Saturday, May 17, 2008

Who is Morris Talansky?

So things are looking to get even worse in Israel thanks to the bribes Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seems to have taken.

Even more likely now that we'll see Bibi Netanyahu as prime minister again, this time as part of a Likud that has shed all of its more moderate politicians to Kadima. This would be a disaster for various reasons that I won't go into.

Anyway, back to Morris Talansky. Ha'aretz reported that rather little is known about him.

Long Island Jewish American mogul and millionaire financier Morris Talansky, who is suspected of bribing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is described by acquaintances as a man who keeps his business affairs out of the spotlight.

Although he is a known fundraiser for and contributor to Jewish causes in the United States and Israel, nobody seems to know how he made his money. Moreover, though he has participated in dozens of public events, his photograph cannot be found on the Internet.

What they do know:

  • He is 77 years old

  • He is an Orthodox Jew

  • Yeshiva University '54; served on their board of trustees

  • Was ordained as a rabbi

  • Went to NYU Law School, then into business

  • 3 children with his first wife (40-year marriage ended in "ugly" divorce in 1996); Yitzhak (Alan) is a dentist and lecturer in Israel; Bracha Tova (Barbara) is a psychologist in Israel; Ruth is an architect in the United States

  • Now lives with second wife, Helen, in Woodsburgh, Long Island; has apartment in Wolfson Towers in Jerusalem

  • Worked as a fundraiser for American Friends of Shaare Zedek (a hospital in Jerusalem) supposedly till 1997, although his tax records show they paid him 90 grand for consulting in 2004 and 2005

  • Also raised money for the ORT Network, and the New Jerusalem Fund

  • Contributed significantly to political campaigns here in the United States of America

Let's start with a more detailed look at his contributions.

I found one contribution to H. Carl McCall's campaign for comptroller in 1998 in the state campaign finance records area.

As for federal contributions:

There's a clear pattern of donations to Jewish politicians (all of whom in this case happened to be Democrats), which makes sense; their finance committees probably were familiar with him:

  • $3,000 (over several years) to Sam Gejdenson

  • $1,000 to Eric Fingerhut in 1993

  • $1,000 to Joel Hyatt in 1994

  • $1,000 to Dianne Feinstein in 1994

  • $2,000 to Frank Lautenberg in 1994

  • $2,000 to Chuck Schumer in 1995 and $500 more in 1997

  • $1,000 to Paul Wellstone in 1995

  • $500 to Jill Docking in 1996

  • $500 to Gary Ackerman in 1997

He also gave a bunch of contributions which can be explained by his state/powerful position of recipient

  • $2,000 to Ted Kennedy in 1992

  • $1,000 to Tom Foley's re-election campaign in 1994

  • $2,000 to "The House leadership fund" in 1993

  • $1,000 to the Clinton campaign in 1995

  • $1,000 to Steve Forbes* in 1996

  • $1,000 to Rudy Giuliani in 2000

  • $1,000 to George Bush in 2003

The rest, however, don't make any sense.

Rep. Vince Weber(R-MN) in 1986, Sen. Brock Adams(D-WA) in 1992, Sen. Harris Wofford(D-PA) in 1993, Sen. Chuck Robb(D-VA) in 1993, Sen. Larry Pressler(R-SD) in 1996, Senate candidate Thomas Bruggere(D-OR) in 1996, Senate candidate Ben Nelson(D-NE) in 1996, House candidate Wayne Parker(R-AL) in 1996; running again for the open 5th seats this year)

No pattern jumps out at me.

Anyway, I did some more searching on Talansky:


mooncat said...

Regarding the Wayne Parker contribution, Parker's father-in-law was Bill Archer (R, Texas). At that time, Archer was Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. I have heard that people offering to contribute to Archer (and apparently people often want to contribute to the W&M Chairman) got a big hint that a contribution to Wayne Parker's campaign would please Archer as much as one to his own.

Fred said...


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Anonymous said...

My father Rabbi Bernard Schwab went to school W/ Moshe at the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore. It's funny because his year book description says that in the future he will be proclaimed as lamden-moishe the millionaire. How very true. Seems like one of the good guys to me.

Mike Schwab

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