Tags: GOP2016 | Rand Paul | Scott Walker | Support Israel | rich roberts | jewish | donors

Top Jewish Donor for Rand Paul Switches to Scott Walker

By    |   Thursday, 30 April 2015 08:54 AM

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has poached Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's "most prominent pro-Israel backer," The Washington Free Beacon reports.

Rich Roberts, a major Republican donor who Politico described as "a kingmaker among ultra-Orthodox Jews" in his home state of New Jersey, had been a benefactor to Paul, even paying for the senator's 2013 trip to Israel.

But Roberts is now throwing his support to Walker, who has not yet declared his candidacy, though it's expected, because he believes the Wisconsin governor is more electable.

"I like Rand Paul a lot, our relationship goes back now about three or four years," Roberts told the Free Beacon. "I like him as a person, I think he's very well-intended.

"But I think that Scott Walker is [a greater] likelihood of being the next president. I think Scott Walker is also a tremendous individual."

Paul's campaign did not return a request for comment by the Free Beacon.

In October, the Jewish publication JP Updates wrote a profile on Roberts, who earned both a doctor of medicine and a doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He was raised in a secular Jewish home but after taking over his father's pharmaceutical companies — he was successful and sold them in 2012 for $800 million — he became an Orthodox Jew, according to JP Updates.

"Roberts believes that Jewish teachings gave him the wisdom and fortitude to turn the two businesses into profitable entities," it writes.

Roberts retired and moved to Lakewood, New Jersey, where he studies the Torah and regularly hosts Republicans seeking his support. Both Walker and Paul, along with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, have been guests there.

He had been considered Paul's "ambassador to the Jewish community" as well as an "informal adviser" on Israel, according to the Free Beacon, until his decision to support Walker.

He has a bit of history with Walker, to whom he contributed $50,000 during his recall campaign, saying he admired Walker's "strength and resilience on labor unions," the Free Beacon reported.

When he was flooded with hate mail from union supporters after his donation was made public, Roberts sent another $50,000 check.

Walker, and the rest of the GOP field, have been courting the Jewish vote. He is embarking on his first political trip to Israel in the coming weeks, though he is doing so without reporters. His campaign said the governor "wants to use it as an opportunity to see for himself and learn before discussing it as he continues talking about big issues facing our country through Our American Revival," JP Updates reported.

"Gov. Walker's trip to Israel will be a listening tour," said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Walker's Our American Revival PAC. "He is interested in hearing first-hand Israel's concerns about the future of our alliance and identifying ways to restore the ruptured bonds between our two countries.

"He is very concerned about the rise of Iran, the spread of radical Islamic terrorism, and the turmoil in Syria and Iraq, and is interested in understanding the views of the Israelis on how we confront these shared challenges."

Walker made headlines in 2014 for a gaffe he made in an undated letter written to a constituent some 10 years earlier, when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive.

In it, he mistakenly confused the words Molotov — short for Molotov cocktail, an incendiary device — and Mazel tov, a Yiddish phrase expressing congratulations.

The letter — which Walker wrote to a prominent Milwaukee lawyer, Franklyn Gimbel, saying he'd be happy to display a Hanukkah menorah at the Milwaukee County Courthouse — concluded with the phase: "Thank you again and Molotov."

Walker, the son of a Baptist preacher, has said he doesn't recall writing the letter and blamed the mistake on a typo, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has poached Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's "most prominent pro-Israel backer," The Washington Free Beacon reports.
rich roberts, jewish, donors, scott walker, rand paul, gop
Thursday, 30 April 2015 08:54 AM
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