More on that strange Hong Kong contribution to J StreetYou may recall that I raised some suspicions regarding Consolacion Esdicul's $811,697 contribution to J Street here. Lenny Ben David, who has been on the J Street story since the very beginning, raises some more suspicions.
Beyond the Soros contributions to J Street, equally troubling is a huge $811,697 contribution from a “Consolacion Esdicul” from Hong Kong. It appears that Consolacion is “Connie” Esdicul, who Google reveals as a member of the Hong Kong Rotary Club and lives in the Happy Valley section of Hong Kong. But little is known about the woman. J Street claims that she was solicited by Bill Benter, “a prominent J Street supporter from Pittsburgh.” Actually, Benter, who is not Jewish, is considered the world’s most successful bettor on horse races, and he hangs out at the Happy Valley horse track in Hong Kong. Racing sheets report that Benter places $250,000 bets on a race. According to Wired.com, “Nobody's more skilled at masking bets than Bill Benter, regarded by many of his peers as the most successful sports bettor in the world.”When Lenny wrote that Benter was not Jewish, that struck me as odd. Naively, since J Street described him as a supporter, and with his not-so-obvious last name, I assumed he was Jewish. So I started searching Bill Benter's name in Google, and one of the associations that came up was Vivian Fung. It turns out that Vivian Fung - who is a native of Hong Kong - is Benter's wife. (By the way, that article is a doozer. It doesn't quite come out and say it, but apparently Benter arranged for President Obama to meet with the Dalai Lama. The article notes Beijing's objections, says the President can meet with whomever he wants, and wonders why he won't meet with Hamas and Hezbullah. I suspect Benter agrees).
Esdicul’s contribution is a strange number unlike all the others which are rounded off to three zeroes. The figure may make sense, however, if it were a foreign currency conversion. What currency does $811,697 equal? Until J Street fesses up, we can only speculate. Using today’s conversion rates, Esdicul’s contribution equals 6,298,308 Hong Kong dollars, or 606,491 Euros, or 517,388 British pounds or 3,044,756 Saudi riyals.
Why would a Hong Kong individual contribute as much as one-half of J Street’s budget? Actually, Esdicul’s contribution is in line with J Street’s corrupt practices of taking money for its political action committee from decidedly non-pro-Israel sources: pro-Saudi activists, Arab-American leaders, Muslim activists, State Department Arabists, a Palestinian billionaire, and even a Turkish American who helped produce the anti-American and anti-Semitic film, Valley of the Wolves. According to the U.S. Federal Election Commission, the largest contribution to J Street’s Political Action Committee is $36,000 from a Latin teacher from Teton Village, Wyoming named Bob Morris. How do you say “strange” in Latin?
With such contributions, it’s easy to understand how J Street’s operation on Capitol Hill grew exponentially in the last 12 months. According to lobbying records on file at the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate, J Street’s lobbying budget went from under $5,000 in the first quarter of 2009 with one registered lobbyist to $130,000 in the first quarter of 2010, when J Street registered six lobbyists.
The $811,687 contribution from Hong Kong should raise the question whether under federal law the lobbyists need to register as foreign agents, and not domestic lobbyists.
Is there a connection between Connie Esdicul and Vivian Fung Benter other than the fact that they are both in Bill Benter's circle of friends? Pamela Geller notes:
And this from a commenter:Bill Jacobson has more on the Blackrock connection here.The mysterious large donor, Consolacion Esdicul, is better known as "Connie Esdicul" and even has a Facebook page. She appears to be a middle-aged woman who lives in the wealthy Happy Valley area of Hong Kong.
Ms.Esdicul has some unknown relationship with the New York hedge fund Black Rock and represented them at a charity event in HK. She presented a donation for Quality Camp to actor, Jackie Chan, from the Black Rock Advantage Fund in HK.
Black Rock has close ties to Soros ever since one of its founders, Keith Anderson, was appointed Chief Investment Officer of Soros Fund Management 2 years ago.
Vivian Fung and Bill Benter both have Facebook pages (Benter's lists J Street as a "like"). (Vivian Fung Benter is not the composer Vivian Fung, who has born in Edmonton - they look nothing alike).
It occurred to me that Vivian Fung Benter and Connie Esdicul could be sisters, but so far I cannot prove that.
A Google search of Bill Benter's name with Israel turns up 132,000 results. I'm still combing through those. Most of them are related to the recent story, but there was this curious one written by Steve Clemons of the Washington Note, a pro-Arab publication (I've seen it cited elsewhere but unsourced).
A quick note on schedule. This morning, I am hosting a delegation of the International Women's Commission comprised of Israel, Palestinian and international women calling for final status negotiations between Israel and Palestine as opposed to the imposition of a unilaterally decided border.You all should know why I emphasized the names I did.
This Commission issued a release last night, and I know that I'm their first meeting today as I'm arranging the bagels.
I think that what they are doing is important and will offer more reactions later, but here is the press release.
Later today, I am rushing off to Lisbon, Portugal to drive out to a retreat at the Arrabida Monastery.
The theme of discussion for the weekend are the growing, overlapping arcs of instability and crisis on the Eurasian continent.
Participants include European Parliament Member Cem Oezdemir, Georgetown University Professor and Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Charles Kupchan, Geneva Initiative co-drafter Daniel Levy, Acusis CEO Bill Benter, Peace & Security Initiative Director Deepti Choubey, Brookings Senior Fellow Flynt Leverett, International Policy Director in the Palestinian President's Office Ghaith Al-Omari (still tentative), Princeton professor G. John Ikenberry, UPI Editor Emeritus Martin Walker, New America Foundation Fellow and fast-rising terrorism journalist Nir Rosen, World Policy Institute Senior Fellow Sherle Schwenninger, Al Hayat Diplomatic Correspondent Raghida Dergham, University of Chicago professor and author Robert Pape, Middle East Policy Institute fellow Trita Parsi, former Senator Gary Hart, IPRI-Lisbon scholar Carlos Gaspar, and others.
That should be enough to think about for a while.