Politics

Illinois Dem At Center Of Ethics Investigation Promised To Oppose Israel As Part Of Agreement With Primary Opponent

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Democratic Illinois Rep. Marie Newman promised that she would take several anti-Israel foreign policy positions as part of an employment agreement with a potential primary opponent, documents released by the Office of Congressional Ethics reveal.

Newman agreed that she would oppose several forms of foreign aid to Israel, most notably “any legislation that entails ADDITIONAL military sales or aid to” the Jewish state. She also pledged to meet with left-wing groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. One of eight Democrats to oppose funding the replenishment of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, Newman has accused Israel’s government of violations of human rights and international law.

She also promised to oppose any legislation that “makes aid to Palestine or the Palestinian Authority contingent on recognition of Israel”

The proposal for Newman’s policy positions was drafted by Columbia College professor Iymen Chehade in late 2018, shortly after Newman lost a primary challenge to fellow Illinois Democrat Dan Lipinski. Chehade is currently running in the open primary for Illinois Third District. (RELATED: Pro-Life Democrat Dan Lipinski Loses To Pro-Choice Primary Challenger)

Chehade is a supporter of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which urges American businesses and non-profits to stop conducting business in Israel. Included in the agreement was a pledge that Newman would oppose any anti-BDS legislation.

After Chehade sent Newman the policy positions, she responded that “most of it looks good” and that her concerns were limited to “phraseology.” Newman paid an individual named Hamman Chehade a salary of $49,000 in campaign funds in 2021, Federal Election Commission records show. Hamman is Iymen Chehade’s middle name.

Newman is currently facing an investigation by the House Ethics Committee into her agreement with Chehade. After Newman allegedly attempted to renege on the agreement with Chehade, the professor sued her in state court for breach of contract. Arguing on Newman’s behalf, House General Counsel Douglas Letter claimed that any contract that Newman entered into with Chehade violated federal labor laws.

The House Ethics Committee has the power to compel documents and witness testimony, as well as recommend punishment. Newman, who is running in a member versus member primary against Sean Casten, has denied any wrongdoing.

“The factual and legal allegations were fatally defective,” Newman’s attorneys wrote after OCE recommended the Ethics Committee take up her case, “spurred by the charges of an adverse third party, and prodded by an ideologically hostile group.”