Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Political Consultant LISA PANDONE BENSON Casts False Aspersions on Republican Young Gun Candidates

Few serious observers would deny that Muslim Brotherhood operatives have attempted to infiltrate the federal government and political campaigns of both parties. In some instances, they’ve succeeded. Thanks to painstaking and meticulous investigative reporting by Patrick Poole, Andrew McCarthy and others, a number of well-placed individuals with ties to radical Islam have been exposed.

As a result, growing numbers of tuned-in Americans are concerned about the potential for radical Islamists to influence domestic and foreign policy. In this climate of heightened sensitivity, allegations of collaboration with Islamists are taken extremely seriously, especially when they emanate from so-called “experts.”

Last weekend, a guest on William Wolf’s excellent radio program “Middle East Radio Forum” made such an accusation. Lisa Pandone Benson, a self-described “national security consultant” and “compelling speaker of conviction,” asserted that three candidates, Arizona’s Republican “Young Guns”Vernon Parker, Jonathan Paton, and Martha McSally – were being advised by a consultant sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. She specifically encouraged Jewish listeners to call each of these candidates and ask for assurances that the unnamed consultant would not be retained if the candidate were elected to Congress.

Anyone familiar with the three campaigns could deduce that Ms. Benson was referring to Jess Yescalis, one of Arizona’s most well regarded and successful fundraisers. She must have heard that Mr. Yescalis spent seven weeks in Egypt last year coaching candidates prior to the Egyptian election. What she doesn’t seem to realize is that Mr. Yescalis, under the auspices of the International Republican Institute (IRI), coached Coptic Christian candidates for the Egyptian Parliament. He worked primarily with the Free Egyptian Party, which supports democratic representation and religious freedom. The Party is politically and philosophically opposed to Muslim extremism. In fact, shortly after Mr. Yescalis left Egypt, his colleagues, including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son Sam, were detained in Egypt for “illegally operating democracy-promotion programs.”

Ms. Benson’s aspersion has the potential to disrupt Mr. Yescalis’ career and the three “Young Guns” candidates’ campaigns, or worse. Additionally, her reckless disregard for the facts diminishes the credibility of serious national security analysts. She should either produce irrefutable evidence substantiating her accusation or issue an immediate retraction and apology.

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