Monday, August 28, 2006

Flashback: Silverman denounced critics of Abramoff scam as anti-semites

People who opposed the County Council's deal to hand over public school property to crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff are anti-semites, according to County Councilman Steve Silverman.

A reader has provided with a link to a 1999 Gazette story about how Silverman, Councilman Michael Subin and others conspired to turn over the 20-acre campus of the former Col. Joseph A. Belt Junior High School to a group later revealed to be dominated by Abramoff, sentenced for felony crimes in 2006.

As the Washington Post reported earlier this year, Abramoff had directed campaign contributions from Pacific sweatshop interests to County Executive Doug Duncan's campaign shortly before Duncan made the controversial decision to provide public school property to a religious school.

According to the April 7, 1999 Gazette, Silverman "accused some opponents of Belt's sale to Yeshiva of being anti-Semitic."

"Silverman also lashed out about those who accused Councilman Michael Subin (D-At large) of Gaithersburg, himself and other Jewish county officials of conducting secret negotiations with Yeshiva and offering them preferential treatment so the school could move to Belt," the Gazette reported.

"'It is a despicable act to suggest that people of the county are acting on anything other then good faith,' said Silverman, who is Jewish. 'I deeply resent the implication that my decision will be based on my religious persuasion.'"

Silverman is running against former Councilman Ike Leggett to replace Duncan as County Executive. One of the few political differences between the two candidates is that Leggett has consistently supported a strong county Inspector General to probe allegations of waste, fraud and abuse, while Silverman has opposed it.