Just two days after Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, was widely blamed for the stunning loss of Republican Roy Moore in the special Alabama U.S. Senate election, Bannon is slated to be the keynoter at tonight’s Manhattan fund-raiser for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley, L.I.) — and Democrats are having a field day with it.
“Zeldin fund-raises with Steve Bannon, supporter of alleged child molester,” read a press release distributed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Zeldin, one of only two Jewish Republicans in the House, was asked by The Jewish Week to comment about Bannon as his headliner given Moore’s upset loss. In an email, he sidestepped the question, saying: “Moore should have stepped aside when the allegations came out, and I said so publicly.”
The Democrats’ press release said Zeldin would be raising “campaign cash from donors who have no moral qualms about spending thousands of dollars for an audience with a man who supported an alleged child molester. That Zeldin would partner with the editor of Breitbart, which Bannon called ‘the platform for the alt-right’ should come as no surprise to those paying attention to Zeldin’s words over the past year. After all, Zeldin defended President [Donald] Trump’s comments on the violence in Charlottesville, Va., and blamed ‘multiple sides’ for the violence committed by pro-Nazi white supremacists.”
Although the fundraiser is scheduled to be held in Manhattan, its location has been kept a secret. Zeldin’s office would only confirm that it was still scheduled to be held. The Democrats’ press release said “it’s almost as if Zeldin is embarrassed to be seen with a supporter of an alleged child molester.”
Nevertheless, demonstrators are still planning to protest the event by rallying at 5 p.m. outside of the offices of one of the fundraisers’ hosts, Wayne Berman, at 277 Park Ave. A number of groups will be represented in the protest, including Bend the Arc Jewish Action.
Bend the Arc Jewish Action has also decried the event, saying in a press release that “Bannon proudly provides a platform for a white nationalism that frequently demonizes people of color, Jews, and other minorities.”
“As chief strategist to President Trump, he helped develop policies such as the Muslim Ban, which target and marginalize millions of people in the U.S.,” added one of the group’s organizers,Kayla Glick. “That’s why Bend the Arc Jewish Action coordinated protests and petitions that pushed for his removal from the administration. It is deeply disturbing that Rep. Zeldin would ally himself with this enemy of our community and its values.”
Perry Gershon, one of five Democratic candidates who will be running in a primary next June for the chance to unseat Zeldin in November, issued a statement critical of Bannon headlining tonight’s fundraiser.
“Steve Bannon and Lee Zeldin are cut from the same cloth, dangerous fear mongers that don’t represent our shared values as Americans,” he said. “Bannon’s priorities this month were electing a pedophile to the Senate in Alabama and raising money for Lee Zeldin in New York. Instead of standing together, Lee Zeldin should have denounced his hateful words, disinvited him from Long Island, and disassociated himself from Bannon once, and for all. It’s why we need change now, more than ever. And why we need a strong, progressive voice to stand against the hate and defeat Zeldin.”
A fundraiser House Speaker Paul Ryan had scheduled to host for Zeldin was canceled last month. The cancelation was reportedly to punish Zeldin for voting against the House-approved sweeping tax overhaul bill.