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October 22, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 22, 2004

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PAGE 4B HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS By Matthew E. Berger WASHINGTON (JTA)--It's hard to get your candidate into office. But this election cycle, it's even harder to play by the rules. New campaign finance laws have made it more difficult for Jewish donors, political activists and con- sultants to aid their favorite candidates and causes at the same ti me. As is also the case among other political play- ers, Jews are forced to choose between backing a candidate or a political organization, or advising one group over another. This has forced some to cut ties with their traditional al- lies, pitted partner versus partner at some political consulting companies, and even forced senior officials to opt out of attending their own organization's events. For example, the Jewish liaison for the Kerry cam- paign and the executive di- rector of the National Jewish Democratic Council are not speaking to each other, to avoid the appearance of col- lusion, since both are working on separate projects to court Jewish voters. "We exchange niceties, but that's about it," Jay Footlik, the Kerry campaign's senior adviser for Jewish and Middle East affairs, said of his rela- tionship with Ira Forman. The new campaign finance laws, which were enacted in 2002, banned so-called soft money, or unlimited contri- butions to political parties, which used to run a lot of election ads for their can- didates. By Barbara Friedman This is a question I am frequently asked, and un- derstandably so given the amount of damage sustained in this area. Unfortunately, it is not a question that is easily answered, but I am willing to share my opinion of the situ- ation. Overall, housing prices and demand do not appear to have suffered very much. Considering that September and October are traditionally slower months for real estate sales, it can be argued that the current slowdown is not totally attributed to the hur- ricanes, but also to the sea- sonal nature of the industry. There is, however, definitely a backlash that will undoubt- edly take time to overcome. The following is a brief list of the obstacles that buyers, sellers, realtors, lenders and Advertising Sales Full or Part Time Call Jeff at 407-834-8787 The new laws resulted in the proliferation--and increased importance - - of advocacy groups, known as 527s be- cause of their Internal Rev- enue Service designation. Election law states that national political candidates and parties cannot coordinate activities with these advocacy groups, which due to the new rules have, in this election, taken on a greater role in promoting their candidates. Several Jewish political organizations have created 527 groups to run political advertisements and outreach efforts and, therefore, have to refrain from communicating with some of their strongest allies and frequent collabora- tors. This has led to redundant actions and frequent confu- sion among advocacy groups insurance companies have been facing: A few buyers, particularly foreign investors, have been temporarily scared away. I suspect this will remedy itself once the hysteria and media coverage subside. In the days following Charley, I had dif- ficulty discerningwhether the front page featured a photo of Orlando or Iraq. Imagine your reaction if you lived in England and had just placed a $10,000 deposit on a vacation home near Disney. Many contracts that were pending have been cancelled due to the damage sustained to the property. Even if the buyerswerewilling to proceed with the purchase, it h~/s been impossible to get the appropri- ate repair companies to come out and give an estimate. No estimate, no insurance settle- ment and no repairs equals no deal. In many cases, lenders are not willing to underwrite loans on a house that has hur- ricane damage not repaired by licensed contractor. and consulting firms that work with 527s. But, Jewish politicos say, caution has to rule the day. The two partners of Rabinowitz-Dorf Com- munications'are working different segments of the Jewish Democratic outreach game. Steve Rabinowitz, the company's president, is advis- ing the NJDC. His managing partner, Matt Dorf, is helping the Kerry campaign place ads in Jewish newspapers. So while the colleagues still go for walks together and shared Yom Kippur break fast at Rabinowitz's home, they have erected a figurative firewall in the of- rice and keep their insider knowledge secret. "It's not like we don't talk about the campaign," Rabi- nowitz said. va People who had planned to sell their homes this month have been forced to wait be- fore listing, again because it is impossible to have any repair work completed. In turn, they have to cancel the contracts they have entered into on new houses. New construction has been delayed because of labor and material shortages. There is a bright side. These dilemmas are only affecting a fraction of local real estate. Our tourist economy is resil- ient. The tourism industry and state government are working very hard on promoting our beautiful city and region. Many jobs have been created to handle the aftermath of the storms. One thing has re- mained consistent: People are still moving here. Ultimately, it is still true that inventory remains low and prices and demand remain high. Barbara Friedman is an agent of the Friedman Group ofRE/MAX Town and Country Realty in Winter Springs. "It's just we go to great lengths not to talk of what NJDC is doing or what he knows the Kerry campaign is doing." Doff said doors rarely were closed in the of- fice here before the political season, but now it's a daily occurrence. "It certainly makes for awk- ward moments," he said. Both NJDC and the Kerry campaign placed ads in Jewish newspapers around the High Holidays. Dorf and Rabinow- itz say they w re upset to see they had both placed ads in the same issues of the same papers, thus not spreading their resources. But, they said, it helps prove they aren't working together. To help show he isn't work- ingwith the Republican Party, Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, skipped the GOP national conven- tion in August, even though his group held several high- profile events, including one with Vice President Dick Cheney. Brooks said that after consulting with campaign law experts, his group con- cluded that the national convention would be a place where interaction with party decision makers would be virtually inevitable, and those conversations could, theoretically, impact the work RJC is doing in trying to bring Jewish votes for the Bush/Cheney ticket. "We considered it in our best interest to avoid be- ing even in that situation," Brooks said. At the same time, one of RJC's board members, Fred Zeidman, resigned from the group, so that he could work more actively on Bush's cam- paign. Z'eidman was appointed by Bush as chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which oversees the Holocaust museum in Wash- ington. "We want to be so clear on this, to withstand tho "It doesn't cost more to have the in both parties gone to great expense, to Forman, NJDC's director, said his to avoid talkin the Kerry Democratic mittee, and tell them what doing. That means even of his own Lewis, who is Women's Vote DNC, and Mark Kerry's r limits. "I can't use them cal advice said. "That's understandable." volved in the deliberate moves making are ante tal collusion. "I und I think if there be independent have to be trul Rabinowitz said. "But it seems and to the outside it seems com lievable." In fact, fears or even investigated within few months becaUSe company's political' But at the same says, he will not be from doin ing his candidates. outofdoin for the cam So, until will be closed hushed around "It' "You go with where This cycle, this law is and doing some really dances." Insurance Estate Conservation Business and Personal Insurance Planning BAUMGARTEN ;IAL Financial Adviser* Qualifying and Life Member and Court of the Table Member, Million Dollar Round Table** Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow "Chartered Life Underwriter 147 E. Lyman Avenue " Suite E P.O. 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