British Labour lawmaker who accused Israel envoy of dual loyalties gains senior posts

A British lawmaker who once accused a Jewish ambassador to Israel of dual loyalty will serve as a senior opposition leader.

Paul Flynn, a Labour Party lawmaker from Wales since 1987, was named shadow secretary of state for Wales and shadow leader of the House of Commons this week.

The appointment comes shortly after a report on anti-Semitism within the party saying it is not overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism, but there is an “occasionally toxic atmosphere.” The report’s 20 recommendations did not include permanently banning offenders, but urged party members to be “vigilant against subtler and invidious manifestations” of anti-Semitism.

Labour in recent months has seen the suspension of at least 20 members, including at the senior level, for anti-Semitic hate speech that critics say party leader Jeremy Corbyn is not doing enough to curb.

In 2011, Flynn said that Britain’s ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, “was serving the interests of the Israeli government.”

“I do not normally fall for conspiracy theories, but the ambassador has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist and he has previously served in Iran, in the service,” said Flynn.

Challenged to defend his comments by the Jewish Chronicle, a London-based Jewish newspaper, Flynn said the ambassador to Israel should be “someone with roots in the UK [who] can’t be accused of having Jewish loyalty.”

Flynn’s comments were widely condemned by British officials. He denied the comments were anti-Semitic.

Polish party leader receives anti-Semitic death threat

A Polish lawmaker from a political party with a strong anti-racism agenda said her party leader received a handwritten, anti-Semitic death threat whose author signed it “Sniper.”

The note, which is presumably addressed to the leader of the Modern Party, Ryszard Petru, read: “A bird that shits over its nest needs to be shot. Time unknown, Jewish son of a bitch. Sniper.”

On Monday, Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, a lawmaker for the party headed by Petru, who is not Jewish,published a photo of the note on Twitter.

Earlier that day, the Modern Party, which in the 2015 election won 30 seats out of 460 in the Polish parliament, presented its program for combating discrimination. It proposed several steps to increase protection for homosexuals and people with disabilities.

This complements its three-point program to combat hate speech and hate crimes that features proposed changes to the penal code that would make hate speech against certain groups subject to especially strict punishment.

“Poland has a problem with hate speech and this is visible in soccer matches, but not only there,” said Jonny Daniels, founder of the From the Depths group, which promotes Holocaust commemorations in Poland. “Prosecutors often do nothing about it.”

The program presented by the Modern Party and action by other entities in Poland “gives the general hope that the issue will be taken seriously, not as a fringe theme anymore,” Daniels said.

The death threat shows “the seriousness of the issue,” he added, “which most certainly cannot be taken lightly.”

Galloway probed for declaring his British constituency an ‘Israel-free zone’

Police in Britain are looking into complaints against a lawmaker who called for his constituency to be “declared an Israel-free zone.”

George Galloway of the far-left Respect Party made the call during a speech over the weekend in Leeds, prompting an investigation by West Yorkshire Police.

“We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford even if any of them had thought of doing so,” Galloway said. “We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel — and you have to do the same.”

Galloway also said that Israeli goods, services and academics were likewise unwelcome. “We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone,” he added.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police told the BBC police has received two complaints againt Galloway in connection to his speech in Leeds.

Discrimination on the basis of nationality or race is illegal in Britain, as is inciting to hatred.

Galloway has said Israel should be abolished and replaced with a bi-national state. He called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas an “American stooge.”

Asked about Galloway’s statement, David Ward of the left-wing Liberal Democrats party said “Israel-free zone was a nice sound bite,” but any boycott had to be nationwide.

Last year, Ward was suspended from his party for three months for writing that he was “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Ward is now facing new disciplinary scrutiny for writing last month on Twitter: “The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes.”

On Thursday, Nick Clegg, a British deputy prime minister and the leader of Ward’s party, said the government would announce a suspension of Britain’s arms export licenses to Israel if it resumes its attacks in Gaza.

British lawmaker loses post over Nazi-themed party

A British lawmaker was fired from his job working for a senior Conservative Party minister after attending a Nazi-themed party.

Aiden Burley, 32, a parliamentary private secretary for Transport Secretary Justine Greening, was dismissed on Dec. 19, a week after photos of his presence at the stag party at a French ski resort came to light. At least one party participant dressed up in an SS officer’s uniform, and the guests toasted to the Nazi Party and the Third Reich.

Prime Minister David Cameron on Dec. 19 ordered a full investigation into the incident following reports that Burley had been responsible for ordering the SS uniform costumes.

It is illegal in France to wear or exhibit in public Nazi-era memorabilia or copies of such memorabilia.

Burley apologized for the incident with an “unreserved, wholehearted and fulsome apology” in a letter to the London-based Jewish Chronicle newspaper.

“On reflection, I wish I had left as soon as I had realized what was happening,” he wrote. “What was happening was wrong and I should have completely dissociated myself from it. I had a choice, and I made the wrong choice NOT to leave. I apologize for this error of judgment.”

Burley was elected to the House of Commons as a member of Parliament for Cannock Chase in 2010.

Shas lawmaker chides Shalit for his Shabbat at the beach

A lawmaker from the haredi Orthodox Shas Party said Gilad Shalit should have spent his first Shabbat of freedom not at the beach but praying in synagogue.

Meshulam Nahari also said during a Shas convention this week that the 25-year-old soldier should have recited the benediction of deliverance in synagogue, a Jewish prayer of thanksgiving recited when someone survives a difficult or dangerous time, Ynet reported.

Photos of Shalit at the beach were published in the Israeli daily Haaretz; a Haaretz photographer had been camping on the beach with his family when he saw the Shalits arrive early in the morning.

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has called on Nahari to help bring Shalit closer to Judaism, Nahari said according to Ynet.

Nahari invited the Shalit family to come to his home to say the benediction prayer, Ynet reported.

Shalit was freed last month in a prisoner swap for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails after spending more than five years in captivity. The Israeli media has for the most part respected the family’s wish for privacy.

British Jewish lawmaker apologizes for ‘Jews again’ remark

A British lawmaker has apologized for insulting a fellow Jewish lawmaker and Labor Party member during a debate in the House of Commons.

During a debate Wednesday on plans to change the law of universal jurisdiction, Gerald Kaufman turned to a lawmaker sitting next to him and said, “Here we are, the Jews again,” as pro-Israel lawmaker Louise Ellman rose to refute a claim by the Labor Party’s Ann Clwyd that the lawmakers were trying to change the law—making it more difficult to issue an arrest warrant against a suspected international war criminal—to appease the Israeli government.

An arrest warrant was issued in December 2009 for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni after she was scheduled to visit the country to speak before a Jewish organization. Livni did not make the trip.

The comments by Kaufman, who is Jewish but known for strong anti-Israel views, were picked up by a neighboring lawmaker’s microphone.

“I regret if any remarks I made in the chamber caused offense. If they did, I apologize,” Kaufman said in a statement released by the Labor Party.

Ellman reportedly has made a formal complaint to the party’s leadership.

Radio host threatens to oust Minn. lawmaker over invocation objections

A conservative radio host suggested that he would work to unseat a Minnesota state senator who opposed a pastor’s invocation in the statehouse for being nonsectarian.

An invocation earlier this month by the Rev. Dennis Campbell, a conservative Baptist, mentioned Jesus Christ three times. Campbell’s invocation had prompted state Sen. Terri Bonoff, a Democrat who is Jewish, to ask the body’s leadership to change the standard letter given to clergy to say that it requires prayer to be “interfaith and nonsectarian” rather than the current “request.” Bonoff told The Associated Press that the invocation made her “highly uncomfortable.”

Campbell told Conservative radio host Bradlee Dean over the weekend that Jewish members of the Senate should not be offended by the prayer since Jesus was a Jew. He also said he thought that America’s Founding Fathers would have supported the prayer.

Dean is the founder of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, a Christian youth ministry that holds assemblies in public schools. He suggested that Campbell’s ministry work against Bonoff’s re-election in 2012.

“Maybe what we need to do is get her name eradicated,” Dean said, according to the Minnesota Independent. “She’s looking to get rid of who we are as a people. Well, then, why don’t we help her possibly leave?”

Campbell described what happened after the invocation.

“After the prayer we were ushered out to the back room there and I had one or two people that opposed the prayer—and they were both Jewish folks—to one of them I said, ‘I want you to know that as Christians that we really love the Jews,’ ” Campbell told Dean and his radio sidekick, Jake McMillian. “He made a comment that they weren’t interested in our love so much as respect.”

Norwegian lawmaker denies Holocaust

Members of a Norwegian lawmaker’s own party have called for his resignation after he publicly denied the Holocaust.

Labor Party lawmaker Anders Mathisen reportedly told the Finnmarken newspaper that the Holocaust never happened and challenged readers to prove him wrong.

“There is no evidence the gas chambers or mass graves existed,” he told the newspaper, according to reports. “Even reputable Holocaust historians have admitted it cannot be established.”

Mathisen reportedly has spent months researching World War II concentration camps and is advocating changing history books, according to the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism. He also published his reported his “findings” on his Facebook page.

Mathisen reportedly has accused Holocaust survivors of exaggerating their stories. He also said that the public has been brainwashed into believing in the Holocaust by films such as “Schindler’s List,” according to the forum.

The lawmaker has refused to resign from the party.

“Holocaust survivors are aghast at the morally repugnant comments of a Norwegian member of Parliament,” Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said in a statement. “They are an insult to the memory of all victims of Nazi brutality, Jew and non-Jew.”

Steinberg called for Mathisen’s expulsion from political office and removal from the Labor Party.

“It was not until the 1990s that Norway began to confront its collaboration with the deportation of Jews and the plunder of their property during the Nazi occupation,” the statement concluded. “The manner in which they deal with MP Mathisen is a test of whether those historical lessons were learned.”

Irish Cabinet swears in lone Jewish lawmaker

Ireland’s only Jewish member of parliament was appointed to the country’s Cabinet as the new government was sworn in.

Alan Shatter was sworn in Wednesday as justice minister in a coalition of his center-right Fine Gael Party and the liberal Labor Party. He represents Dublin South, where most of Ireland’s Jews live.

The appointment marks the culmination of 30 years in national politics for Shatter, during which he made a name for himself as a reformer of Ireland’s conservative family laws.

Shatter also is well known as a staunch supporter of Israel. While serving on the committee for foreign affairs during the monthlong Gaza war in 2008-09, he had highly charged confrontations with anti-Zionist historian Ilan Pappe and anti-Israel Sinn Fein representative Aengus O Snodaigh.

Shatter is the second Jewish Cabinet minister in Ireland’s history. Mervyn Taylor served in the 1990s.

Israel comment spurs calls for lawmaker’s resignation

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has joined a growing list of politicians calling for the resignation of a senior member of Parliament who questioned Israel’s right to exist.

Harper said Libby Davies, deputy leader and house leader of the opposition New Democratic Party, should step aside following her comments at an anti-Israel rally earlier this month in Vancouver.

Asked in a video interview whether the “occupation of Israel” began in 1948 or 1967, Davies replied, ” ‘48 … It’s the longest occupation in the world.”

In the House of Commons, Harper called Davies’ remark “a fundamental denial of Israel’s right to exist. It repeats the kinds of comments that were made by [veteran White House journalist] Helen Thomas on which she was forced to resign, and the member of the NDP who said that should be forced to resign as well.”

Liberal Party foreign affairs critic Bob Rae also called on Davies to resign her leadership roles, calling her comment “an appalling statement for a member of Parliament to make.”

On her website, a contrite Davies wrote that her comment “was a serious and completely inadvertent error; I apologize for this and regret any confusion it has caused.

“I have always supported a two-state solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have never questioned Israel’s right to exist and the Palestinian’s right to a viable state. I reject the allegation that I hate Israel, and I reject the assertion that I said that Israel is illegitimate or an abomination. Neither are true.”

NDP leader Jack Layton said Davies’ views are “not party policy,” and he showed no sign of stripping Davies from leadership positions—a move that B’nai Brith of Canada had sought.

Weighing His Options

Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg strides through his district offices at a pace usually reserved for a
commuter late to catch and early morning flight to Sacramento — a situation with which the busy politician is
all too familiar. Here, within the confines of his home turf, his energy bounces off the walls, only slightly
contained by his gracious manner.

Robert “Call me Bob” Hertzberg is the most likely candidate to replace his close friend, the popular
Antonio Villaraigosa, as speaker of the state Assembly — that is, if he doesn’t decide to follow the path of
other prominent Los Angeles lawmakers and pursue a run for city government.

“Do I want to be speaker? The answer is yes. Am I actively seeking the job? The answer is yes,” Hertzberg
said. “But the one thing I’ve learned in politics is that you can never fall in love with it or with your position in
it. This job is very difficult; it takes every bit of energy I’ve got. So while I am interested in being speaker, I
need to work through that first and then decide whether to run for city attorney.”

Unlike prospective opponents such as Councilman Michael Feuer, Hertzberg is well known throughout the
city in areas such as South Central and East Los Angeles. Hertzberg’s ties to the emerging powerhouse
that’s the Latino community run deep, dating back to the beginning of his political career as a canvasser
for the Democratic Party in East Los Angeles in the mid-1970s.

“It wasn’t planned by design; I didn’t even know those bridges [between the Jewish and Latino
communities] needed to be built,” he said. “All I knew was that I wanted a ‘real’ political experience. So
much of politics in the Jewish community in the 1970s centered around fund raising and writing checks. I
wanted something more grass-roots. That was how I got involved with the Eastside, because the politics
there were more face to face.”

But how will Jewish-Latino relations fare if Villaraigosa, who is expected to run for mayor of Los Angeles,
ends up in a race against another likely candidate, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky? Both men have
strong ties to the Latino and Jewish communities from which they respectively sprang, with some
crossover. Will it mean another Katz-Alarcon situation?

Hertzberg says no.

“I honestly don’t think it would be that bad,” he said. “Antonio has a very good relationship with the Jewish
community. He’s not a race baiter; even if people tried to provoke him into it, I don’t think he would take the

Hertzberg represents the 40th Assembly District, which encompasses Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Reseda
and parts of Encino and Canoga Park. He lives in Sherman Oaks with his wife, Cynthia Telles, an
instructor at UCLA Medical School’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, and their three sons from previous
marriages. Prior to his election in 1996, he served on the Los Angeles County Quality and Productivity
Commission, as well as chair of the California Advisory Commission on Youth (1978-79) and as a
member of the California State Board of Pharmacy (1984-88). From 1991 to 1995, he chaired the Dean’s
Council of Hebrew Union College and was also vice president of the American Jewish Committee.

Within the Assembly, Hertzberg is known for his affable nature (“Watch out, he hugs,” warned a fellow
journalist) and his ability to work both sides of the aisle. Hertzberg fought for — and won — the Assembly’s
approval of the controversial AB 39, which required all managed-care plans to cover prescription
contraceptives. The measure, coupled with Senate Bill 41, authored by state Sen. Jackie Speier, D-San
Mateo/San Francisco, will put an end to 39 years of discrimination against women, who pay substantially
more for birth control than men, according to Hertzberg’s staff. The legislature had visited the issue every
year for the previous four years, but three prior bills had been vetoed by then-Gov. Pete Wilson.

As for his work within the Jewish community, Hertzberg recently joined forces with Assemblyman Darrell
Steinberg, D-Sacramento, on several bills in response to the recent bombings of three Sacramento-area
synagogues, including one measure to support building a permanent institution in Sacramento to teach
about tolerance and discrimination.

Steinberg called Hertzberg “a great leader.”

“He combines all the important qualities of leadership: He is highly intelligent, he understands people, and
he understands that being a legislator is largely about solving problems,” Steinberg said. “He’s also a very
decent person, which is significant. When you have great responsibility like he does, you need to be
guided by a solid inner core, and Bob’s got that.”

Hertzberg pushes hard for his constituents, even on issues with which he personally does not agree. Take
Valley secession, a very hot issue in his district, which is home to the leaders of Valley VOTE. The
assemblyman said he is “not pro-secession,” yet he pushed for the state legislature to shell out $1.8 million
for the secession study. He said it was only fair that the state foot part of the bill, since state guidelines rule
the secession process.

“I believe the people have a right to petition their government,” Hertzberg said. “There is a sense,
legitimately so, that the Valley is not getting our fair share. Things used to be different when I was growing
up and people drove into the city to work. But now I read in a study that 60 percent of the people who live in
the Valley work in the Valley.”

Hertzberg strongly believes that, should the break-up of the Valley from the city of Los Angeles go through,
it would be better to break off into smaller cities than one “Valley City.” He and his staff have spent several
months collecting information into a report that compares the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, the
latter of which is composed of independent cities, including Glendale and Pasadena.

Hertzberg notes that one positive effect of the Valley secession is the surge of interest in local government.
He said he hopes the trend toward “town halls” and community activism continues to grow.

“People getting to know each other is the foundation which government is built,” he said. “I don’t care if you
are a Democrat or a Republican, registered to vote or not registered — if you are part of the community,
you are part of the fabric of government. Part of the problems with today’s politics is that we only look at the
high-propensity voters and not the average family. It’s a mistake to be so limited in our focus.”

A Taste of Real Politics

One of Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg’s greatest concerns is the lack of young Jews interested in politics
these days. That is why, Hertzberg said, he actively recruited a high percentage of Jewish students to fill
the 45 internship slots accorded his office.

“Our greatest successes as a people throughout history, particularly in the United States, has been our
interest in getting involved in the community. We must continue to encourage that involvement,” Hertzberg

The Summer Internship Program runs from June through August, although many high-school-age students
continue throughout the year. Interns are not paid but often find the opportunity to work in a legislator’s
office a welcome addition to their professional experience.

Justin Levi, 18, of Encino, already knows that he wants a career in politics. He said what he liked best
about working for Hertzberg was the opportunity to have a hand in policy-making. Levi spent the summer
working on a research team for a report that compared the cities of the San Gabriel Valley to those of the
San Fernando Valley, a report that Hertzberg hopes will make a difference in how the Valley secession
study plays out.

“You get to do real work here, not just filing and copying,” said Levi. “I like the project I’m working on
because Valley secession is such a big issue. To actually have a role in determining the opinions of
elected officials on that issue is a great experience.”

Levi said the one area he found most challenging about working in a government office was the sluggish

“I don’t want to say the legislature is inefficient, but it is a slow process, and to see how slowly everything
moves can be frustrating,” he said.

While some interns are, like Levi, on a definite career path, others become interns unsure of their political
future. Although Aaron Teeter’s parents see him as lawyer or lobbyist material, Teeter, 19, is not so sure.

“It’s a lot more tedious than I thought it would be — a lot of work and a high stress level,” Teeter said. “The
assemblyman really hustles. I’ve never seen someone fly so much between two cities.”

Teeter, a national champion in parliamentary debate, said he appreciates the experience of working for a
legislator like Hertzberg.

“I’d become so cynical about politics in modern American society. But he really tries to appease
everyone,” Teeter said. “He’s a great man and he works his heart out. Term limits don’t seem to frighten
him; he seems anxious to get more young people into government. ”

‘One of the Most Dismal Sessions Ever’

Asked to discuss the accomplishments of the 105th Congress, which erupted last week in a frenzy of last-minute wheeling and dealing as lawmakers tried to avert another politically costly government shutdown, Rep. Ben Cardin’s response was succinct.

“It will be a very brief conversation,” said the Maryland Democrat, a senior member of the Jewish delegation in the House.

Cardin’s bleak assessment is shared by Jewish activists, who were thwarted on issues ranging from Social Security and Medicare reform to workplace protections for Sabbath-observing Jews.

Congress passed significant legislation, including a measure intended to fight religious persecution abroad, and it presided over the first balanced budget in decades.

But the session was dominated by well-financed special-interest groups and an unprecedented level of partisan rancor, according to several Jewish legislators.

And for months, lawmakers have been fiddling a song of impeachment while world economies burn and critical problems such as weapons proliferation pile up. The relentless focus on President Clinton’s sex life had a direct and negative impact on a number of priority issues for the Jewish community, including a major religious liberty bill.

Jewish activists put much of the blame on what many see as a Republican leadership increasingly dominated by the party’s right wing. But the Democrats weren’t exactly blameless.

“The Republicans were excessively partisan, and the Democrats were disorganized and ineffective,” said a staffer for a Democratic legislator. “There was little cooperation between the White House and the Democratic leadership. Combine that with the fact that President Clinton was weakened by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and it adds up to one of the most dismal sessions ever.”

For Jewish groups active on the domestic front, the 105th Congress could have been worse — but not much. Rep. Cardin ticked off some of the failings:

“On the big-ticket items like the budget, we took a Band-Aid approach,” he said. “The way the appropriations bills were handled was a disaster. Major education initiatives went nowhere; there were no accomplishments on tax reform or health care reform, which were hyped as ‘must-pass’ items. It’s the second Congress in a row that’s failed to act on important environmental issues.”

More worrisome, he said, was the failure of legislators to start dealing with the long-term problems facing the Social Security system.

“The session will be known primarily for its investigations, none of which has resulted in any changes in policy,” Cardin said. “It’s been a wasted opportunity and a tragedy for the country.”

Many Jewish activists agreed.

Sammy Moshenberg, Washington director for the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), said that “a number of very promising legislative initiatives were just dropped, including additional funding for child care, the Violence Against Women Act, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Patient’s Bill of Rights.”

The tobacco settlement bill — which the administration hoped would help finance a number of social and education initiatives — and major campaign finance legislation fell victim to big-money lobbying from opponents, she said.

The biggest cause of legislative gridlock, she said, was “excessive partisan bickering.”

“There’s a lot more politics being played on the international scene,” said Rep. Cardin. “We put off dealing with the IMF [International Monetary Fund]; it’s embarrassing how we’ve treated the U.N. There’s clearly a neo-isolationist trend in Congress that’s weakening the United States internationally.”

Orthodox activists who generally track a more conservative course on Capitol Hill found more to like about the 105th Congress, but they, too, expressed frustration about issues left undone — including school vouchers. Congress failed to override a presidential veto on a voucher plan for the District of Columbia. Orthodox groups favored the plan, while liberal and church-state organizations were vehemently opposed.

“We had some important victories, including the expansion of ‘charitable choice,'” said Abba Cohen, Washington director for Agudath Israel of America. “But they were overshadowed by the fact that we were unable to make progress on our top priorities — the Religious Liberty Protection Act [RLPA] and the Workplace Religious Freedom Act [WFRA] That made this session very disappointing.”

Cohen, too, criticized the partisan excesses of the 105th.

“There was a great deal of posturing for the election,” he said. “Issues that came up were being evaluated almost entirely in terms of their election value. That always happens, but this year it happened much earlier. And that makes it much harder to get business done.”

OU Voters Guide

With congressional elections just three weeks away, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America is issuing its first-ever guide for voters around the country.

But unlike guides distributed by groups such as the Christian Coalition, the OU booklet will not rate incumbents and challengers; instead, the guide simply lays out the group’s top domestic and international issues.

“We’re not interested in providing scorecards,” said Nathan Diament, head of the group’s Institute for Public Affairs. “We see this as a basic tool for helping our constituents focus on the issues that are important to us — and for informing candidates about what issues our community thinks are critical.”

The guide indicates support for implementation of a resolution calling on the administration to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and for congressional letters opposing U.S. pressure on the Netanyahu government.

The OU also gives the nod to candidates who support school voucher plans and a scheme for “education savings accounts” that will help parents pay for private-school tuition. Both are opposed by more liberal Jewish groups.

At least 8,000 copies of the guide will be distributed by synagogues around the country, and the document will be available on the OU’s web site.

Meanwhile, the Christian Coalition is taking a more aggressive approach to the upcoming congressional elections. The group’s “Blueprint for Victory” lays out a $2.7 million plan for voter registration and a “get-out-the-Christian vote” effort.

In 1996, the Federal Election Commission filed suit, charging that the group, despite its claim to be a nonpartisan educational organization, was operating as a partisan Republican advocate. At the center of that controversy was the group’s detailed voters guides. — James Besser