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Saslaw: Democratic offense against Malek a 'mistake'

Rosalind Helderman

The division among Virginia Democrats about the best way to deal with Fred Malek, the chairman of the Gov. Bob McDonnell's new government reform commission, seems to have deepened.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said today that that he was displeased that members of his own party, including Democratic Party of Virginia leadership in Richmond, are continuing to press complaints about Malek, calling it a "mistake" for the party.

"I'm not interested in turning a political nickel on an anti-Semitic charge that in my opinion, and in many others in the Jewish community, is not valid," said Saslaw, who is one of a number of prominent Jews who have supported Malek. "It seems to me, as a party, we've got bigger things to do than this."

As an aide to President Richard Nixon, Malek compiled a list of Jews working in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He has apologized for doing so, but some Democrats believe he has not fully accounted for his actions in that time. Memos have come out in recent years showing that Malek did not just compile a list of Jews but was actively involved with demoting and transferring some of those who appeared on his list, something he had previously denied.

But Saslaw noted Malek is now good friends with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and has been broadly apologetic for his actions in the Nixon years. "Do they just not pay attention to that?" Saslaw said. "You've got a high-ranking senator who is Jewish and friends with this guy, in the opposite party?"

Saslaw's comments will likely be greeted warmly in the governor's office. McDonnell may feel less fuzzy toward the Fairfax Democrat when he hears what Saslaw had to say about privatizing state-run liquor stores....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  June 7, 2010; 6:10 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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