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Democratic Party Rebuts Claim It Collaborates with Farrakhan

July 29, 1996
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Democratic Party has defused a situation that threatened to sour relations with Jewish supporters by declaring that it will not cooperate with the Nation of Islam on voter registration.

The Democratic National Committee drew criticism from Jewish groups and Republicans in response to a news report on the possibility of collaboration between the committee and the Nation of Islam for a drive to register voters for the November election.

The committee, however, called the account inaccurate.

In a letter to the Anti-Defamation League, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), DNC general chairman, said the Nation of Islam had not asked anyone at the committee to cooperate in its voter registration drive.

He also said federal election law prohibited the committee from taking part in a drive with a tax-exempt, religious group such as the Nation of Islam.

Nation of Islam leader Louis “Farrakhan has used language of malice and division,” Dodd wrote. “The Democratic Party, and our country, stand for just the opposite: community, understanding and respect for the differences among our people.

“The DNC therefore cannot and will not work with any organization led by him, or anyone else who espouses hatred and bigotry.”

The controversy stemmed from comments made at a June news conference announcing the voter registration drive.

The Associated Press quoted Leonard Mohammed, Farrakhan’s chief of staff, as saying, “Our efforts to engage in this kind of activity must be encouraged by the Democratic Party.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), one of Farrakhan’s loudest critics, immediately called on the committee to denounce and distance itself from Farrakhan.

Amy Weiss Tobe, DNC press secretary, then reportedly said that the DNC was not working with Farrakhan.

But she declined to rule out cooperation with the Nation of Islam in the future.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations responded to the DNC with a letter of protest, as did King, Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour and the Catholic League.

The ADL asked Dodd to clarify the DNC’s position, and last week welcomed his response.

“While the goal of voter registration drives is laudable, we are pleased the DNC has rejected the possibility of cooperation with the Nation of Islam, an organization with a long and well-documented history of racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL national director.

The Conference of Presidents also commended the committee’s decision, but King and other Republicans were less forgiving.

After initially raising concerns in June, King only last week received a letter from DNC National Chairman Donald Fowler disavowing any collaboration with the Nation of Islam.

Fowler wrote that the Democratic Party was “hesitant to denounce any group that wishes to participate constructively in the political process,” but added that Farrakhan’s racist speech and divisiveness “make it impossible for us to endorse the Nation of Islam’s activities.”

King criticized Fowler for “reluctantly, half-heartedly and belatedly” responding to the concerns and accused him of “shameful indifference to Farrakhan’s bigotry.”

Tobe of the DNC said, “This is all Congressman King making something out of nothing.”

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