By RON KAMPEAS
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Norm Coleman, the chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former senator from Minnesota, is fundraising for a candidate for Senate in that state who once said the GOP is “controlled” by the “Israeli lobby.”
Coleman will host a Feb. 27 fund-raiser for Jason Lewis in Washington. Lewis, a congressman from the state from 2017-2019, hopes to win the GOP primary to face off against incumbent Democratic Sen. Tina Smith.
CNN’s KFile last year uncovered audio from a talk radio show Lewis hosted in 2013 in which he discusses the opposition among some in the pro-Israel community to President Barack Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, a former GOP senator from Nebraska who once referred disparagingly to the “Israel lobby.”
Lewis on the radio show alleged that dual Israeli-American citizens in Congress and in government influenced Israel policy. He named John Bolton, then a former U.N. ambassador, among them, although Bolton is neither a citizen of Israel or Jewish.
“They do have, they do control of the Republican Party right now,” Lewis said then. “The Republican Party is essentially a neo-conservative party that believes in unending support for Israel. A blind loyalty towards Israel is the linchpin of being a good Republican. And when you get those sort of dual loyalties, what happens if it’s not in America’s best interest?”
Lewis also refers to a “very strong American Jewish lobby” to explain U.S. support for Israel but says he does not see that “as a negative.”
Andrew Kaczynski, the CNN reporter who runs KFile, on Feb. 15 posted on Twitter an announcement that Donald Trump Jr. would be speaking at the event.
Coleman, who is hosting the event, lashed out at Kaczynski on Twitter, and said that Lewis in his two years in Congress “was a staunch and consistent champion of Israel.”