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Zeldin fundraiser draws criticism for Bannon involvement

COURTESY PHOTO Congressman Lee Zeldin

COURTESY PHOTO Congressman Lee Zeldin

A Thursday night fundraiser for Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), where former White House strategist and conservative Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon was a headliner, drew criticism from constituents.

On Monday, Jewish groups and others, including a group against the tax bill now under consideration in the Congress, protested in front of Mr. Zeldin’s Patchogue office, calling on him to disinvite Mr. Bannon from the event.

Mr. Bannon did appear at the event, which was held at a site on 9th Avenue and 45th Street, Mr. Zeldin’s communications director Katie Vincentz confirmed Friday.

At the event Thursday night, some protesters held signs against Mr. Bannon’s endorsement of Roy Moore, the Republican Alabama judge who was defeated by Democrat Doug Jones in a special election for the United States Senate on Tuesday. Mr. Moore faced allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied.

One of the protesters, Elise Teitelbaum, of Smithtown, called Mr. Bannon “a supporter of hate.”

On Friday, Kathryn Casey Quigley on Friday pointed to Mr. Bannon’s presence as something that could hurt Mr. Zeldin in next fall’s midterm elections.

“Zeldin’s days of trying to position himself as a moderate are over,” Quigley, who is vice chair of the Southold Democratic party, said. “To agree to a fundraiser with a person known for perpetuating racist ideology, and for campaigning for a child molester, makes clear that Zeldin represents the most extreme wing of his party. My guess is, just as in Alabama, voters in 2018 will not respond favorably to this troubling extremism.”

Newsday reported that left-leaning Jewish groups protested in midtown Manhattan outside a suspected site for the fundraiser, though no address was officially disclosed. Protesters accused Mr. Bannon of being anti-Semitic, Newsday reported.

In an appearance on CNN on Wednesday, Congressman Peter King (R-Seaford) called for the Republican Party to drop Mr. Bannon.

“This guy does belong on the national stage,” Mr. King told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “He looks like some disheveled drunk that wandered onto the political stage.”

“He is not representing what I stand for,” Mr. King continued. “I consider myself a conservative Republican. I consider myself an Irish Catholic. And he sort of parades himself out there with his weird alt-right views that he has and to me it’s demeaning the whole governmental political process.”

POLITICO reported Thursday that Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan, a Republican congressman from Ohio,  was also to attend the fundraiser.

In a Nov. 27 appearance on CNN, Mr. Zeldin confirmed Mr. Bannon’s involvement.

“He’s gotten a bad rap in many respects,” Mr. Zeldin said, adding he’d received messages calling Mr. Bannon a “Nazi” or a “Nazi sympathizer.”

Mr. Zeldin said he agrees with Mr. Bannon in some respects and disagrees with him in others, adding “there’s certainly a lot about his background that a lot of people just don’t know,” such as a being a seven-year Navy veteran and blue star father.

 

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