Did Debbie Wasserman Schultz Overreact in Attacking Rubio's Yom Kippur Fundraiser?

Did Debbie Wasserman Schultz Overreact in Attacking Rubio's Yom Kippur Fundraiser?
photo by Michelle Eve Sandberg

Debbie Wasserman Schultz went after Sen. Marco Rubio hard for holding a fundraiser on Yom Kippur at the home of a man who owns Hitler memorabilia. The much-maligned Democratic National Committee chair's suggestion is that Rubio was raising money in the home of a Nazi memorabilia collector on the Jewish day of atonement. Wasserman Schultz called the event a "gross act of disrespect."

When news leaked that Rubio would be holding the fundraiser at the home of Republican fundraiser and real estate mogul Harlan Crow, Wasserman Schulz blasted the GOP presidential hopeful in a statement, saying that not only is holding a fundraiser on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar offensive but it's doubly so given the fact that Crow happens to own two paintings by Adolf Hitler and a signed copy of his book Mein Kampf.

"Holding an event in a house featuring the artwork and signed autobiography of a man who dedicated his life to extinguishing the Jewish people is the height of insensitivity and indifference," says a statement from Wasserman Schultz released on Tuesday, said. "There's really no excuse for such a gross act of disrespect."

The National Jewish Democratic Council then joined Wasserman Schultz in blasting Rubio over where he was holding his fundraiser. 

But, according to a Dallas Morning News April profile, Crow, who lives in Dallas, owns thousands of items of memorabilia and artwork from World War II, and the Hitler items seem to make up a small portion of his collection. Crow told the paper that he loves sharing the historical items, which also includes authentic Civil War memorabilia, with scholars, students, friends and others who are interested in taking a more intimate look at world history. Crow also said he's constantly on the lookout for more items via auction houses and other collectors. 

Crow's home, the piece goes on to say, has its own wing where he keeps thousands of rare books, manuscripts, artwork and other collectables. In 2013, Crow submitted an application to rezone his estate as an historical collection, which means guests could come to the home to see the collection via appointments through the Crow estate.

Among the items in his vast collection is an Abraham Lincoln syllogism on the evils of slavery, a letter written by Christopher Columbus when he returned from the New World, and a copy of Poor Richard's Almanac. Crow also owns paintings by Renoir and Monet, and artwork made by historical world leaders such as Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and yes, Hitler. 

So is Wasserman Schultz's outrage on point? Or is it a misguided attempt to stir up controversy against Rubio?

Whichever the case, Wasserman Schultz challenged Rubio to call off his fundraiser, in the name of the Jewish community living in Florida.

"Mr. Rubio, who by the way, represents a sizable Jewish population in our home state of Florida, should cancel this tasteless fundraiser," she goes on to say in her statement. "It is astounding that the presence of of these items that represent horror for millions of Jews the world over, would not stop Mr. Rubio or anyone on his team in their tracks when planning this event."

Rubio's campaign has yet to respond. Rubio went ahead and held the fundraiser at Crow's home on Tuesday, which was the day Yom Kippur was observed. 

Wasserman Schultz, meanwhile, continues to take heat from Democrats over a lack of debates. Back in August, the DNC chair released a debate schedule that featured only four debates before February's primary. In contrast, Democratic candidates had taken part in ten debates by early September in 2008.

Some have suggested the lack of debates on the schedule was deliberate, due to Wasserman Schultz being too loyal to Hillary Clinton. 

A hashtag of Wasserman Schultz's name has been created on Twitter demanding more debates be placed into the schedule.

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