By Jake Sherman and Martin Kady II, Politico – 14 Oct 2009
Four Republican lawmakers have accused the most prominent Islamic advocacy group in Washington of trying to plant “spies” as interns on Capitol Hill.
The claim was quickly denounced as “racist” and “insidious” by the Council on American Islamic Relations, and the effort appears to have little support from GOP leaders.
In an unusual announcement this morning, four conservative Republicans — Reps. John Shadegg (Ariz.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Trent Franks (Ariz.) and Sue Myrick (N.C.) — formally asked the House Sergeant at Arms to launch an investigation of the Center for American-Islamic Relations. They accused CAIR, a non profit group, of trying to infiltrate Capitol Hill with interns and staffers.
Shadegg said Wednesday that CAIR is an organization that “members of Congress should be aware of and that should be investigated by the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service.”
And the response from CAIR?
“We would love to help people find jobs on Capitol Hill,” said Ibrahim Hooper, the communications director for CAIR. “There’s a Muslim Staffer Association. Should they be investigated?”
The proclamation from the four Republicans came in advance of a book, entitled “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” which includes a forward by Myrick. The author of the book, Dave Gaubatz, an anti-Islam activist who wrote last year that “a vote for Hussein Obama is a vote for Sharia Law.”
The lawmakers also released a one page “strategy” document they said they obtained from CAIR. But the document basically lays out a fairly straight forward public relations and lobbying strategy and indeed, one of the goals is “placing Muslim interns in congressional offices” and registering people to vote.
Hooper ridiculed the claims.
“All they can come up with is that we are political active?” Hooper asked. “The terror threat is that Muslims are politically active?”
Democrats weren’t amused by the accusations, and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) said she was “appalled” by the situation.
“I urge the rest of my colleagues to join me in denouncing this witch hunt, which is clearly intended to create fear and distrust in our Capitol Hill community,” Sanchez said in a statement.
There was some confusion on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, when the public schedule on televisions in the complex noted that the lawmakers would make “public a national security threat on Capitol Hill.” Staffers from the four Republican offices would not reveal in advance what this national security threat was.
It’s not clear yet if the sergeant at arms will investigate whether there are Muslim spies on staff in the House.
A spokeswoman for Shadegg says the lawmakers also want a Department of Justice investigation to find out “if CAIR was successful in placing interns” with key congressional committees, including the Intelligence and Homeland Security panels
Hooper pointed out that there are indeed many Muslim staffers on Capitol Hill, CAIR is a lobbying organization, and its executive director is on Capitol Hill today — speaking at an interfaith forum on health care with other religious groups in the Rayburn building.