Wednesday, January 05, 2011

J Street Paid Thousands to PR Firm Owned by Its President

J Street is the left-wing Jewish political organization whose philosophy is to "support" Israel by loud public criticism of all of its actions and policies, and by advocating peace at any price, including especially weakening Israel's national security. Consequently, it quickly became the favorite Jewish communal organization of the Obama White House. For example, Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, did not attend J Street's annual conference in October 2009, but senior Obama Administration officials, including national security advisor James Jones, were delighted to participate.

Now a Washington Times news story has revealed that J Street also has a second agenda, namely lining the pockets of a PR firm in which J Street founder and President Jeremy Ben-Ami (photo top LEFT) owns a 15% interest. The Washington Times reports that Ben-Or consulting charged J Street, a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organization, $56,000 over a six-month period.

Ben-Ami has denied any conflict of interest, saying in a statement released through a spokesperson that even though he started Ben-Or and still retains a 15% shareholder's interest in the firm, he relinquished "all rights to on-going compensation" from the company when he left the firm in 2000. However, that statement belies the fact that no common stock shareholder of a corporation ever has a right to "on-going compensation." Rather, shareholders have a right in dividends and distribution from the company, as determined by the corporation's board of directors. Also, the value of a shareholder's stock is directly related to the earnings of the corporation.

Moreover, Ben-Ami has shown less than complete fidelity to the truth in the past. He repeatedly publicly denied that J Street had any connection with the left-wing and anti-Israel billionaire George Soros, only to apologetically confirm another Washington Times scoop this past September, which revealed that Soros and his children had donated $245,000 to J Street in the year of its founding, 2008, and another $500,000 since, about seven percent of J Street's total fundraising.

The current Times story notes, "According to nonprofit analysts, Mr. Ben-Ami's stake creates a conflict of interest that runs afoul of ethical — if not legal — restrictions on acts of 'self-dealing,' in which an officer in a tax-exempt organization receives undue benefit from that organization's transactions."

As J Street and Ben-Ami continue to dissemble in reaction to this newest revelation concerning its activities, one need only ask how J Street would react to a report of similar self-dealing at the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), which is J Street's favorite whipping boy on account of its steadfast political advocacy for Israel.

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