Alan Fine, the Republican candidate for Fifth Congressional District released a press statement Thursday warning voters of Keith Ellison’s “risky” connection to individuals that have ties to terrorism.
“Ellison is accepting large contributions from leaders of an organization that Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York has said ‘we know has ties to terrorism’ and Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has said is ‘unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect,'” said Fine in a press release that’s also sent to 10,000 homes in the Fifth District. The organization referred to in the statement is Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Since Ellison’s primary victory, Fine’s campaign mounted massive attacks on Ellison’s vulnerable past. But Fine offers nothing new in this press release.
“Nihad Awad, [CAIR] Executive Director, and a major donor to the Ellison Campaign, has declared in the past, ‘I am in support of the Hamas movement.” Fine said.
Awad made that statement well before Hamas carried out its first suicide attack against Israel.
But Awad, who befriended Ellison when they were students at the University of Minnesota, is being praised by President Bush, who visited The Islamic Center of Washington D.C. on Sept. 17, 2001. He appears in a photo with the President on that day.(He’s the man standing next to the left of the President.)
“Like the good folks standing with me,” the President said, referring to Muslim leaders who flanked by him, including Awad, “The American people were appalled and outraged at [Sept. 11] attacks.”
Fine’s campaign said the president’s statement was not directed at Awad personally, but at a group of Muslim leaders in the D.C. Islamic Center.
“Many things have come to light since that statement,” said Chris Tiedeman, who said he consults Fine’s campaign on communication issues. “Top U.S. Senators expressed concerns over CAIR’s ties to terrorism, and we have a good reason to believe them.”
Asked why not believe a fellow Republican president instead of two Democratic Senators, Tiedeman said the Senators’ statement was made after the president’s.
Muslim leaders see Fine’s attacks against Ellison emblematic of the GOP’s “scare tactic.”
Corey Saylor, the government relations director for CAIR said that the GOP is swaying away from real issues that are important to voters and is focusing on fear-mongering.
“It’s an unfortunate thing for our democracy,” he said.
If Awad is engaged in any illegal activity, he said, “The FBI would have caught him longtime ago before the GOP did, because he regularly works with them on Muslim issues. “Does the [GOP} has access to something the FBI hasn’t?”
No response will be coming out of the Ellison campaign, according to Bridget Cusick, who’s the communications director.
“You’ll see a response from us when Fine starts to talk about issues and stops muddling,” she said.