No real surprise here, but it’s worth noting that the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), which we’ve been covering pretty intensively over the last week, appears to be using, at least for now, the same lobbying firm as SarahPAC, Sarah Palin’s increasingly bountiful political action committee.
Quoting SarahPac’s quarterly disclosures, this weekend’s edition of the Wall Street Journal reported that:
“In April and May, she paid $30,000 to Orion Strategies, the tiny Washington consulting firm headed by Randy Scheunemann, Sen. John McCain’s top foreign-policy adviser during his 2008 White House campaign. That money was for ‘national and international’ work, according to the records. Mr. Scheunemann didn’t respond when asked for comment.”
As noted above, this is hardly surprising, as Bill Kristol, one of the three ECI directors along with “Bad” Rachel Abrams and Gary Bauer, “discovered” Palin on the Weekly Standard’s Alaska Cruise several years ago and is a long-time chum of Scheunemann’s, dating back before the founding of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) of which Kristol made Scheunemann director. And Scheunemann, of course, became Palin’s personal foreign-policy tutor after she was nominated to run with McCain two years ago. Still, these connections — especially financial connections — are always worth noting.
Now, it must be stressed that we still don’t know whether ECI has formally retained Orion’s services, or whether it was just using Orion’s address as a temporary locus or letterhead. Salon’s Justin Elliott pushed the story further on Friday by getting in touch with Michael Goldfarb, an ECI adviser who serves as Orion’s vice president:
“Michael Goldfarb, who works at Orion and is an adviser to the Emergency Committee, told Salon in an email:
‘They [which apparently refers to Eli and me] didn’t exactly find the Rosetta stone there–I’m on the record as an adviser to ECI and its no secret that I work at Orion, where the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq sign is still proudly displayed on the front of the building. ECI will be opening an office next week, but given the urgency of our cause, getting an office sorted out seemed less pressing than exposing Joe Sestak’s anti-Israel record.’
(For the record, the Emergency Committee’s website currently lists another address that appears to be at a UPS Store.)
Noah Pollak, a writer at Commentary and head of the Emergency Committee, did not immediately return a call for comment.”
So, apart from Goldfarb’s advisory status and a temporary letterhead, there may yet may be no formal connection between ECI and and the firm that advises Sarah Palin on “national and international” issues — the same firm that acted as one of many of Ahmed Chalabi’s “useful idiots,” including Bill Kristol, Elliott Abrams, and Gary Bauer. As Matt Duss at Think Progress suggested this week, with advocates like these, the emergency in Israel that the Emegency Committee was apparently created to address can only become more dire.