While Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) has come under fire in recent days for fabricating a story about his involvement in a car accident that never occurred, there has been little focus on kickbacks Pascrell received in recent years in exchange for diverting tax dollars into the hands of special interests. Pascrell, who has been pushing for the release of President Donald Trump’s tax records in recent weeks, may now be facing a serious criminal scandal of his own.
On August 5, 2014, Pascrell embarked on a week long, all-expenses paid trip to Israel “arranged by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable arm of the advocacy group American Israel Public Affairs Committee.”
Just one day earlier, on August 4, 2014, Pascrell had announced that he had secured $225,000 in Nonprofit Security Grant Program funding for several synagogues in the Bergen County and Passaic County areas.
On April 2, 2014, according to a press release on his website, “U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) led a letter signed by 34 of his House colleagues urging the co-chairs of the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Homeland Security to fund the Nonprofit Security Grant Program at $19 million in the FY2015 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.”
Pascrell had exaggerated a case of graffiti and vandalism at a synagogue in Rutherford in 2012 as “a string of anti-Semitic hate crimes targeting synagogues in Northern New Jersey culminat[ing] in arson when an incendiary device was thrown through the window of an Orthodox temple, that was the home of a Rabbi, his wife, five children and father.”
As it happens, there was no evidence that anyone was present in the temple/home and the damage was nonexistent. Pascrell and his staffer Assad Akhter, now a Passaic County Freeholder, had helped Rabbi Neil Schuman secure a $30,000 grant by filling out a Department of Homeland Security grant application.
Last year, Jewish groups in Pascrell’s 9th Congressional District received even more funding according to the Congressman’s website:
The funding announced today includes $447,150 going to six locations in the 9th Congressional District:
• Ahavas Israel Passaic Park Jewish Community Center – $75,000
• Clifton Cheder Inc. – $72,150
• East Hill Synagogue – $75,000
• Kol Yeshurun – $75,000
• Passaic Hebrew Institute – $75,000
• The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey – $75,000
In April of this year, citing hoax bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers made by an Israeli-Jew, Pascrell sought an increase in Nonprofit Security Grant Program funding to $50 million.
The Nonprofit Security Grant Program is administered by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Jewish Federations of North America, which claims that it was involved in the creation and funding of the program with the “Orthodox Union”, has stated that 94% of the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been appropriated through the Nonprofit Security Grant Program have gone to Jewish groups. According to the Forward, a Jewish publication, “Leading the lobbying for the program have been the Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America.”
In recent days, Congress has proposed increasing the program’s budget to $25 million.