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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

J Street backer Bill Benter bankrolling pro-Hagel campaign

I guess George Soros is a little short on cash. Hong Kong based gambler Bill Benter, whose secretary, Consolacion Esdicul, donated most of J Street's budget in 2008-9, is bankrolling the fight to make Chuck Hagel the next Secretary of Defense of the United States.
But over the last two weeks, Hagel's friends in the Democratic political world have come to his aid, principally by rounding up senior former officials to write supportive op-eds and funding an advertising effort to spread the world that Hagel does in fact have bipartisan support.
The Cable has learned that a large chunk of that pro-Hagel money is coming from one Democratic donor, gambling legend Bill Benter, who is working with the Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying firm, to support pro-Hagel advertising. Podesta facilitated Benter's funding of a week of ads in Politico's Playbook must-read daily newsletter, written by Mike Allen, a spokesman for Benter confirmed to The Cable.
"The Bipartisan Group issued its letter to set the record straight on Chuck Hagel's character and on the positions taken by that Group.  One of the Group's long-time supporters, Bill Benter, paid for the advertising so that the letter could reach a wider audience," the spokesman said. "The public interest would be better served if those organizations which spent much more on attack ads against Senator Hagel would also disclose their donors." 
The so-called Bipartisan Group is really just taking care of one of their own.
"The Bipartisan Group is an informal grouping of leading foreign policy experts, most of them former senior government officials, who are connected with various leading policy institutes and academic institutions, such as the Atlantic Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Institute, and the U.S./Middle East Project," a representative of the group told The Cable.
The group organized its first letter in 2008 and its members include Zbigniew Brzezinski, Thomas Pickering, Lee Hamilton, Brent Scowcroft, Paul Volcker, Frank Carlucci, William Fallon, Sandra Day O'Connor, and ... Chuck Hagel.
"It was a group that got together (for these kinds of things) and called themselves the Bipartisan Group," said Larry Korb, defense expert at the Center for American Progress.
And of course the Left thinks this is wonderful.
Steve Clemons, a long-time supporter of Hagel's, said there's nothing wrong with Benter's activity and pointed out that the anti-Hagel crowd is superbly well funded by undisclosed rich donors.
"Sheldon Adelson and Irving Moscowitz are regulars at this and I think it is great that progressive funders step forward to support a fair and honest discourse on these issues," he said. "There's been too little funding put behind candidates like Hagel and too much funding spent on the smears. It's nice to see some balance."
Undisclosed? Adelson's donations were much more transparent than Benter's donation to J Street, which has not been acknowledged to this day. And isn't it funny that every time I see references to Adelson's business, they include words like 'mogul' or 'magnate,' while those words are never used about Benter?

Speaking of which, will we see the New York Times editorializing that it's immoral to take money from Benter as they did about Adelson?

Who says there's no double standard in the United States?

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