UPDATED: Democrats attack McDonnell's selection of Malek as government reform chairman
Del. David Englin, a Democrat from Alexandria, blasted Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for choosing longtime Republican donor and activist Fred Malek as chairman of his government reform commission, accusing him of once creating lists of Jews to track and remove from government service.
"Was there really no more qualified individual in Virginia to lead this panel?,'' asked Englin, who is Jewish. "Has he done anything to disavow and make amends for his previous anti-Semitism?"
In September 1988, the Washington Post reported that Malek "compiled figures in 1971 on the number of Jews among top officials of the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the direction of President Nixon, who had ordered Malek to investigate what notes taken by White House aides described as a 'Jewish cabal' at the agency." Less than two months later, two senior bureau officials who were Jewish were removed from their posts and moved to less visible positions in the agency.
Malek was quoted in the story as saying he recalled the incident, and had gathered the statistics, "but in no way did I take part in moving anyone out of the (bureau)." But in memos released in recent years, Malek was shown to have a greater role in moving Jewish officials in the bureau, according to an article in Slate.
Messages to the governor's press office went unanswered today.
Update, 1:30 p.m.:
McDonnell spokeman Tucker Martin released this statement:
"The Governor is engaged in the hard and serious work of making government work better for the citizens of Virginia. Like the President, the Governor also stresses the need for more civility in politics. Citizens want less rhetoric, and more results and opportunity.
:The Governor, Fred Malek and the bipartisan membership of the Government Reform Commission are focused on making government simpler, easier to use and reducing spending. Fred Malek has long been a national business, political and philanthropic leader and, as the former President of Marriott Hotels and Northwest Airlines, is ideally suited to help lead this effort to restructure government."
"We've also received other statements in support of Malek through Martin, which we later verified.
"I have known Fred Malek for more than 20 years and he is a friend for whom I have great respect, trust and admiration,'' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who is Jewish, in a statement. "He is a man of high principle and he has no bias of any kind whatsoever. In addition, Fred is a renowned expert on organization and efficiency, and he brings with him a unique set of skills and experiences that will serve the people of Virginia well. "
"The attacks on Fred Malek for being an anti-Semite are unwarranted,'' said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "Except for one instance, for which he has apologized and atoned for-- acceding to President Nixon's order to compile a list of Jews in government - he has no record of being anti-Jewish. The Anti-Defamation League strongly believes that one mistake does not an anti-Semite make. Mr. Malek has reached out to and maintained good relations with the Jewish community. His appointment by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to the Government Reform Commission is based on Malek's credentials as a political, philanthropic and business leader and should not be controversial. I am pleased to call Fred Malek my friend."
"Fred Malek is a loyal and patriotic American and a staunch supporter of America's ally, Israel,'' said Kenneth Bialkin, chairman of the America-Israel Friendship League. Malek is on the League's board. "I know him personally to be wholly free of bias and he has proved many times over the years his loyalty to the highest principles of freedom, human rights and international tolerance."
According to the Slate article, Malek has engaged in Jewish and pro-Israel philanthropy. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, and Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, both granted indulgences for Malek's 'mistake,' and two of the three employees who were transferred told blogger Steven I. Weiss two years ago that they held no grudge.
U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the second-ranking Republican in the House and the chamber's only Jewish Republican, declined to comment Monday.
Back to original post:
Malek, founder of Thayer Capital Partners, is more recently known as finance chairman to Sen. John McCain in 2008 and adviser to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
On Friday, McDonnell released the names of the 31 members of the Governor's Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring, which will search for ways to shave hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget and make government more user-friendly.
The group will consider closing some of the state's 130 agencies, consolidating accounting and payroll systems, putting more forms online, privatizing state functions and eliminating annual reports. Its most controversial task will be to consider selling the state's 350 liquor stores, which McDonnell pledged to do on the campaign trail last year.
Meanwhile, Paul Goldman, a Richmond lawyer and former head of the state Democratic party, said he was disappointed with McDonnell's choice of Malek because of his lack of experience reforming government. Goldman said he was particularly concerned that Malek served on the board of Fannie Mae from 2002 to 2005 but was not able to see the organization's problems before the subprime mortgage crisis began.
"I think this [commission] is important. It's not supposed to be for show,'' he said. "But I don't know what he's done to get the job."
May 10, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell | Tags: Antisemitism, Bob McDonnell, Fred Malek, Republican
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