The only Republican in California’s Jewish Caucus quits over Trump criticism

August 17, 2017
State Senator Jeff Stone

The only Republican in the California Legislative Jewish Caucus has resigned after it released a statement strongly condemning President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.

State Sen. Jeff Stone of Riverside County said in an Aug. 17 statement that the group “has clearly become a vehicle for a Legislative Caucus that receives state resources to merely criticize our duly elected President.”

Earlier that day, the caucus released a statement criticizing Trump for failing to more strongly condemn a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Responding to reporters’ questions at Trump Tower in New York City on Aug. 15, the president said there was “blame on many sides” for violence in Virginia over the weekend, and that “very fine people” had showed up to the rally.

That led to the caucus’ statement, which reads: “We cannot and will not stand silently by as Trump gives voice to organizations steeped in an ideology of bigotry, hate and violence. President Trump’s words betray American values and morality.”

Responding hours later in a statement, Stone said, “When I was invited to join the Jewish Caucus, I was expressly told that it was a nonpartisan Caucus, and the issues we were going to be involved with would focus on promoting the interests of the Jewish people in California and around the world. Since the election of President Trump, it seems that there has been a divergence from the Caucus’ original mission.”

Stone has supported Trump in the past. In a February op-ed in The Desert Sun, he called the president a leader with a “fresh viewpoint” who is “willing to take action on policies he campaigned on.”

Stone could not immediately be reached for comment.

Jenny Berg, a consultant for Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), the Jewish Caucus’ chair, wrote in an email to the Journal, “Assemblymember Levine regretfully accepts Senator Stone’s resignation and looks forward to working with him on their shared values.”

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