WASHINGTON (JTA) — A leading pro-Israel congressman hosted a business meeting in his offices between Israeli officials and a defense contractor in which he profitably invested.
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Middle East subcommittee, told the New York Daily News, which published the revelation Monday, that he did not profit in any way from the meeting between Alan Magerman, the founder of Xenonics, and two Israeli officials.
Magerman tried to sell the Israelis on the NightHunter, a high-powered flashlight, but they demurred, the newspaper said. Business meetings benefiting involved lawmakers are banned under congressional rules.
Ackerman had invested $14,000 in Xenonics in 2002 and cashed out $100,000 in 2005 and 2006.
It’s not clear from the Daily News story when the meeting took place and whether it was held before or after Ackerman had ended his investment in the firm.
In a later statement to the media, Ackerman left the sequence of the meeting on his investment unclear. He said the meeting took place "eight years or so ago" and that on March 12, 2002, he took out a loan to make the investment from his friend Selig Zises, who owns the largest stake in New York-based Xenonics.
"I did no more than arrange an introduction so the parties could decide on the merits whether the product fit their needs and sale capabilities," Ackerman said in his statement. "I understand that no business was ever done between Israel and Xenonics as a result of that meeting or at any other time. I did nothing else in this matter — not another meeting, not another conversation, not seeking an earmark, not helping with any grant. Ever."
Ackerman repaid the loan in 2004 at 6 percent interest.