Romney Raises $1.5 Million in Predominantly Orthodox Jewish Community; Media Kept Away
By Phil Stilton
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is on the campaign trail — and part of his campaign team’s strategy is to garner the support of the Jewish community both at home and abroad. Another part of Romney’s campaign strategy appears to be keeping those fundraisers in the Orthodox Jewish community hidden from the public.
On July 28th, while in Israel, Romney’s camp, according to the Associated Press pool story, attempted to bar reporters from attending a fundraiser that raised $10,000,000 in Israel that Monday morning.
No reason was given by the campaign for the change in policy for that fundraiser, other than an aide told reporters that the event was “closed press”.
The AP report went on, “Reporters have been allowed to attend and report on Mitt Romney’s fundraisers since May, when the campaign lifted its restrictions on access and said fundraisers held in public venues such as hotels would be open to a small group of press. They have never allowed cameras inside to document the events.”
Later, Romney’s campaign back tracked that decision after receiving complaints from the media pool. The campaign, according to the AP, allowed one reporter into the fundraiser to cover the event. No photos were allowed, which has been the norm for the presidential candidate under scrutiny from his opponents about his transparency.
Fast forward slightly over one week later, where on August 8th, Romney visited Lakewood, New Jersey, home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities in America. It was here that Romney pulled in another $1.5 million for his campaign in a community that hosts one of the world’s largest Yeshivas.
Once again, the media was barred from the event, another departure from standard protocol of allowing the press pool into campaign events in public facilities. Since May the press has been barred from two Romney fundraisers. Both times, they were with the Orthodox Jewish community.
To assist in Romney’s shroud of secrecy in Lakewood, the management of Lake Terrace, the hall in which the event was held, ordered Lakewood Police to remove all media from the premises, a claim Romney campaign manager Rick Gorka claims did not come from the campaign. Lakewood Township police officers swept through the parking lot asking anyone with a camera if they were associated with the media. Anyone who answered ‘yes’ was escorted from the property to a location nearly a football field’s length away from the facility’s property. At one point, a police officer ordered an Asbury Park Press film crew even further away.
Romney’s press secretary, New Jersey resident Rick Gorka claimed it wasn’t them. ”What the facility did has nothing to do with us,” Gorka said in a phone interview Saturday morning, shortly after the campaign announced Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate.
It wasn’t just local news media who got the boot at that event. According toYahoo! News reporter Holly Bailey, the pool was not permitted inside the fundraiser either. In her report, she claimed, “Your pool is now holding in a room ahead of Romney’s remarks at the private fundraiser, set to begin in about one hour. Per spokesman Rick Gorka, Romney is going to pose for photos with the wedding party, but the campaign will not allow the pool to witness this event.”
Gorka says Bailey’s report is incorrect. Gorka would not respond to our questions regarding the exclusion of local media at the event, saying just that it was for pool only, claiming AP pool reporter Holly Bailey’s report was inaccurate. “Holly Bailey was inside and in attendance. I’m not going to rehash this,” Gorka said. ”I have a busy day. It was open to the press pool.”
While Gorka was less than enthused to discuss this matter hours after his boss announced Ryan as Romney’s running mate, he maintained his composure slightly more then he in the conversation from two weeks ago when he told reporters to “Kiss my @$$”. It was a comment made by Gorka after telling the pool to have some respect at Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza, in Warsaw, Poland’s version of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.