New Twist in Dem Rep. Marie Newman’s Bribery Scandal: Negotiating Anti-Israel Positions

Congressman Marie Newman (D-IL) is facing fierce criticism for a contract she signed with a political opponent in which — according to congressional investigator—It is possible that she agreed to give Professor Iymen Chehade a six-figure salary in exchange for him not running against her in the Democratic primary. But the documents show that a cozy job and a big title weren’t the only things Newman negotiated.

In an October 2018 email to Newman, Chehade remembered that he and Newman had met earlier in the week and discussed a proposal in which Newman would not only commit to hiring Chehade, but “commit” to several position in anti-Israel policy.

Among the views Chehade made were “opposition to any law requiring the sale or ADDITION of military aid to Israel,” in favor of legislation achieving “justice and self-determination” for Palestinians, and organize “fact-finding” missions to Palestine and other Middle Eastern countries. Chehade even said he wanted “full discretion” about the itinerary for such a trip.

“At what point will Newman not accept partial or full funding of congressional delegations from [Jewish National Fund]any organization affiliated with the government of Israel, or any organization that takes on the project of Israeli colonization or Judaism,” said Chehade.

In total, Chehade’s section on positions to which “Newman commits” is 277 words and consists of four bullet points with multiple subsections.

After receiving these requests on October 27, 2018, Newman agreed later that day that it was a “very good discussion” and asked to “think hard” about Chehade’s proposal after she took a closer look at his conditions. Less than a week later, Newman responded to Chehade’s suggestions not with indignation that someone would try to manipulate her policy positions or appear to blackmail her to get a job paid by her. American taxpayers. Instead, Newman wrote: “Most of it looks good. Some concerns – mostly phrases. “

Then she asked to meet in person to discuss, and if Chehade wouldn’t mind coming closer to her house this time.

These terms were not included in the final version of the agreement Newman and Chehade signed, and the final contract notes it “supersedes all other prior agreements and understandings between the parties.” But the mere existence of these discussions in any forum is particularly unusual and is now part of the Ethics Committee’s investigation into Newman.

While Newman has been a strong supporter of Palestine for many years, her voting record and public positions, in fact, closely mirror the listed anti-Israel claims of the Chehade. She has co-responded to many pro-Palestinian statehood bills, including one that would result in “Congressional disapproval of the proposed direct commercial sale to Israel of certain types of weapons and ammunition.”

Newman was also one of eight Democrats who voted against a bill in September to provide $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. The bill passed House 420-9, in the presence of two Democrats.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that, in her 2022 campaign website—Under the “Incidents” tab — only one issue is listed: “Israel/Palestine.”

It opens a three-page document with 12 positions listed, including supporting “the right of the Palestinian people and their supporters to use nonviolent means to protest against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza.”

“As Representative in Congress, I will be there to learn more about the Israel/Palestinian conflict, how the United States can best contribute to achieving a just, equitable, and peaceful resolution. peace to the conflict, as well as the types of legislation that I can support to help the Israelis and Palestinians reach that resolution,” Newman added.

Regardless of her previous stance, the practice of negotiating political positions – as well as potential votes on any topic – is outside the scope of standard congressional ethics, even if such discussions are not finalized in writing as part of the final agreement.

Job negotiations are one thing, but I’ve never heard of a potential member of parliament negotiating the possibility of a final call for their positions.

Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told The Daily: “Negotiating jobs is one thing, but I’ve never heard of a potential member of Congress negotiating. judgment about the possibility of getting the final call for their positions. Beast. Libowitz added that the negotiations between Chehade and Newman inevitably raise ethical questions.

Those ethical questions were only raised when the Congressional Ethics Office – an independent watchdog in Congress – concluded that Newman was “likely” trying to ward off a potential key challenger. agreement and agreed to refer the matter to the Ethics Committee for further investigation.

In 2018, Newman signed a contract that promised Chehade a job on her congressional staffer as a foreign policy adviser should she win the 2020 election. comes with perks: A “private office in the congressional department,” at least one fully paid weekly trip back to Chicago, and an annual salary of $135,000 to $140,000.

When Newman changed his mind about the job, Chehade sued. And after a little legal battle, they settled – with both sides signing a non-disclosure agreement.

Two days after the settlement, on July 1, 2021, Chehade received her first payment for a job on her campaign as a foreign policy adviser. That same day, Newman arrived Stilt house spoke “on behalf of thousands of Palestinian families in the West Bank who are facing the prospect of being deported, demolished and displaced from their homes by the Israeli government.”

On Tuesday, Newman’s campaign declined to comment on whether placing Chehade on the campaign team was part of its settlement. But a review by The Daily Beast of the exhibits released by OCE last week shows how Newman has placed himself in a legally fragile position.

Newman stuck herself to certain arguments when she previously admitted that the deal she signed with Chehade violated congressional rules and that Chehade should not be paid for with campaign funds.

Hi Iymen. Thank you for your submission and very good discussion on all topics. Let me think about all this and let [sic] chat back after I review. Thanks and talk very soon.

Representative Marie Newman (D-IL)

In an effort to fight Chehade’s lawsuit, Newman claimed she was protected by immunity from the federal government — and that her congressional team of attorneys actually acknowledged some key details.

“The agreement is void because it violates public policy,” Douglas Letter, general counsel of the House, wrote in a statement apply to court in the case of last year.

In court, Newman also tried to get away with personally choosing Chehade’s salary, arguing that the titles she allegedly promised him — foreign policy adviser or legislative director — “were covered.” considered legislative in nature” and would have to be paid for with federal funds.

“Congressional staffers are paid with federally appropriated funds, not individual or campaign funds,” apply to court also stated.

Those contradictions were highlighted in the transcript of Newman’s interview with investigators at OCE last September 2, when attorneys asked her if she was comfortable with her admission. — and whether she feels that House’s attorneys have “her best interests at heart.”

When Newman was asked about her interactions with Chehade, she detailed why she ultimately decided to skip the contract and not hire him. He was an unfit person for the job, she said, “extremely disrespectful” and “difficult to get along with the job”. She claims that he often yells at her. His “behaviors” show “very significant red marks”. And she felt he had accomplished one of the two tasks she gave him: writing a policy statement on the Middle East.

What Newman didn’t tell investigators during that downfall was that right at the time, she was paying Chehade $7,500 a month through her political campaign—and actually giving him I became my official foreign policy adviser.

Federal Election Commission records show Chehade finally earned more than $50,000 in the second half of last year, with the first payment coming less than a week after settlement. It’s unclear if OCE’s attorneys were aware of his employment, but Newman certainly wasn’t aware of it.

“He has very good skills on Syria and Palestine. [He] is a good researcher and a strong writer. All right. So he had those skills. But the skills needed for the actual job, he lacked,” the congresswoman told them. “He also exhibits deeply relevant behaviors and interactions.”

Despite all of that, Newman’s current campaign manager, Ben Hardin, told The Daily Beast that Chehade – as the highest-paid employee on the campaign in the second half of 2021 – is considered is “an important member of our team”.

But the magnitude is still unclear. During his removal in August, Newman’s former campaign manager told investigators they had “very little interaction” with Chehade and that he had delivered “several items of delivery such as: part of the settlement” – though, at the time, Chehade had already paid out $20,000 through a campaign fund.

Resident ethics attorneys also questioned the congresswoman about the October 27, 2018 email that made the quid rule the first item considered: that Newman would give him the job “in exchange for it.” ‘ his assurance that he ‘agrees not to publish or submit his candidacy for election to Congressional Representative for the 3rd District of Illinois. The congresswoman replied that “when he sent me this proposal, I was very angry and emotional.” She claimed she was “still quite angry” when she called him a few hours later.

“I remember using obscene words in conversation,” she said.

But emails obtained by investigators showed Newman had a very different tone of voice when she wrote back to him the next day.

“Hello, Iymen,” Newman began. “Thank you for your submission and great discussion on all topics. Let me think about all this and let [sic] chat back after I review. Thanks and talk very soon. ”

Newman dismissed the moral complaints as a partisan witch hunt. But those explanations may hold no place against the Ethics Committee or voters in her county.

Newman is set to finish in a member-to-member primaries in June after a re-division division pits her against Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL), who has about $1 million more in his campaign account versus Newman.

On top of that disparity, Casten’s campaign doesn’t pay someone six figures to advise him on foreign policy.

Hardin told The Daily Beast in a statement, “The only people who have influenced Representative Newman’s work in Congress are her voters.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office again dropped questions about whether Newman was appropriate to continue paying Chehade while the Ethics investigation was ongoing.

Contacted by phone Wednesday night, Chehade declined to comment on his Israeli-Palestinian proposals to Congressman Newman, but told a reporter for The Daily Beast that she should “work.” for a better news organization.”

Roger Sollenberger, William Bredderman and Matt Fuller contributed to this report.

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