Republican Josh Mandel defended his use of the words “comrade” and “mosque” in a campaign fundraising appeal that some say fanned the flames of religious bigotry.
Mandel e-mailed a letter on June 9 to potential campaign donors that details gaffes by his political opponent, Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce. It hammered away on Boyce’s deputy treasurer, Amer Ahmad, and his personal connections to bank lobbyist Noure Alo as well as Alo’s wife, who was hired as a secretary in the treasurer’s office. The three attend the same mosque.
Mandel said he used the word “comrade” as a synonym for friend and he brought up “mosque” because Ahmad admitted in the press that he only advertised the secretarial position in his mosque.
“Religion is irrelevant, religion is not a matter. What is the center of the matter is that Amer Ahmad is posting jobs at his mosque without telling anyone else in the state of Ohio that these jobs are available. That’s a serious issue,” Mandel said. “Secondly, he is steering bank contracts to his friends and trying to hide from reporters the fact that he has a personal relationship with his friend through his mosque.”
The treasurer’s office is not required to publicly post the secretary’s job and Boston-based State Street Bank, which hired Alo to lobby Boyce’s office, submitted the low bid. Alo is an immigration attorney with no prior lobbying experience.
Mandel is Jewish, Boyce is Christian and Ahmad is Muslim.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said Mandel is using divisive language to rally conservative voters, particularly those who identify with the Tea Party movement.
“It plays to old, tired fears,” Redfern said. “Josh Mandel cares about one person: Josh Mandel. He doesn’t really care about the impact his words will have on others, whether they share his faith or not.”
Contact this reporter at (614) 224-1624 or lbischoff@Dayton