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Newman loses J Street support to Casten

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* First, a bit of background from a few weeks ago

Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL) is facing an onslaught of criticism for a contract she signed with a political rival, in which—according to congressional investigators—she likely agreed to hand Professor Iymen Chehade a six-figure salary in exchange for him not running against her in a Democratic primary. But documents appear to show that a cozy job and big title weren’t the only things Newman negotiated.

In an Oct. 2018 email to Newman, Chehade memorialized that he and Newman had met earlier in the week and discussed a proposal where Newman would not only pledge to hiring Chehade, but would also “commit” to a number of anti-Israel policy positions.

Among the positions Chehade laid out were “opposing any legislation that entails ADDITIONAL military sales or aid to Israel,” supporting legislation that achieves “justice and self-determination” for Palestinians, and organizing “fact-finding” delegations to Palestine and other Middle East countries. Chehade even said he wanted “complete discretion” over the itinerary for such a trip.

“At no point will Newman accept partial or complete funding for congressional delegations from the [Jewish National Fund], any organization affiliated with the Israeli government, or any organization that embraces Israeli’s Zionist or colonial project,” Chehade said.

* More…

* However, there are some very important caveats

A Palestinian professor said that he was denied a job because of his views on Israel and has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Illinois Congresswoman Marie Newman. Iymen Chehade is Professor of Middle Eastern History at Columbia College Chicago.

Chehade claims that he had a signed agreement with the progressive Democrat Congresswomen for him to take a senior position in her team in return for dropping out of the 2020 US election in order to give the 57 year old a better chance to oust a pro-Israel candidate. He was denied the job, he claims, because of his strong sympathy with the Palestinian cause. […]

The two began to fall out over a statement from Newman on Palestine. Chehade says he worked with the Congresswomen to draft “a powerful statement in support of Palestinian rights.” Disagreements arose over the content, though, including the position Newman should take on the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In the final draft, Newman says she supported people’s right to boycott, though she did not back the BDS movement herself.

Ultimately, Chehade was disappointed. The Palestine Statement on Newman’s website deleted any reference to the possibility of a single state solution, which Chehade says they agreed on; deleted reference to UN General Assembly Resolution 194 on the right of return and replaced it with a vague reference to the return of refugees; and recognised Israel as a “democratic and Jewish” state.

* More

Newman didn’t hire Chehade as her congressional adviser, a job that is paid for with government funds, and he sued her last year. They settled for undisclosed terms, and he subsequently signed onto her campaign as a foreign affairs adviser. Campaign advisers are paid out of donations to candidates.

Newman has denied any improprieties. Chehade will not comment, citing the non-disclosure component of his settlement with Newman. He is currently running for Congress in Illinois’ redrawn third district.

Newman notably has embraced some of the policies Chehade outlined in his 2018 email: She was one of just nine members of the US House of Representatives who voted last year against $1 billion in additional funds for Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile system. She is also backing a bill by Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., that would withhold funds from Israel based on the number of Palestinian minors in detention.

* And now, this

In a closely watched Chicago-area primary between two incumbent House Democrats, liberal pro-Israel group J Street is throwing its weight behind Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL), J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami told Jewish Insider on Tuesday. Casten is participating in a J Street delegation of House members visiting Israel this week.

J Street had previously endorsed both Casten and his opponent, Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL), prior to a redistricting process that changed the borders of the legislators’ districts. The organization stood by Newman in September when she was one of just eight Democrats to vote against a $1 billion supplemental funding package for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system — legislation that J Street supported. The group held a fundraiser for Newman days after the vote.

J Street spokesperson Logan Bayroff issued a statement of support for Newman in early October, saying J Street PAC was “proud to endorse Rep. Newman, who throughout her time in Congress has been a vocal and principled advocate for diplomacy-first American leadership and Israeli-Palestinian peace.” At the time, Illinois’ new maps had not yet been approved.

“After redistricting placed them both in a race for Illinois’ 6th District,” Bayroff told JI on Tuesday, “we reviewed the race based on a number of factors and ultimately have made the decision this month to endorse Rep. Casten alone in this new head-to-head matchup.”

* More

Bayroff said that the ethics investigation factored into the decision. “We endorsed both of them in 2020 in different districts, but once it became clear it was head to head we have to make a choice,” Bayroff said in an interview. “We have to look at everything going on in the race, and investigation into one candidate is one of the factors one looks into in a race.”

Newman is under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics for allegedly promising Iymen Chehade, a Palestinian-American academic, a job on her congressional staff if he agreed not to run against her in a primary. One of his alleged conditions was that Newman adopt pro-Palestinian stances.


  1. - Blue Dog - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 11:34 am:


  2. - DuPage Dad - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 11:36 am:

    Hope she enjoys her lone term.

  3. - Hmm - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 11:36 am:

    ==and recognised Israel as a “democratic and Jewish” state==

    Well, it is. So….

    To the post at-large: This is a massive YIKES for Newman, and it keeps getting worse.

  4. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 11:39 am:

    I do wonder if Marie Newman is past the point of resigning to avoid continued investigation and federal charges.

    In a relatively safe democratic seat, Marie Newman brings nothing to the table that is worth the very public baggage. If she’s out there signing contracts to prevent opponents entering from the race in exchange for setting them up with a federally funded position in their congressional office it’s a big enough red flag to question and consider what other contracts and agreements are out there that we don’t know about.

    Representative Marie Newman should resign and doing so is in her personal best interests which is something she very clearly understands. I feel sympathy for any legal counsel she has employed who has hopefully made this very candid recommendation.

  5. - New Day - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 11:41 am:

    Buh bye Marie. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  6. - Lord of the Fries - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 11:42 am:

    Really don’t see a path for Newman. Casten has some ethical issues too but not nearly as bad as Newman.

    Which is shame because Casten is just a horrible congressman.

  7. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 11:43 am:

    ===Newman is under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics for allegedly promising Iymen Chehade, a Palestinian-American academic, a job on her congressional staff if he agreed not to run against her in a primary.===

    “Unintended consequences” of a lack of ethical foresight.

    Newman’s ethical issues now seep into other political avenues.

  8. - High Socks - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 11:59 am:

    She should resign if she has dignity left. Horse trading your actual policy positions is beyond pathetic.

  9. - Yesh - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 12:02 pm:

    ==recognised Israel as a “democratic and Jewish” state.==

    I mean, it is. So…..

  10. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 12:10 pm:

    Lack of ethical foresight seems to be an epidemic in the Illinois Democratic Party but our Governor sure is quiet about it.

    He pretends Democrats are all righteous public servants interested in the public good.

    The reality is more than a few elected members are corrupt self dealers.

    JB is not shy calling out his political opponents as unserious carnival barkers sitting at the kiddie table not serious public servants who have a different ideology and vision for the state

  11. - Drop Out Lady - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 12:20 pm:

    Newman should drop out. She is wasting time and money. Dems will need to fight hard to win that seat in November- no need to drag out a primary between a good Rep and a rat ally wounded unethical disaster.

  12. - Amalia - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 12:42 pm:

    What Drop Out Lady said.

  13. - Responsa - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 12:59 pm:

    This ugly saga is one of the most simple and clarifying examples of how the sausage is made I can remember. Marie is toast but perhaps her exposed deals will serve as a deterrent to others on both sides of future dealmaking. One can hope, anyway.

  14. - Senator Clay Davis - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 3:21 pm:

    ==Which is shame because Casten is just a horrible congressman.==

    Not trying to start a comment war, but I’m genuinely curious why you think Casten hasn’t delivered.

  15. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 3:47 pm:

    The good news is that she was caught quickly. Normally we hear about years of shady dealings.

  16. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 23, 22 @ 4:29 pm:

    Republicans all the way

  17. - Old IL Dude - Thursday, Feb 24, 22 @ 8:37 am:

    I live in the soon to be 6th District, and currently Marie is my congressperson. She’s not made a lot of friends here, seems to be tries to promote some South Side “cred” (even though she moved out to LaGrange from Beverly decades ago), but hasn’t really done anything except defeat Lipinski. This scandal is likely to pull her under, it certainly will not appeal to new voters for her, and probably be best for her to drop out. Drip … drip … drip.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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