CLARIFICATION OF ORTHODOX UNION MEETING WITH CONGRESSMAN JOE SESTAK
The OU takes seriously our responsibilities to advocate on behalf of the Jewish people in America and acheinu b’nei yisrael, our brothers & sisters, b’chol makom sheh’heim, in Israel or around the world. Meetings with elected officials and candidates for office are an opportunity to bring up issues many in the broader Jewish world sometimes do not and to advocate for both individuals and the community.
The OU did host Congressman Sestak on September 1, 2010 & Congressman Toomey was not there.
However, please note:
1. We are not & have not excluded Congressman Toomey. In fact, as is required by the letter & spirit of FEC & IRS laws & regulations (not to mention common sense, good manners and meschlichkeit),we have already issued an invitation to Congressman Toomey for an equivalent meeting. It is up to the Congressman & his staff to give us a date & time. By way of example from past events, we hosted surrogates of both McCain-Palin & Obama-Biden during the 2008 campaign at several locations across the United States. Last year we met separately with then challenger Chris Christie and his opponent, then Governor Jon Corzine. This year, we have met (again, separately) with Marco Rubio & Rep. Kendrick Meek, who are vying for Florida’s Senate seat. On a state level, in Pennsylvania, we hosted Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett, a candidate for governor and in New York, we hosted Republican gubernatorial nominee Rick Lazio (in each case we await their Democratic opponents agreeing to a meeting).
2. The OU CAN NOT, DID NOT & DOES NOT endorse any candidate for ANY office. To do so would violate the OU’s nonprofit status and lead to prosecution by the IRS & the FEC. The meeting was based on a discussion of issues (see below) and does not confer any “stamp” of approval or disapproval on either candidate.
3. Thus, the OU MUST – as a nonprofit 501c3 – subject to IRS rules & the FEC invite either BOTH candidates to equivalent meetings or invite NEITHER. As such, in all cases, we reach out to both the Republican & Democratic nominees in each race and offer to meet with them in equivalent settings (again, it is up to the candidates to respond yes or no).
4. The OU hosts many candidates for office – and brings up issues of importance to the klal broadly & to the Orthodox community in particular. Thus, at this meeting, Congressman Sestak took questions on his Israel policy, his views regarding a nuclear Iran and on the domestic side regarding, funding for Jewish day schools, homeland security funds to shuls & schools and laws that would help Shomrei Shabbos get accommodations at work for their time off and/or their dress (kipa, beard, head covering, skirts etc.) – all issues of critical importance to the our community.