise, the cost of everything will go up, people will lose jobs, houses, and there will be less tax revenue flowing into the government, more money flowing out, and the national debt will only get worse. The White House issued this memo:–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

House Republican MAGA Economic Plan: Raise Taxes and Increase Costs for the Middle Class, Protect Rich Tax Cheats, and Cut Social Security & Medicare

House Republicans had a busy first week in the majority. Under President Biden’s leadership and economic plan, we just finished the best two years of job growth on record, inflation has been coming down for six straight months, gas prices are down around $1.70 from their summer peak, and President Biden’s plan to lower prescription drug costs and energy costs is going into effect. 

House Republicans have a very different economic plan: make inflation worse, protect rich tax cheats, increase the deficit, raise taxes on middle-class families, and cut Social Security and Medicare. In their first week, they wasted no time in moving forward on these priorities:

  1. Increasing Gas Prices: The new House Republican majority has proposed and will soon consider a bill that would raise gas prices and deprive Americans of relief at the pump when supply is most needed by restricting the ability to release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. After global oil prices skyrocketed because of Putin’s invasion, the President successfully used the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in 2022 to expand supply that helped lower gas prices for families here at home – while laying the groundwork to refill at a profit to taxpayers in the future. But House Republicans want to tie Presidents’ hands and hamstring one of the best supply tools we have to protect Americans from disruptions that spike gas prices.
  1. Protecting Rich Tax Cheats:: Working people pay 99% of the taxes they owe, while the top 1 percent hides about 20% of their income from tax, including by funneling it through offshore accounts in tax havens that don’t report earnings. The President and Congressional Democrats passed legislation to make the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share, including by preventing them from cheating on the taxes they already owe.

For their very first bill, House Republicans voted last week to repeal that provision and let some super-wealthy people pay less in taxes than many hard-working Americans – including through outright tax fraud.

In addition to protecting rich tax cheats, the bill adds to the deficit. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it increases the deficit by nearly $115 billion by enabling wealthy tax cheats to engage in additional tax fraud and avoidance. And for ordinary middle-class people who follow the law, it would mean longer waits for tax refunds. Lose-lose for working families.

  1. Raising Taxes on the Middle-Class and Cutting Taxes on the Richest Americans with a New National Sales Tax: According to public reporting, Speaker McCarthy has agreed to bring to the floor a bill that would repeal most existing taxes and impose a new 23% national sales tax on American families. The bill would cover almost all goods and services purchases – from groceries and gas to food and medicine.

Non-partisan experts across the ideological spectrum agree this proposal would raise taxes for middle-class Americans and slash them for the wealthy, while President George W. Bush’s Treasury Department analyzed a similar proposal and found it would raise taxes by thousands of dollars each year for typical middle-class families; the burden would likely be especially great for seniors and families with children. Meanwhile, people earning millions of dollars a year would see tax cuts of $100,000 or more. 

  1. Cutting Social Security and Medicare: President Biden has made clear that Congress must deal with the debt limit and they must do so without conditions. But Congressional Republicans continue to threaten to hold the nation’s full faith and credit hostage to their demands for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid cuts, and cuts to the part of the budget that funds scientific and medical research, education, consumer protection, and other basic services – even  as business leaders, economists, and other experts continue to warn about the costs of their brinksmanship for the U.S. economy. 

Meanwhile, militant Republicans like Rep. Andy Biggs are calling for the U.S. to default on its debt obligations (spending that has already been approved by Congress and spent), by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. But rather than cut spending, it would mean chaos, collapse, and catastrophe for the U.S. and a windfall for China, and at the same time RAISE costs and the national debt because interest rates would skyrocket, 6 million would lose their jobs, requiring more unemployment and social services.

Rep. Andy Biggs says outright, “We cannot raise the debt ceiling. Democrats have carelessly spent our taxpayer money and devalued our currency. They’ve made their bed, so they must lie in it.”

This is a stunning and unacceptable position that would lead to economic chaos, collapse, and catastrophe. And in so doing it would give our competitors, like China, an historic leg up in overtaking the American economy.

In line with every major outlet, CNN warned yesterday that failing to lift the debt ceiling would “tank the financial markets, suspend Social Security payments to senior citizens, hurt the economy and cause other chaos.”

Leading congressional Republicans have themselves admitted in the past that default would trigger an economic collapse, killing millions of jobs and decimating 401k plans. That’s why they voted to raise the debt ceiling without brinkmanship 3 times during the Trump Administration – with strong bipartisan support from their Democratic colleagues.

But hardline MAGA Republicans are now advocating for this outcome. This is despite President Biden having achieved unprecedented deficit reduction and despite House Republicans’ supports for tax giveaways to the rich that put trillions on the nation’s credit card.

Other congressional Republicans intend to use the debt limit to force an economic meltdown unless they can cut Medicare and Social Security, directly against the will of a bipartisan majority of the country.

“Rep. Biggs is dead wrong to actively support the ruin of millions of American livelihoods, 401k plans, and small businesses, all in the name of scorched earth partisanship,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates. “Default would needlessly plunge the country into economic chaos, collapse, and catastrophe while giving our competitors like China an historic boost against us. That’s why congressional Republicans – with strong bipartisan support from Democrats – avoided default 3 times under Donald Trump, without conditions or playing chicken with our credit rating. This president and the American people will not stand for unprecedented economic vandalism. Full stop.”

Be reminded: Trump added $7.4 TRILLION to the national debt in just 4 years – that 25% (one-fourth) of the total debt of nearly 250 years. Much of that was before pandemic, largely caused by the $2 trillion giveaway to the wealthiest and to the biggest corporations. 50 corporations, with a combined $50 billion in profit paid zero tax. It’s estimated that the wealthiest hide 20 percent of their taxable wealth.

Activists Continue to Step Up Pressure to Force Santos Out of Congress

Rep. Ritchie Torres, who has introduced the SANTOS Act, comes to Great Neck to show support for the Concerned Citizens of NY Congressional District 3 efforts to have George Santos expelled from Congress. Torres is asking the FEC to investigate Santos’ web of campaign finance entanglements © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Against a drip, drip, drip of new sensational scandals involving George Santos, and the continuing campaign to pressure on George Santos to resign or Speaker Kevin McCarthy to hold a vote to expel, Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15) joined Concerned Citizens of NY-03 in Great Neck to demand the Federal Election Commission launch an investigation into potential illegal activity and irregularities surrounding his campaign finances.

Torres, the Bronx Democrat who introduced the SANTOS Act which would punish candidates who knowingly lie to voters about their background, outlined a web of incestuous relationships between Santos’ campaign, the Devolder Organization, Redstone Strategies and NY Rising.

“Given what we know through public reporting, it is outrageous to me that Mr. Santos was even allowed to be sworn in officially as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Rep. Torres. “But now, there are serious questions that need to be answered surrounding the way in which he supposedly financed his illegitimate campaign for elected office that was built on a web of deception encompassing nearly every facet of his professional and personal life. The American people – and the people of New York’s third congressional district – deserve to be represented by someone who will serve them with honesty, transparency, and integrity. Rep. Santos has proven himself to be not only a habitual liar who’s supremely unqualified to be serving in Congress, but someone who desperately needs to be held accountable for breaking the public’s trust and potentially breaking the law.”

In a letter sent to the chair of the FEC, Rep. Torres requests an investigation into the questionable relationship between Rep. Santos’s campaign and RedStone Strategies, an unregistered fundraising entity whose apparent practices on behalf of the Santos campaign might have contributed to multiple violations of the Federal Election Campaigns Act (FECA) as reported recently by the New York Times.

Rep. Torres was joined in his calls for an FEC investigation by members of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, a new nonpartisan group of residents organized around the sole mission of upholding congressional integrity and having Rep. Santos removed from office.

Rep. Ritchie Torres with Jody Kass Finkel and the steering committee of the Concerned Citizens of NY Congressional District 3 who are working to replace George Santos with an effective representative © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are delighted that Rep. Ritchie Torres accepted our invitation to visit NY-03 so we can thank him for his leadership and encourage the FEC to take action to hold Rep. Santos accountable,” said Jody Kass Finkel, founder of Concerned Citizens of NY-03.

“It’s a shame that Speaker Kevin McCarthy thinks it is okay for the more than 700,000 people who live in this district to have no legitimate representation. Rep. Torres understands how insulting it is for us to be told to ‘Live with it. Get over it. Your voice does not matter.’ We will not be silent and deserve to have a representative who tells us the truth. We look forward to our ongoing collaboration with Rep. Torres to deliver accountability for the people of this district and to finally get Santos the squatter evicted from office once and for all.”

The call for an FEC investigation is just the latest action Rep. Torres has taken to hold Rep. Santos accountable for his growing web of deception that is currently the subject of multiple law enforcement investigations. He previously filed an official complaint against him with the House Ethics Committee and is continuing to demand that Republican House leadership publicly explain what they knew and when about Santos’s seemingly never-ending trail of lies.

Rep. Torres is also sponsoring new legislation that would punish candidates for federal office who knowingly lie to voters about their background.

Meanwhile, Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who was one of the first to demand the U.S. Attorney investigate Santos’ fraudulent campaign finances and disclosures, is now calling for the Department of Homeland Security to revoke Santos’ passport, deeming Santos a high-profile “flight risk”.

Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan delivers letter to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, calling for an investigation into George Santos potential crimes regarding his finances and campaign disclosures. Now, with Santos under investigation by federal, state, local and Brazilian authorities, he is calling on Homeland Security to revoke Santos’ passport as a flight risk © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“While local, state, and federal prosecutors approach potential indictments against George Santos, international authorities in Brazil have also reopened his criminal case. Given Mr. Santos potentially faces years in prison, there is significant concern that he may eventually seek safe harbor within a country lacking an extradition treaty with the U.S.,” Lazafan stated.

Kevin McCarthy who needed Santos’ vote to fulfill his dream of becoming Speaker and is too fearful to see his margin be whittled down to four, said it would be up to NY3rd constituents to remove Santos (that is, in 2024), while  3rd District constituents continue to rally, protest, petition, calling for Congress to expel Santos.

McCarthy made clear that he values politics and power, not ethics or care to serve the interests of the people, as his Golden Rule. It is almost as if McCarthy has nothing but disdain for actual representation. The whole is more than the sum of its parts, in this case, the Republican caucus, and the ends justify the means. Which makes his Republican caucus’ obsession with investigating Hunter Biden, everything Biden, the January 6 investigators, the FBI all the more shameless and hypocritical.

McCarthy has been careful to bolster Santos, especially because Santos provided the key vote to fulfill his ambition to become Speaker, and has dismissed every allegation, even that a Santos fundraiser impersonated McCarthy’s own aide to stir up donations, with the claim that the investigations have to play out, that everyone deserves due process – expecting the process to last through a two-year Congressional term (just look at the January 6 prosecutions).

“We are here as one to express our anger, frustration. We stand together united to demand Santos resign,” Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic candidate for Congress who Santos defeated, declared at a protest in front of what newly elected Congressman George Santos asserts is his Queens office © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And in a big middle finger to the district, the nation, and the institution, McCarthy decided to appoint Santos to two committees: the Small Business committee (because he’s such a genius at “investing in himself” to go from $55,000 to millions of dollars overnight) and the Committee on Space, Science and Technology (where he can do Trump’s bidding and stick it to social media giants, vote to rescind funding for research and development, for renewable energy).

That prompted some to suggest another path for removing Santos: Get every chamber of commerce to start letter writing campaign to have him removed. He can’t represent their interest because of his deceit in everything including his own business.

McCarthy chose to give Santos two important committee assignments despite the precedent of a member under a cloud of investigation being removed from a committee while it plays out, and despite the level of intensity against Santos, who has been referred to the house Ethics committee and the outside, independent committee on Ethics, even as he is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney, New York Attorney General, Nassau County and Queens County district attorneys and the Federal Election Commission.

“This is an extraordinary vote of confidence by McCarthy in Santos,” noted NBC’s senior Capitol Hill correspondent Garrett Haake.

“What do you say to those around here who depend on government to protect their version of the American Dream? Resigning is the way to preserve the American Dream,” youth activist Greg Leung of Great Neck said at a rally in December at the Nassau County courthouse © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Think about it: this fraudster whose real resume includes working for a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $17 million, is in a position to affect small business funding (think PPP). And as a member of the Space, Science & Technology committee, he is in a position to extort “campaign” funding from Big Tech in exchange for favorable or unfavorable policies on the social media giants, Elon Musk’s Tesla and Space X, and every institution wanting to get funding for research and development.

Meanwhile, local Republicans have tried to insulate themselves from Santos’ stain on their election prospects by calling for him to resign (knowing that won’t happen), and saying they will refuse to work with him, which will cost the district millions of dollars in federal aid that an effective Congressmember with integrity can bring home.

Besides the $174,000 salary plus per diems for being a Congressman – the most this deadbeat has ever seen – campaign donations present an irresistible bottomless piggybank. He is a vulnerable target for bribery, blackmail and extortion, and a national security risk.

“My message to Santos: this will not end well for you. Resign to end this nightmare for the nation and the 3rd district, denied representation they deserve,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15), with Concerned Citizens of NY Congressional District 3.

“This country never had imposter seated in Congress before, and with ties to Russian oligarch and questionable finances,” Jody Kass Finkel said at the press conference with Torres. “Santos deceived voters. A liar, cheater, probably criminal. We deserve real representative, not a charlatan. McCarthy insults the 700,000 district residents by [ignoring Santos scandal], instead, says, “Live with it, get over it.

“Well, we aren’t… We understand McCarthy has a narrow majority, but the Speaker does damage to our representative form of government, to our democracy. He says he cares about voter fraud. How about the fraud perpetrated on 700,000 people of district.”

What is McCarthy afraid of, she wondered. “Recent elections show NY3 is competitive, if a free and fair election. But if Santos doesn’t pull out, we lose. How hard will it be for Republican to win a seat after two years of drip, drip revelations, or any Republican for any seat?”

“There are 535 in Congress. Of the 535, no one poses greater threat to integrity of Congress as institution than Santos,” Torres declared.

“My message to Santos: this will not end well for you. Resign to end this nightmare for the nation and the 3rd district, denied representation they deserve.”

Santos, he said, either resigns under the weight of scrutiny or a plea bargain with the U.S. Attorney. “He knows he is facing local, state, federal and international investigations. The one that will be the quickest is the US Attorney.

“Stop perpetuating suffering and humiliation of constituents. Allow someone capable of serving in government to step in.”

See also:

Santos Likely Will Cost NY3 Millions of Dollars in Lost Federal Aid, Congress Even More

NY3 Constituents Protest at George Santos’ Queens Office Demanding He Resign; Call for Investigation, Special Election

NY 3rd Constituents Rally to Demand Disgraced Republican Congressman-Elect George Santos Resign

Constituents Call for Federal Investigation into Crimes Arising from George Santos Campaign

Viewpoint: Who owns George Santos? That is the question

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© 2023 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email [email protected]. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

NY’s AG James at Long Island Synagogue Where MLK Preached: ‘We Stand United Against Hate, Bigotry’

Closing out the annual MLK Shabbat service at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, Long Island, keynote speaker New York State Attorney General Letitia James joins Rabbi A. Brian Stoller, Cantor Adam Davis, Conductor Nigel Gretton and the choir to sing “We Shall Overcome.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, Long Island, New York, has long been an social justice and civil rights activist, and for more than 25 years, has hosted a Martin Luther King Shabbat Service. Indeed, Martin Luther King Jr., himself, addressed Temple Beth-El congregation from this pulpit 56 years ago.

“We do this service every year not merely to remember an historical event—as though it were a moment, or a series of moments, that occurred once and are now fossilized in time,” said Rabbi A. Brian Stoller. “If that were the case, we could simply read about it in history books as a matter of curiosity. We come together at sacred moments like this, year after year, to translate history into present and future.”

It is fitting that the MLK Shabbat Service happens to come when the Torah reading for Jews everywhere begins reading the book of Exodus, the story of how Moses led his people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Milk and Honey.

Attorney General Letitia James gave the keynote. Here are highlights from her remarks:

The greatest honor and sign of respect is to be invited into another’s place of worship – this is a holy place. So many others have spoken here. I am  honored and privileged to say a few words this evening, and be welcomed to your sanctuary. You can never take that for granted – many places in world, even in this country to have Jews, Christians, blacks, whites, young, old, coming together for most basic ritual we do.

That we are all together tonight, cannot be overstated – to pray, for spiritual enrichment, to summon God, to commemorate freedom from bondage and commemorate creation.

We all know someone who gave up something to be here – who sacrificed lives – parent/grandparents, survived Holocaust, pograms – perhaps we have some here this evening.

Our ancestors enslaved in Egypt, Europe and here in America – our ancestors fought for our right to be here- standing up to their oppressors, taking risks, protesting injustice.

It feels fitting that we receive that message from Torah this week, the week we honor the life, legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. – the person we most credit for the fight for civil rights, the quest for freedom.One of the most influential figures to enter history.

There were two midwives who engaged in the first recorded instance of civil disobedience: the new pharaoh decreed Jewish people were now slaves, midwives should kill their baby boys when they were born. But Shiphrah and Puah refused, feared doing something immortal more than they feared the pharaoh – midwives do what they do because that’s what a human being is supposed to do.

Pharoah continued to enslave the Jewish people for [400] years to come – but acts paved the way for Pharaoh’s daughter to take Moses from the river to nurture. Moses, who ultimately freed the Jewish people and lead them to the promised land.

We should learn from these midwives and pharoah’s daughter that when faced [with evil], even if means disobeying the rules, angering those who are powerful, [when called to do the right thing] the answer is simple, the answer is yes.

Dr. King led movement of ordinary people fed up with the injustices of society, savage inequities, who refused to move to the back of the bus, refused to leave the lunch counter, attend inferior schools, live in uninhabitable housing, but who could not exercise most basic right, right to vote.

He had hope for a better society [and that people would come forward like] Shiphrah and Puah, who marched with Dr King.

56 years ago Dr. King was here at this congregation, speaking of his vision that one day would live in harmony. He had two versions: “One is a beautiful America, where there is the milk of opportunity and the honey of equality. There is another America where the daily ugliness has transformed the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair.”

NYS Attorney General Letitia James at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck for the annual MLK Shabbat Service: “I will stand with you …there is no space between us, to move our nation closer to the vision that Dr King had for all of us, because we, my friends, are all children of his dream, and that dream must live on. His legacy deserves it, we deserve it, so do our children.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We made progress but much more to do – there are many pharaohs who stand in our way, who try to push us down, drag us backwards – too many who would take advantage of the most vulnerable to line their pockets, who spread hate, who separate us by race and artificial constructs.

It can feel like we are in the eye of moral crisis. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by hate and bigotry that continues to spread in America. I am sure I am not alone.

It is overwhelming when we read of acts of antisemitism every day, see shocking videos of bigoted, deadly assaults against our fellow citizens, even worse, when we see children commit these acts of hate. Children should know better, should be taught to respect and love. . These individuals who engage in these deadly assaults simply because of racial, ethnic, religious differences, we must confront them, even if they are our neighbors, even if they look like us, we’ve got to confront them.

It can be all consuming to know white supremacists and their ideas are allowed to breed, fester in darkest corners of internet and basements, leading to Nazis in Charlottesville, and evil individuals targeting our houses of worship, like Mother Emanuel in Charleston, Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, a grocery store named Topps in Buffalo.

We can feel paralyzed by widespread attacks on fundamental rights, not knowing how to turn and respond, even as I stand before you, watching nationwide effort to deny us our voting rights, wystemic dismantling of hard fought civil rights gained at the Supreme Court, and efforts around the country to erase the Black and Jewish experience from textbooks, Diversity, inclusion at elementary schools, college campuses, workplaces.

Through it all, we find comfort that those who have seen ugly face of hate – women, Jews, Blacks, Asian, LBGTQ – understand we all carry the responsibility of standing up to it, have a special charge to show up and stand up for one another.

As an African American, I have responsibility to speak out against antisemitism, not just allow only the Jewish community to speak out, just as Martin Luther King reminded us that though it was illegal to aid and comfort Jews in Hitler’s Germany, but had he lived in Germany then, he would have aided Jewish brothers and sisters, even if it were illegal.

We have a responsibility to stand up taller, speak louder, act more deliberately, and if history is any guide for the future, we have so much to be hopeful about.

Jews and blacks have a long history that is intertwined – hands that made bricks without straw, joining with the hands that picked cotton, the hands of drum majors for justice, righteousness, all of us.

So many times in history, there were Jews who disobeyed the rules because they knew how wrong the rules were – this is what should be taught.

Far back, it was Jewish merchants in the South who would address Blacks as Mr. and Mrs., who would allow Black customers to enter the front door, not the back.

And Jewish leaders were some of earliest supporters of groundbreaking organizations and Jewish philanthropists like Julius Rosenthal [along with Henry Moscowitz, Lillian Wald, and Rabbis Emil Hirsh and Stephen Wise who in 1909] founded the NAACP and created the first HBUC schools like Howard University School of Law – because he believed that Black children should have the same opportunity as white children

And when the fight for freedom hit the Supreme Court, it was research by American Jewish Committee and the Anti Defamation League, and American Jewish Congress that helped prevail – and all that was done in the halls of Howard University, where Blacks and Jews together came up with the winning legal strategy to overcome segregation in this nation.

During the 1960s, it was Jews [like Rabbi Walter Plaut of Temple Emanuel in Great Neck] who rode freedom buses in the South, stayed in humble homes, marched in Selma, Birmingham, and they died too.

Blood scattered all over the South. No one said Black blood, Jewish blood, just blood of those who died for what was right.

They worked voter registration drives because they believed the color of your skin didn’t make you more or, less of a person. Everyone’s voice should be equal.

It would have been easier, safer to follow the rules, stay home, stay silent, but no, the Torah teaches you that the moral imperative is to act – far greater than following the rules.

[As one who rarely follows rules I know] they knew consequences in face of such hateful aggressors but they acted anyway.

In 1963, at the March on Washington, before MLK delivered the “I have dream” speech, Rabbi [Joachim] Prinz  [President of the American Jewish Congress] spoke, saying, “When I was the Rabbi of the Jewish community of Berlin under Hitler, I learned many things, most important was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem, the most urgent and the most disgraceful, shameful, tragic problem is silence.”

Just months before, while Martin Luther King was sitting in a Birmingham jail, arrested for participating in civil rights demonstration, he wrote, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Some 60 years later, the good people are making their voices heard. The moral arc of universe is long but bends toward justice.

Continue to carry Dr King’s fight through 2023 and beyond.

Stand up for what we believe in, fighting back against those forces that seek to deny and divide us, committing to forward progress and being responsible to do right thing even when the odds are stacked against; breaking the rules that never should have been rules in the first place.

MLK had the audacity to stand up for the moral compass of our society.

Even though I may have my moments of doubt, sadness, I remain overwhelmingly hopeful, buoyed by progress we have made.

Just think: regardless of your politics tonight, when you see the son of a black woman who picked cotton, and the grandson of Jewish immigrants, standing together [as U.S.Senators] in a state in the cradle of Deep South, that’s progress.

When leaders of Democratic party in the Congress are Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries that’s progress.

And I am hopeful the cries for justice and equality are too loud, too strong and too diverse to be silenced or ignored, we march with millions of feet for progress cannot be ignored not now, or ever.

I am hopeful love, acceptance, inclusion will always push out hate, darkness, that these will be the ideals you pass along to your children…Teach them the beauty of all God’s children, that silence in face of hate and discrimination simply cannot be.

And God’s love, ah, god’s love knows no race, or ethnicity, that we are all covered by his grace and mercy.

I am hopeful because of people like all of you in this room – seeing that spark that ignites the fires of change, always simmering but never fully flamed throughout our nation’s history.

 I am thankful this temple would embrace this woman, who believes in change, and fights each and every day for progress..

56 years ago you welcomed Dr King to your congregation at a time when people still feared each other and when many questioned Dr King’s intentions.

This congregation knew painfully well what was at stake and the heavy toll of silence…

In the beautiful words of your executive director, Stuart Botwinick, “Jews have a special responsibility to hold up and support those who are held down, and we continue till this day to look towards equality and civil rights, do our part to lift people up.”

All of you are essential to make progress possible, when it comes to fight the ugly face of discrimination…

I will stand with you …there is no space between us, to move our nation closer to the vision that Dr King had for all of us, because we, my friends, are all children of his dream, and that dream must live on. His legacy deserves it, we deserve it, so do our children…Let’s pray and keep the dream alive.

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© 2023 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email [email protected]. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Nassau Republicans Stand Together in Calling for George Santos to Resign from Congress

Days after Congressman George Santos was inducted as a united States Congressman for NY’s 3rd Congressional District, Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph G. Cairo, Jr., along with dozens of Nassau GOP elected officials and candidates, condemned Santos for his lies, dishonesty, hurtful misstatements and false claims, and called on Santos to resign © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Offering a kind of mea culpa and looking contrite, Nassau County Republicans stood united in calling for now-Congressman George Santos to resign, condemning Santos for his dishonesty foisted upon voters of the 3rd Congressional District to win election.

The action was viewed as reputational damage control to bolster Republican candidates in upcoming elections.

But aside from declaring that none of them – at the village, town, city, county or state level – would work with Santos and declaring him a person non grata at Republican events (fundraisers), Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph G. Cairo Jr., said there was little they could do. to force Santos out Cairo said he had attempted to call now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (whose election was secured by Santos’ vote), but had yet to receive a reply.

“The people of the 3rd Congressional District deserve a Congressional Representative who is honest and forthright. George Santos is not such a person. It’s time for George Santos to resign his seat in the House of Representatives. He has no place in the Nassau County Republican Committee, he’s not welcome here,” declared Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph G. Cairo, Jr. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“George Santos has disgraced the House of Representatives and the Republican Party with a veritable profusion of lies, dishonesty, misstatements and hurtful false claims,” Cairo declared. “The people of the 3rd Congressional District deserve a Congressional Representative who is honest and forthright. George Santos is not such a person. It’s time for George Santos to resign his seat in the House of Representatives. He has no place in the Nassau County Republican Committee, he’s not welcome here.”

But Santos remained defiant, tweeting as the press conference was still underway, “I was elected to serve the people of #NY03 not the party & politicians, I remain committed to doing that and regret to hear that local officials refuse to work with my office to deliver results to keep our community safe and lower the cost of living. I will NOT resign!”

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said she was duped into giving Santos her endorsement., “He betrayed the public trust. He is incapable and unwilling to take responsibility for his lies. There’s no way he can be an effective member of Congress.”

Congressman Anthony D’Esposito, who represents the neighboring district, stated, “Santos violated the trust of voters and people across America.” He offered to help 3rd District constituents on the matters that, according to House rules, have to be handled by a Congressman.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who just a few weeks ago, had Santos stand alongside as he gave a proclamation to Ukraine’s General Consul, spoke up for the people of the district who are “legitimately Jews” and those who are Holocaust survivors or their descendents. “For him to make up a story that his grandparents survived the Holocaust is beyond the pale.”

“George Santos is clearly not capable of providing the integrity to which his residents are entitled,” declared Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips. “George Santos is clearly not capable of providing the integrity to which his residents are entitled. He will never be my congressman, and his resignation should be forthcoming.

Others who denounced Santos included Nassau Legislature’s Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello speaking on behalf of the 12-member majority; Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, State Assemblyman Ed Ra, Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joe Saladino, and City of Glen Cove Mayor Pam Panzenbeck. They said that none of them would work with Santos.

State Senator Jack Martins, whose pivotal role on New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission led to the redrawing of the 3rd Congressional District from being a “safe” Democratic district to being winnable for Republicans, called on Santos to resign. “People of Nassau County deserve better.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

State Senator Jack Martins, whose pivotal role on New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission led to the redrawing of the 3rd Congressional District from being a “safe” Democratic district that few Republicans came forward to challenge the incumbent to a competitive district, called on Santos to resign. “People of Nassau County deserve better. It’s probably impossible to shame the shameless, to get him to do what is right. But we are united that until he resigns, we will perform our responsibility to represent Nassau County but not work with Santos.”

Asked whether the Santos debacle reflected flaws in the Nassau County Republican Committee’s vetting process, Cairo said that in the 2020 election, when Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi was running for reelection in what was regarded as a safe district that Democrats had led for some decades, Santos was one of the few Republicans who came forward.

“He was recommended by the Queens Republicans. And he submitted a written resume,” Cairo said.

In 2020, Cairo said, “the district was strongly Democrat, and Santos was the designated candidate. When Santos lost in 2020 to Tom Suozzi, “he was angry” and, like Trump, claimed that he had in fact won but blamed his loss on the committee.

Then, in 2022, the Court of Appeals changed the district so it became winnable.

Cairo insisted he did not have an inkling about the falsities into Santos’ background until “it came to light” with the New York Times investigation and other media reports.

“Santos was not someone we knew from Nassau politics. We trusted him. Shame on us.” He said he spoke to Santos once since the deception came to light and Santos has yet to make good on his promise to explain.

“Shame on me for believing him,” Cairo said, promising to revamp the vetting process in the future.

As for the donors who were essentially defrauded, he said “some have connections overseas. Some believed in Republican philosophy, especially when they saw the odds changed, and this became a competitive district we could win.”

Asked why the Republicans are coming forward now to demand George Santos resign from Congress and not before Santos he was sworn in, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said he believed in due process and giving Santos the opportunity to clear his name. “But the situation has become untenable.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked why the Republicans are coming forward now to demand Santos resign and not before he was sworn in to Congress, Blakeman said he believed in due process and giving Santos the opportunity to clear his name. “But the situation has become untenable. How do you deal with someone who is an out-and-out liar. I came to the conclusion recently that we don’t need the process to unfold. He needs help. A person who builds lies one on top of another needs help. This is a forgiving country. If he gets help, shows remorse, he will have a future.”

Santos is currently under investigation by the US Attorney’s office, the Federal Election Commission looking into suspected campaign funding violations, the New York State Attorney General, Nassau County District Attorney and Queens County District Attorney, in addition to being wanted by Brazilian authorities. And most recently, two Congressmen called for an Ethics Committee investigation, though McCarthy took care to effectively shut it down. While lying is not a basis for removal (though theoretically, only person of good character are supposed to be sworn into office and putting down a false address on the petition to be put on a ballot is a crime), Santos is also accused of federal crimes stemming from where his funding came from that enabled him to loan his campaign $700,000, when only two years ago, he reported income of $55,000 a year and was evicted for nonpayment of rent twice.

Santos also donated $126,000 to the Republican Committee, which Cairo said was returned to the committee that donated the funds, but other donations that Santos made to the county committee were spent on lawn signs and such.

See also:

NY3 Constituents Protest at George Santos’ Queens Office Demanding He Resign; Call for Investigation, Special Election

NY 3rd Constituents Rally to Demand Disgraced Republican Congressman-Elect George Santos Resign

Constituents Call for Federal Investigation into Crimes Arising from George Santos Campaign

Viewpoint: Who owns George Santos? That is the question

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© 2023 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email [email protected]. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

NY3 Constituents Protest at George Santos’ Queens Office Demanding He Resign; Call for Investigation, Special Election

“We are here as one to express our anger, frustration. We stand together united to demand Santos resign,” Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic candidate for Congress who Santos defeated, declared at a protest in front of what newly elected Congressman George Santos asserts is his Queens office © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Just hours after George Santos was sworn in as a member of the house of Representatives, over 100 people gathered outside what he claims to be his office – actually former Congressman Tom Suozzi’s office – on Northern Boulevard in Queens, to demand he resign from Congress, an investigation by the house Ethics committee (the very one that the new speaker, Kevin McCarthy, said he would defund as a concession to the Sedition Caucus). They are calling on Santos to resign and for a special election to be held.

They spoke of having been betrayed, cheated, and more than that, that because Santos is effectively being frozen out of committees, even his own caucus, his constituents have effectively lost representation in Congress, access to federal funding and support. He runs from reporters, won’t answer questions or deal with representatives.

They raised concern that because of his shady finances (how the heck did a man who faced two evictions, reported a salary of $55,000 just two years ago, come to become a millionaire with a multi-million dollar business, and the ability to “loan” his own campaign $700,000, and pay out hundreds of thousands to other campaigns), Santos is a national security threat who cannot serve on any committee involving intelligence. They questioned who Santos is beholden to (at least one of his major donors is related to a sanctioned Russian oligarch), and whether he would be prime to sell secrets.

They raised concerns about undermining trust in government, altogether.

A photo of George Santos using a White Supremacy hand gesture as he raised his other hand to vote for Kevin McCarthy to become Speaker of the House, particularly upset Susan Naftol of Plainview © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

A photo of George Santos using a White Supremacy hand gesture as he raised his other hand to vote for McCarthy, was featured on the sign carried by Susan Naftol of Plainview, that was received as a middle finger to constituents of one of the most diverse districts in the country, and a sign that like Trump, Santos, who at one point said he was descended from refugees of the Holocaust and was “Jew-ish” as well as biracial, would embrace anyone who supported him, White Supremacists, Insurrectionists, included.

“We demand Speaker McCarthy open an investigation, now. If Santos, allies think he can just bide his time and this will blow over, he is mistaken. We will protest, hound him until he gives us our seat back,” Ed Braunstein, State Assemblyman (District 26) and 3rd District resident, declared © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ed Braunstein, State Assemblyman (District 26), and 3rd District resident, declared that when Santos was elected, it was his intention to work with him “for common good. That was before found out Santos was a pathological liar, a national laughingstock. There is no way to work with him, or refer constituents for help, or sign a letter with him, or work with nonprofits to seek funding from him. He is useless. Not effective locally or nationally. He is toxic in Congress – colleagues won’t sit with him. Nobody can work with him. He is compromising us being there. He should do the right thing and resign. Unfortunately, all indications are that is not his interest.

“A few days ago, while voting for Speaker, he flashed a White Power hand gesture. Queens County is the most diverse in the country – we celebrate ethnic, racial, religious diversity, and then, to look and see this clown flash the white power gesture – he is thumbing his nose at us, at his colleagues. It tarnishes the House as an institution. Every other House member should be horrified. Congress has power to open Ethics Investigation [except one of the concessions McCarthy made to get enough votes to become Speaker was to defund the committee].

“We demand Speaker McCarthy open an investigation, now. If Santos, allies think he can just bide his time and this will blow over, he is mistaken. We will protest, hound him until he gives us our seat back, Braunstein declared.

“We are sending a message to those members of Congress who don’t call on him to resign that they are accomplices. George Santos is a threat to national security,” declared Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic candidate for Congress who Santos defeated. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic candidate for Congress who Santos defeated, declared, “We are here as one to express our anger, frustration. We stand together united to demand Santos resign. We are sending a message to those members of Congress who don’t call on him to resign that they are accomplices. He is threat to national security.”

Veronica Lurvey, a Town of North Hempstead councilmember and the child of political refugees who escaped Soviet tyranny in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, declared that The Soviet regime was a regime built on lies. Lies the government told the people, and lies that the people told each other. This lead to a weakening of the social fabric…a weakening of civil society….and the rise of massive corruption that is difficult to eradicate.

“Luckily my parents were able to flee the Soviet regime and got their start in Astoria, Queens. As a first generation American, born in the US – actually I was born in NYC, I have internalized the core American values of hard work, decency and honesty.

“Mr. Santos’ lies make a mockery of every one of us whose families came to this country to achieve the American dream. What’s more, Mr. Santos’ lies erode the trust that we have in our elected officials,” declared North Hempstead Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Mr. Santos’ lies make a mockery of every one of us whose families came to this country to achieve the American dream. What’s more, Mr. Santos’ lies erode the trust that we have in our elected officials. To get anything done in government, you need to be able to negotiate, to speak with honesty. When deals fall apart because of lies, who would be stupid enough to try to enter a deal again? Honesty is the basis of any relationship and without honesty relationships fail. Mr. Santos, your relationship with the people of the 3rd Congressional district in NY has failed. You have been caught cheating. Cheating cannot be tolerated.

Over 100 turned out for a protest at the Queens address George Santos lists as his Queens office to demand he resign © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I am here to say that for the sake of the soul of the American dream, for all the immigrants who came to the United States and worked around the clock like my parents did…I call for a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee into Mr. Santos and his background. We cannot let Santos’ lies and dishonesty erode the America that we love, the America that our families looked to as a beacon of hope. Cheaters must not be rewarded,” Lurvey declared.

Over 100 turned out to protest at George Santos Queens office, once occupied by Congressman Tom Suozzi  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The constituents are not just protesting and holding rallies, they are taking action.

A nonpartisan group, Concerned Citizens of NY Congressional District 3, has been formed, circulating petitions calling for Santos’ ouster and a free and fair special election to replace him. They are demanding the US Justice Department prosecute Santos for fraud, the House Ethics Committee to investigate, and local and national Republican leders to repudiate Santos and refuse to seat him.

“Recognizing that no one in Washington D.C. will believe anything Santos says, constituents of NY-03 are concerned that they will not have a voice in Congress and will be shut out of critical federal support and services,” declared Jody Kass Finkel © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“This is not partisan,” said the founder, Jody Kass Finkel. “both Democrat and Republican residents feel deceived by Santos’ lies. Recognizing that no one in Washington D.C. will believe anything Santos says, constituents of NY-03 are concerned that they will not have a voice in Congress and will be shut out of critical federal support and services.”

She supplied statements from numerous constituents registering their outrage, sense of betrayal.

“People didn’t have the truth about who this guy was. In my 30-plus years in the nonprofit world lobbying for environmental, health and affordable housing issues in Washington and Albany, I’ve never seen anyone with such an arrogant contempt for the truth or his constituents. While the whole country is aghast at Santos’ lies and utter disregard for decency, the residents of NY-03 have the most to lose,” Finkel declared.

“The Constitution provides for Americans to elect their representative. The representative we got lied, is unqualified, a fugitive conman, a grifter.”

She said that the group is researching the law even citing the Adam Clayton Powell case in the Supreme Court that kept Powell in office. ”That decision hung on what was the will of the people. Santos is not the will of the people.”

She presented statements from numerous district constituents:

“George Santos is sending the exact wrong message to young people across the country,” stated 18-year old activist and college student Aidan Davis. “If he isn’t held accountable, he demonstrates that our system deems it acceptable to lie about accomplishments, fabricate entire backgrounds and work histories, and generally be dishonest in order to get ahead. He must resign.”

Long Islanders Adrian Davis and Susan Naftol join protest to demand a special election to replace George Santos as Congressman for NY 3rd District © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Shari Markovich of Little Neck stated, “George Santos duped his constituents and was elected under false pretenses, fabricating his resume and blatantly lying about his background and credentials. This is criminal and we cannot allow this person to represent our district. There needs to be a new election.”

Casey Sabella, who organized the protest at George Santos’ Queens office, noted ways that people can remain active to have him removed as NY 3rd’s Congressman including buttons with a QR code that goes to a petition calling for investigation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Casey Sabella, who organized the protest in coordination with up with Courage for America, offered a call to action for those inside and beyond the district to demand an investigation. She produced buttons with a QR code that leads to a letter online at www.whoisgeorgesantos.com. Wear button everywhere, talk to everyone, sign the letter. Continue to talk on social media, talk to everyone, write a letter to the editor. Make clear constituents won’t allow him to hide.”

See also:

NY 3rd Constituents Rally to Demand Disgraced Republican Congressman-Elect George Santos Resign

Constituents Call for Federal Investigation into Crimes Arising from George Santos Campaign

Viewpoint: Who owns George Santos? That is the question

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© 2023 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email [email protected]. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Border Enforcement Actions

New Measures Leverage Success of Venezuela Enforcement Initiative to Limit Disorderly and Unsafe Migration

President Joe Biden announces new border enforcement actions © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

Republicans love to rail against the Biden Administration – even threatening impeachment – and Democrats over the “border crisis,” but the fact is that President Joe Biden, like President Barack Obama before him, have tried over and over to enact policies and procedures to address the influx of people LAWFULLY making a claim of asylum. Republicans are making hay – even as they are incapable of electing a Speaker of the House – over “open border” but it is the Democrats who have proposed rational, humane processes that have, in fact, accounted for 2.7 million taken into custody in 2022 – the vast majority fleeing climate disasters, gang violence – immediately repatriating 45 percent.

The people who were essentially human trafficked by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to Vice President Kamala Harris’ home in Washington DC, and to New York City and other “blue” state sanctuary cities were not “illegal aliens” but people who were processed for a hearing, as international and federal law requires. Meanwhile, Republicans have not come up with any plan to address the flood of desperate people who are legally entitled to seek refuge, but instead, have obstructed any comprehensive reform effort, refused to adopt the DREAM Act, even going to court to overturn the Obama-era DACA program that gives people who were brought to the US as children and spent their entire lives in the US legal status to go to school, college and work.

Obama was forced to issue his DACA policy since the Republicans in Congress refused to consider the bipartisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, which did exactly what was asked: spent a ton of money on border enforcement. But Republicans refused to provide any path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented people living for years in the US until the border was sealed shut. An impossibility of which they were well aware.

Republicans are not satisfied with any immigration “reform” that does not include taking toddlers and infants from the arms of their mothers, and turning them into orphans, putting children in cages, allows migrant women to be sterilized against their will.

President Biden has issued his latest plan for border enforcement, that includes sending more immigration judges and social services to these border entry sites. Here is a White House Fact Sheet–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

While the courts have prevented the Title 42 public health order from lifting for now, the Biden-Harris Administration today is announcing new enforcement measures to increase security at the border and reduce the number of individuals crossing unlawfully between ports of entry. These measures will expand and expedite legal pathways for orderly migration and result in new consequences for those who fail to use those legal pathways. They also draw on the success of the Venezuela initiative, which launched in October 2022 and has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of Venezuelan nationals attempting to enter the United States unlawfully.
 
The Administration is also announcing that it is surging additional resources to the border and the region, scaling up its anti-smuggling operations, and expanding coordination and support for border cities and non-governmental organizations. Importantly, the actions announced today are being implemented in close partnership with Mexico and governments across the Western Hemisphere.
 
While these steps will help address some of the most acute challenges at the Southwest border, they will not solve all of the problems in an immigration system that has been broken for far too long. That can only happen if Republicans in Congress who have spent the past two years talking about border security quit blocking the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden proposed on his first day in office, and opposing the billions of dollars in additional funds the President has requested for border security and management.
 
Unlike some Republican officials playing political games and obstructing real solutions to fix our broken immigration system, President Biden has a plan and is taking action. Under the new enforcement measures announced today, the Biden-Harris Administration will:
 
Impose New Consequences for Individuals who Attempt to Enter Unlawfully
 
To facilitate a return to the processing of all noncitizens under Title 8 authorities when Title 42 eventually lifts, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is:

  • Increasing the Use of Expedited Removal. Effective immediately, individuals who attempt to enter the United States without permission, do not have a legal basis to remain, and cannot be expelled pursuant to Title 42 will be increasingly subject to expedited removal to their country of origin and subject to a five-year ban on reentry.
  • Announcing New Measures to Encourage Individuals to Seek Orderly and Lawful Pathways to Migration. DHS and the Department of Justice today are announcing their intent to propose a new regulation that would encourage individuals to seek orderly and lawful pathways to migration and reduce overcrowding along the southwest border and the strain on the immigration system.
     

Expand Legal Pathways for Safe, Orderly, and Humane Migration
 
The Biden-Harris Administration and its international partners in the region are also announcing new and expanded legal pathways to the United States and other countries that individuals can and should use to avoid consequences for crossing the border unlawfully. These include:

  • Expanding the Parole Process for Venezuelans to Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Cubans. Today, the Biden Administration is announcing it will extend the successful Venezuela parole process and expand it to nationals of Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba. Up to 30,000 individuals per month from these four countries, who have an eligible sponsor and pass vetting and background checks, can come to the United States for a period of two years and receive work authorization. Individuals who irregularly cross the Panama, Mexico, or U.S. border after the date of this announcement will be ineligible for the parole process and will be subject to expulsion to Mexico, which will accept returns of 30,000 individuals per month from these four countries who fail to use these new pathways.
     
  • Tripling Refugee Resettlement from the Western Hemisphere. The Biden-Harris Administration intends to welcome up to 20,000 refugees from Latin American and Caribbean countries during Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024, putting the United States on pace to more than triple refugee admissions from the Western Hemisphere this Fiscal Year alone. This delivers on the President’s commitment under the Los Angeles Declaration for Migration and Protection to scale up refugee admissions from the Western Hemisphere.
     
  • Launching Online Appointment Portal to Reduce Overcrowding and Wait Times at U.S. Ports of Entry.  When Title 42 eventually lifts, noncitizens located in Central and Northern Mexico seeking to enter the United States lawfully through a U.S. port of entry have access to the CBP One mobile application for scheduling an appointment to present themselves for inspection and to initiate a protection claim instead of coming directly to a port of entry to wait. This new feature will significantly reduce wait times and crowds at U.S. ports of entry and allow for safe, orderly, and humane processing. 
  • New Legal Pathways to Other Countries Across the Region. Countries across the Western Hemisphere are delivering on their commitments under the Los Angeles Declaration to expand legal immigration pathways. Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Belize are each implementing new regularization or temporary protection policies to provide legal status to hundreds of thousands of migrants. Canada, Mexico, and Spain have expanded refugee resettlement and temporary work opportunities. Mexico and Guatemala have also significantly grown their asylum system. Individuals are encouraged to avail themselves of this wide range of legal pathways in the region and avoid the dangerous consequences of irregular migration.
     
  • Increasing Humanitarian Assistance in Mexico and Central America. The United States is announcing today nearly $23 million in additional humanitarian assistance in Mexico and Central America. This new assistance will help governments in the region respond to the increased humanitarian and protection needs of migrants, refugees and other vulnerable populations in their care. Recognizing that no one country can respond to these needs alone, this assistance will help support shelter, health, legal assistance, mental health and psychosocial support, water, sanitation, hygiene products, gender-based violence response, livelihoods, other protection related activities, and capacity building for partners. 

 
Surge Resources to Secure the Border, Disrupt Criminal Smuggling Networks, and Support Border Communities
 
The Biden-Harris Administration is surging resources and expanding efforts to securely manage the border, disrupt the criminal smuggling networks preying on vulnerable migrants, and support communities receiving migrants as they await their immigration enforcement proceedings. New and expanded efforts include:

  • Mobilizing Record Resources for Safe, Orderly, and Humane Processing of Migrants. The Biden Administration is marshalling available authorities and resources from across the Federal Government to help ensure the border is secure and well-managed when the Title 42 public health order eventually lifts. DHS and DOJ are surging asylum officers and immigration judges to review asylum cases at the border more quickly – with the aim of reducing initial processing times from months to days. The two agencies are also expanding capabilities and technologies to support faster processing, including by installing hundreds of phone lines and privacy booths to conduct these interviews and proceedings. DHS is also hiring and deploying additional agents and officers to join the over 23,000 already working to secure the border. In addition, DHS is significantly scaling up its air and ground transportation capabilities to quickly remove migrants when warranted or transport migrants to less-congested border sectors for further immigration enforcement proceedings.
     
  • Taking Thousands of Smugglers off the Streets and Countering Smuggler Misinformation. In Los Angeles earlier this year, President Biden announced a first-of-its kind operation against the multi-billion-dollar human smuggling industry. Since April, this operation has led to over 7,300 arrests, forcing many criminal smuggling organizations out of business. The Administration is also taking on the smuggler misinformation. The Department of State is expanding its paid and earned media outreach to ensure timely and accurate information is reaching migrants. Messaging and outreach will target high out-migration communities and migrant routes through relevant communications channels (e.g., radio, digital, trusted partners, and more.) with an estimated reach of over 85 million potential migrants
     
  • Expanding Coordination with and Support for Border Cities, Receiving Communities, and Non-Governmental Organizations. The Biden-Harris Administration is increasing funding available to border cities and those cities receiving an influx of migrants, in addition to strengthening ongoing coordination and collaboration across all levels of government. DHS is also expanding outreach efforts with local jurisdictions to provide coordination of resources and technical assistance support and the Administration has been facilitating coordination between state and local officials and other federal agencies. Additionally, the Administration will continue to mobilize faith-based and non-profit organizations supporting migrants, including those providing temporary shelter, food, and humanitarian assistance before often reuniting with family as they await the outcome of their immigration proceedings.

The Biden-Harris Administration will do everything within its authority and available resources to manage this challenge, but until and unless Congress delivers the funding as well as comprehensive immigration reform measures President Biden requested, the United States’ broken immigration system will indeed remain broken.

NY 3rd Constituents Rally to Demand Disgraced Republican Congressman-Elect George Santos Resign

“I am angry and frustrated too,” Democratic Congressional candidate Robert Zimmerman declared. “But the answer is all of us, demanding a House ethics investigation, investigations at federal, state and local levels, making sure George Santos does not stay in Congress. That’s not Democratic or Republican politics. It’s about protecting democracy, standing up for justice against corruption and George Santos’ fraud. At stake: democracy, faith in the integrity of our political system and the American Dream.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Asked if he feels cheated out of being elected to US Congress, the Democrat Robert Zimmerman who was defeated by Republican George Santos now being exposed as a fraudster who falsified his career and finances, was emphatic that it was the constituents, the political process and democracy itself Santos cheated.

“It’s not about me,” Zimmerman declared. “It’s about restoring integrity to our political process. The fact Santos thought he could get away with it – this is the antidote. The fact we’re here.”

And they came out in sizable numbers for a press conference at rally in front of the Nassau County Courthouse, calling for Santos to resign and for the Republican leadership to refuse to seat him, and carrying signs including “Make lying wrong again,” “Santos lies. Democracy dies.” “Follow the money.”

Prosecutors at the federal, state and local level have already announced investigations into how Santos, who only two years ago reported earning $55,000 a year, managed to loan his campaign $700,000 and declare income and assets in the multi-millions of dollars.

State Assemblyman Charles Lavine reflected that everyone gathered has the same trauma as any victim of a crime, a fraud, a Ponzi scheme. “the difference is the first few get some of their money back, but we, the citizens of the 3rd District are left holding the bag, the laughingstock of the United States and international community.”

“What do you say to those around here who depend on government to protect their version of the American Dream? Resigning is the way to preserve the American Dream,” youth activist Greg Leung of Great Neck said © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Greg Leung, a youth activist from Great Neck and freshman at Boston University where he is studying political science and is thinking about entering government or politics, reflected the feelings of many young people, new voters, who have a right to be disillusioned, jaded, cynical about the political process.

“As a first generation American, in the extraordinary position of a Congressman elect, you are living the American Dream, a set of ideals that those who came before fought so vehemently to defend. The American Dream is an ideal nurtured over centuries – Government for, by the people with integrity. Lately, people like you resorted to deception to take power, eroding the American Dream you  vowed to defend in the campaign. You lied for your own gain. Most vile, you lied about the Holocaust and mass shooting…. What do you say to those around here who depend on government to protect their version of the American Dream? Resigning is the way to preserve the American Dream,” Leung said.

Linda Beigel Schulman: “This is not a matter of politics or party. It is about right versus wrong, lying versus trust, deception versus honesty. NY 3rd needs a Congressman who is honest, who we can trust.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Linda Beigel Schulman, who is a daughter of an actual Holocaust survivor as well as the victim of her son’s murder by the Parkland shooter, “1800 days ago,” spoke of the pain and trauma of being re-victimized by Santos’ false claims of his grandparents having fled the Holocaust and having had four employees killed in the Pulse Nightclub massacre.

My father lived in Ukraine, in Kiev. He slept in the forest, in bomb craters evading Nazis for years. He went to Canada and then the US. Others in his family were not so lucky. He would not speak of it, except in an interview by Spielberg’s organization.

“It is insulting and demeaning to every child of a Holocaust survivor.  “How dare you lie about being a child of Holocaust survivors, or being Jew-ish? You lied about having four employees at Pulse. How dare he try to gain sympathy. I know all too well the sense of loss, the grief from gun violence.

“Lying has become commonplace and worse, accepted. Outright lying shouldn’t be accepted by anyone. Integrity matters,” she declared. “Lies are analogous to a virus, afflicting pain, fever, sometimes killing the host. We the people have become an infected host. If we accept lying from political leaders, it will surely destroy our fiber. The antidote is we the people, here today. We are the antidote. This country was founded on We the people, not lies.’

Schulman thanked Republicans Nassau County Executive Blakeman, DA Donnelly, incoming Congressmen Anthony D’Esposito and Nick Lalota for speaking out, calling for a full investigation.

“This is not a matter of politics or party. It is about right versus wrong, lying versus trust, deception versus honesty. NY 3rd needs a Congressman who is honest, who we can trust.”

Rabbi Deborah Bravo of the MakomNY Worship Center in Bethpage, said Santos’ lies about his Jewish ancestry were particularly offensive. “To lie about being descendants of Holocaust survivors for the purpose of political gain is beyond unacceptable..No one has the right to presume this ancestry for the purpose of political gain and empathy from constituents.”

State Senator Anna Kaplan: “George Santos has perpetrated a complete and total fraud on our community, but we cannot forget that for the last three years, he was enabled and supported by the entire Nassau County Republican machine and his Republican running mates,” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

State Senator Anna Kaplan cast blame on the Republicans at the local and federal level who propped Santos up and who are complicit in Santos’ fraud.

 “George Santos has perpetrated a complete and total fraud on our community, but we cannot forget that for the last three years, he was enabled and supported by the entire Nassau County Republican machine and his Republican running mates, many of whom sit in elected office today and others who will soon take office. The questions about exactly who George Santos are not new, but they were brushed aside and minimized by local Republicans desperate to flip this congressional seat at any cost.

“Our entire community has been victimized, and we demand accountability. George Santos must be investigated by all appropriate authorities, particularly surrounding his shady business dealings and mystery millions that seem to have appeared overnight despite having no legitimate career to speak of. The outstanding criminal charges against George Santos in Brazil must be answered for. And we all deserve an apology for his reprehensible lies about his nonexistent Jewish faith and his completely fake connection to the Holocaust.

“To allow George Santos to be seated as a member of Congress would be a further knife in the heart of this community, and I’m urging Congressional Republican leadership to stop that from happening while investigations are ongoing.”

Kaplan added, “I’m also calling on every Republican in Nassau County who stood with this man over the course of the last three years to apologize to the voters, and renounce their support, along with every organization who endorsed his candidacy.”

Lavine noted, “Each of us is a victim of fraud – whoever represents the 3rd district acts not just for 3rd but the United States. But top of the list of victims of Santos’ fraud is Robert Zimmerman.”

“It’s not about me,” Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic Congressional candidate who Santos defeated, declared. “It’s about restoring integrity to our political process.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I am angry and frustrated too,” Zimmerman declared. “But the answer is all of us. Standing here today, demanding a House ethics investigation, investigations at federal, state and local levels, making sure Santos does not stay in Congress. That’s not Democratic or Republican politics. It’s about protecting democracy, standing up for justice against corruption and Santos’ fraud. At stake: democracy, faith in the integrity of our political system, the American Dream.”

At least one in the crowd of hundreds was a Republican who not only voted for George Santos, but helped elect him.

Buyers’ remorse: George Santos’ supporter Teodora Choolfaian plans to tell Santos to resign © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Teodora Choolfaian said she left the Democratic party, registered Republican and backed Santos over the issue of COVID-mitigation in public schools. Santos came to the rallies she held, and seemed to embrace her call to end mask mandates in school.

But at the rally calling for Santos to resign, she said she believed she had been deceived by Santos. One of her concerns is the source of Santos’ funding – as recently as 2020, he reported a salary of $55,000. In this cycle, his financial disclosures reported a salary of $750,000 plus assets of millions of dollars, without accounting for the source.

She now is calling upon him to resign Santos is worse than you think,” she told reporters.

She will tell Santos as much when she sees him at the swearing in, at the Capitol on January 3, to which she has been invited.

“Follow the money”: Great Neck constituents Bob Fowler, Jody finkel, Sally Marzouk at rally calling for incoming Republican Congressman George Santos to resign © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, Santos’ campaign finance disclosures are now being investigated by the US Attorney, the New York State Attorney General and the Nassau County District Attorney.

A search of the FEC.gov database shows that Santos raised $2.933,614 for his 2022 campaign, including $1,001,151 in itemized individual contributions, $464,406  in unitemized individual contributions,  $12,950 in party committee contributions, $247,551 in other committee contributions, $487,258 in transfers from other authorized committees, $705,000 in loans the candidate made to himself.

The Santos campaign reported spending $3,017,602 in operating expenditures. (https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00721365/).

While a sitting congressman cannot be removed for lying about his background – though the House Ethics committee might see fit to censure him – actual federal crimes are another matter. But investigation and prosecution would take months, possibly years. So New York’s 3rd Congressional district may have to be resigned to waiting to 2024.

See also:

Constituents Call for Federal Investigation into Crimes Arising from George Santos Campaign

Viewpoint: Who owns George Santos? That is the question

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© 2022 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email [email protected]. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Federal, State Officials Get Serious About Combatting Antisemitism. ‘Silence is Complicity’

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul awards a proclamation to UJA-Federation CEO Eric Goldstein at the Shine a Light event at Times Square to raise awareness of antisemitism and show Jewish pride. Hochul reiterated her support for programs to combat anti-Semitism. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Nearly one out of every four Jews in the U.S. experiences antisemitism. It’s become normalized across our culture — on social media, in pop culture and politics, and on the streets, writes the organizers of a Shine a Light event in which Jews were called upon to proudly display their identity in lighting the menorah at Times Square. Leaders from President Joe Biden and New York State Governor Kathy Hochul and on down have declared that antisemitism, bigotry and hate will no longer be tolerated.

Antisemitism is on the rise across the United States. The Anti-Defamation League which tracks antisemitic behavior nationwide, found 2717 incidents in 2021, a 34 percent rise over 2020 – accompanied by unabashed rise and weaponization of fascism and political violence, the attacks more brazen, more violent, more deadly and more politically strategic.

Charlottesville (where a woman was murdered, after which Trump said there were “good people” on both sides). The Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh.

The Jewish community has a propensity to dismiss anti-Semitic rhetoric and not draw too much attention. But the time is passed for dismissing, or ignoring, or minimizing. American Jews came out to the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square to celebrate and stand up for their Jewish identity © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“This is the highest total we have ever tracked in more than 40 years of doing this work,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director, Anti-Defamation League said on Newshour on PBS. “And we should keep in mind that antisemitic acts were going down in the United States for almost 15 years, and then, in 2016, they started to move up. And we’re now at the point where we have nearly triple the number of incidents today that we did in 2015.” In 2022, assaults increased 167 percent, with increases in incidents of vandalism and harassment.  

“So I think antisemitism really isn’t just a Jewish problem. It’s an American problem,” he asserted. “[Antisemitism] is typically the canary in the coal mine. And so, as things are beginning to unravel more broadly, the Jewish community is often the target of scapegoating and victimized in that way.”

Antisemitism is not new in America, but Greenblatt noted, “We have never seen a situation like this before. You had Jews being beaten and brutalized in broad daylight, say, in the middle of Times Square or Los Angeles or the Strip in Las Vegas, where people who were simply identified as Jewish came under assault and attack. That was new. And I think what you’re seeing is a kind of normalization of antisemitism and extremism.”

NYS Attorney General Letitia James: “I stand with the Jewish community and Israel. Love will overcome hate.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Taking a cue from Trump, whose entire political career has been built upon fear-mongering bigotry, politicians who once would never have dared profess support for Hitler and Nazism will actually be in positions of power in Congress, including Marjorie Taylor Greene (who charged that Jewish space lasers were to blame for California’s wildfires and who embraces QAnon, which has repackaged the Jewish Blood Libel conspiracy from the Middle Ages to incite attacks on Jews), while others, like Speaker Wannabe Kevin McCarthy and incoming Congressman George Santos, stand by instead of denouncing attacks.

Celebrities like Kanye West, who command the following of millions use social media to incite attacks on Jews. Only last week, a 63-year old man was attacked in Central Park by a man who shouted anti-Semitic slogans and had a sign, Kanye 2024.

The MC of the Shine a Light event, comedian Ariel Elias, who grew up in Kentucky (very few Jews there) related how a video of her performing in a comedy club went viral after someone threw a beer can at her. She only connected it to antisemitism after noting the timing of the incident: it coincided with Kanye West’s “defcon3” tweet © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In just the few weeks since the recent takeover of Twitter by billionaire Elon Musk, who fired moderators and brought back those who were thrown off for inciting violence, hate-filled tweets have increased fivefold.

“The Holocaust didn’t begin with systematic murder of 6 million Jews, it began with rhetoric, normalization of rhetoric that the average person picked up on and ran with; it began with attacks on individuals, businesses, communities, perpetrated by citizens with permission by rhetoric,” Rabbi Michael Knopf, Temple Beth-el, Richmond, told “All Things Considered’ on NPR.

“We ought not to wait around for another Charlottesville, another [Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in] Pittsburgh. “When it manifests, it requires calling out.”

A celebration and statement of Jewish identity at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Jewish community, he said, has a propensity to dismiss anti-Semitic rhetoric, and not draw too much attention. “That is really dangerous. Not just celebrities, but celebrities endorsed by and in relationship with incredibly powerful figures, the former president, refuse to distance themselves from that ideology, welcome and embrace it”. Indeed, they embrace them as their voting base.

But the time is passed for dismissing, or ignoring, or minimizing.

Nearly one out of every four Jews in the U.S. experiences antisemitism. It’s become normalized across our culture — on social media, in pop culture and politics, and on the streets, writes the organizers of a Shine a Light event in which Jews were called upon to proudly display their identity in lighting the menorah at Times Square. Antisemitic incidents and attacks have mushroomed on college campuses, even at City University of New York – indeed, the menorah was lit by four CUNY students who have been victims of antisemitism. Washington DC-area high schoolers, interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered, how they are made to feel like outsiders, diminished, less equal, and have new fears of being attacked.

Montana Tucker, TikTok Influencer, at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square. “Antisemitism is intensifying. Our efforts to fight it must be even stronger. Nearly one out of every four Jews in the U.S. experiences antisemitism. It’s become normalized across our culture — on social media, in pop culture and politics, and on the streets,” the organizers stated © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, chairing the first-ever White House summit to combat antisemitism and hate-fueled violence, cited “an epidemic of hate, a rapid rise in antisemitic rhetoric and acts. Let me clear, words matter. People are no longer saying the quiet parts out loud, they are literally screaming them.”

President Biden is taking action, establishing an inter-agency group led by Domestic Policy Council staff and National Security Council staff to increase and better coordinate federal government efforts to counter antisemitism, Islamophobia and related forms of bias and discrimination. The President has tasked the inter-agency group as its first order of business to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism by raising understanding about antisemitism and the threat it poses to the Jewish community and all Americans, and addressing antisemitic harassment and abuse both online and offline. The President also has secured the largest increase in federal funding ever for the physical security of non-profits, including synagogues and Jewish Community Centers.

The Ramaz Upper School Choir at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

One can almost process antisemitism in rearing up in places where there are few Jews and therefore so easy to fabricate the fantastical conspiracies and caricatures. But New York City? Long Island? New York State, which has the largest population of Jews outside of Israel, which is the most richly filled melting pot of nationalities, religions, races on the planet? What does that say?

Governor Kathy Hochul, who came out to the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square on Monday, days earlier announced the launch of a new statewide Hate and Bias Prevention Unit, within the state’s Division of Human Rights. The unit is charged with leading public education and outreach efforts, serving as an early warning detection system in local communities, and quickly mobilizing to support areas and communities in which a bias incident has occurred.

“New York State will use every tool at its disposal to eliminate hate and bias from our communities,” Governor Kathy  Hochul said. “We will not let the rise in hate incidents that we see happening online, across the country and across the world, take root here at home.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“New York State will use every tool at its disposal to eliminate hate and bias from our communities,” Governor Hochul said. “We will not let the rise in hate incidents that we see happening online, across the country and across the world, take root here at home.”   Among the issues she raised during the Shine a Light event was the need to teach about the Holocaust with substance, not passing lip service. Holocaust education is mandated in the state’s curriculum.

“New York State will use every tool at its disposal to eliminate hate and bias from our communities,” Governor Kathy  Hochul said. “We will not let the rise in hate incidents that we see happening online, across the country and across the world, take root here at home.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Governor announced $96 million in state and federal funding to safeguard nonprofit, community-based organizations at risk of hate crimes and attacks; and directed $10 million in state grant funds to support county governments as they develop domestic terrorism prevention plans and threat assessment and management teams.

Rapper Nissim Baruch Black performs at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Hate and Bias Prevention Unit will be responsible for establishing and implementing a statewide campaign promoting acceptance, inclusion, tolerance, and understanding of diversity, as required by legislation signed last month by Governor Hochul, The campaign will coordinate and cooperate with public and private organizations, including, but not limited to, local governments, community groups, school districts, places of worship, charitable organizations, and foundations and will develop educational materials to be published on the internet, social media, and other platforms to reach the public. The Division also works with the New York State Police to educate New Yorkers on the State’s hate crimes laws.

The cast of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, directed by Joe Gray, now playing until Jan 1st, give a taste of their performance © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Shine a Light event – which drew New York Attorney General Letitia James (who called antisemitism “a malignant cancer” that must be wiped out) in addition to Governor Hochul and was organized by UJA Federation New York, AJC New York, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, ADl-New York/New Jersey– was aimed at giving Jews an opportunity to proudly display their identity and commitment to their faith and heritage and raise awareness more broadly of antisemitism.

The Moshav Band brings cheer at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square, a celebration and declaration of Jewish identity © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The MC of the event, comedian Ariel Elias, who grew up in Kentucky (very few Jews there) related how a video of her performing in a comedy club went viral after someone threw a beer can at her. She only connected it to antisemitism after noting the timing of the incident: it coincided with Kanye West’s “defcon3” tweet.

“What I was talking about [before the beer can was thrown] was being Jewish and growing up in Kentucky,” Elias said. “But because antisemitism doesn’t always look the way it used to, it took a long time for me to connect the dots when it first happened.”

Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. (Little Rock, AR), President, African American Mayors Association, declared his support for combating antisemitism at the Shine a Light event in Times Square © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Antisemitism is intensifying. Our efforts to fight it must be even stronger.Nearly one out of every four Jews in the U.S. experiences antisemitism. It’s become normalized across our culture — on social media, in pop culture and politics, and on the streets,” the Shine a Light organizers stated. Shine a Light comprises more than 80 Jewish and non-Jewish organizations which are committed to addressing rising antisemitism.

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez at the Shine a Light on Antisemitism event in Times Square: “People are not born hating, they are taught to hate,” pointing to the unthinkable incidents of antisemitism on New York’s campuses © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Antisemitic incidents and attacks have mushroomed on college campuses, even at City University of New York – indeed, the menorah in Times Square was lit by four CUNY students who have been victims of antisemitism. Washington DC-area high schoolers, interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered, how they are made to feel like outsiders, diminished, less equal, and have new fears of being attacked.

UJA-Federation CEO Eric Goldstein, who spoke at the Shine a Light event, said that putting on an event like this in a public place is important in order to show that Jews are standing up to antisemitism. “A really important piece of this is to live [a] proudly public, happy Jewish life.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

UJA-Federation CEO Eric Goldstein, who spoke at the Shine a Light event, told the New York Jewish Week that putting on an event like this in a public place is important in order to show that Jews are standing up to antisemitism. “A really important piece of this is to live [a] proudly public, happy Jewish life.”

Around Manhattan, there were numerous trucks manned by Orthodox Jews, playing festive music. “Are you Jewish,” someone would ask, and offering a Hanukkah kit in a box.

Dancing in the street on Fifth Avenue in celebration of Hanukkah © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We are here. We are here to stay.

“We live in a very challenging world, and the only thing we can use to overcome hatred, intolerance, prejudice and antisemitism is light – because light overcomes darkness and hatred,” Nassau County Legislator Arnold W. Drucker (D – Plainview) said at a “Latkes and Lights” celebration at the county executive building.

“We live in a very challenging world, and the only thing we can use to overcome hatred, intolerance, prejudice and antisemitism is light – because light overcomes darkness and hatred,” Nassau County Legislator Arnold W. Drucker (D – Plainview) said at a “Latkes and Lights” celebration © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Drucker, a member of the county’s Task Forceto CombatAntisemitism which was formed in May, said “The biggest problem is education. The task force intends to meet with school district administrators to get input –from faculty, student body – as to the root cause of antisemitism “rearing its ugly head. We are seeing symptoms throughout the country. We don’t want it to happen here. One example is too many.” He said he has reached out to Hochul’s office to being named as a Long Island representative on the satellite offices she is setting up throughout the state.

But in fact, there are been many instances, now, of antisemitism on Long Island, including leaflets left in neighborhoods suggesting a Jewish cabal controlling government, and only weeks ago, a Long Island man arrested at Penn Station with weapons who had made threats against the Jewish community.

Just this month, Municipal Leaders Against Antisemitism was formed to counter an uptick in antisemitic incidents in Long Island. There were 28 incidents in Nassau County so far this year, up from 24 in 2021.

At a Hanukkah reception at the White House, Biden stated that in the face of emboldened antisemitism in the US and around the world, “silence is complicity and we must forcefully say that all forms of hate, antisemitism and violence can have no safe harbor in America.”

Still, the question must be despite all these positive pronouncements and announcements and initiatives, whether it is just lip service or actual action, and whether these programs will be sustained long enough to reverse course again, making antisemitism culturally deplorable.

Happy Hanukkah for all those who celebrate – proudly.

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