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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Who the heck is Consolacion Ediscul?

Another lie that was exposed by Eli Lake on Friday was the claim that most of J Street's money came from small donations by American Jews. In fact, aside from the 15% that came from George Soros, 50% came from a woman in Hong Kong named Consolacion Ediscul.
The group's 990 forms -- which I've also obtained and put online for the first time here -- show the group's single largest contribution, in the odd sum of $811,697 coming from one Consolacion Ediscul of Happy Valley, a Hong Kong suburb. Ediscul, whose name is Filipino, has no presence on Google or Nexis aside from this story, and people I spoke to in Jewish groups left and right had never heard of her.

Spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick tells me the same thing the group told Lake:
She is a business associate of Bill Benter, another J Street supporter from Pittsburgh who solicited Consolacion's gift. It's a large gift, but it should be put in the context of the $11.2 million the J Street family of organizations has raised over the last 2.5 years (full details below).
Ediscul's contribution was just about half of the $1.6 million the group received during the year in question. Spitalnick says that they haven't received any other contributions from Ediscul, and that their operating budget over the last three years for the group's "family of organizations" is $9.5 million.

It is, to say the least, unusual that a group would get half its budget from a foreigner doing a favor to a business associate. I left a message for Benter, who heads a medical transcription company, to ask about how that came about.
Benter, as it turns out, is one of the world's most successful betters on horse races, and Happy Valley, a Hong Kong suburb, is the location of one of the world's largest horse race tracks.

The irony....
President Obama and the White House have expressed concerns about untraced foreign influence on the U.S. political system through donations to tax-exempt "501(c)(4)" nonprofit organizations in recent months.

J Street is a 501(c)(4) organization that is allowed to remain tax-exempt as long its political activities are not the primary purpose of the group. J Street also has formed a political action committee, or PAC, the standard way for interest groups, corporations and labor unions to contribute directly to political candidates and parties.

Mr. Ben Ami said he agreed with Mr. Obama "about the need for overall reform of the influence of money in our system. But 501(c)(4)s are allowed to accept money from foreign nationals."

So as Obama is off crusading against the imagined threat of conservative foreign-funded third-party groups, here’s J Street, with its close ties to the administration, caught red-handed.
And we already know that J Street took Arab money - Saudi in particular - as well. Can you say "hypocrisy"?

If you'd like to see some pictures of Ms. Ediscul, you can find two here. Professor Jacobson also asks an important question at the end of that last post:
The commenter who noted these pages referred to The Advantage Trust as being related to Blackrock investments, but it appears to be controlled by or at least related to William Benter, the successful businessman / gambler mentioned in the Ben Smith post. So if the elusive Ms. Esdicul contributed to the charity in Honk Kong on behalf of The Advantage Trust, was her contribution to J-Street also using money from The Advantage Trust and/or Benter?
Or perhaps from someone else. Hmmm.

To sum up,
So, while JStreet has portrayed itself, and has been portrayed by many in the media, as a reaction of liberal American Jews against AIPAC, half its funding in its launch year came from someone in Hong Kong, and another 15% from the Soros family.
And here's another lie from J Street:
By the fall of 2006, he and Morton Halperin—former aide to Presidents Clinton, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson—were meeting with representatives of America’s leading Zionist dove organizations, on the one hand, and of liberal foundations and donors on the other. Perhaps the most eagerly awaited participant at a meeting they held on October 25 was Hungarian-born financier and philanthropist George Soros. Soros had founded the Open Society Institute, where Halperin served as director of American advocacy. Though Jewish and a Holocaust survivor, Soros has rarely donated to Israel-related causes and had provoked an uproar a year earlier by harshly criticizing AIPAC in The New York Review of Books. Still, Ben-Ami hoped the billionaire activist would back his still unnamed project, drawing enough attention and additional donors to amass the several hundred thousand dollars he estimated was needed to launch.

Soros, too, knew what his backing could mean and had his answer ready: It was “no.” He “walked into the room with a prepared statement that announced that he would not be a part of the project because he felt his involvement would be counter-productive,” as Ben-Ami explains (and Soros has confirmed in print). Those concerns were borne out. Some opponents still think of J Street as a covert Soros project. In a rueful nod to J Street’s lingering Soros taint, Ben-Ami gripes good-naturedly, “We got tagged as having his support, without the benefit of actually getting funded!”
But of course, when Moment Magazine published that article in its March/April 2010 edition, J Street had gotten funding from George Soros - and lots of it. More on Soros to come.


At 3:28 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

All you needed to know about J-Street.

But then people have known about it for awhile now.


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