the Omeish “scandal”

Brent Finnegan -- October 17th, 2007

This isn’t really Harrisonburg related, but there’s a developing story in the state political sphere involving Governor Tim Kaine, the Muslim American Society, the Immigration Commission, and Delegate Todd Gilbert (whose district includes northern Rockingham) that has received no local coverage that I’m aware of.

Follow along if you care to…

During the last General Assembly session, Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican from Prince William County, re-introduced a bill to study the effects of illegal immigration on the Commonwealth. It passed. Here are the selection rules from that bill:

The Commission shall consist of 21 members as follows: six members of the House of Delegates to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates in accordance with the rules of proportional representation contained in the Rules of the House; three members of the Senate to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules; and 12 members to be appointed by the Governor to include the following: a naturalized citizen who is a resident of the Commonwealth, a resident of the Commonwealth who holds a permanent resident visa issued by the U.S. Department of State, a representative of a religious organization with a program for immigrants, a health care provider, a representative of business interests, and retirees of the (i) Immigration and Naturalization Service, (ii) Drug Enforcement Agency, (iii) Federal Bureau of Investigation, (iv) Virginia State Police, (v) Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, (vi) Department of Social Services, and (vii) Department of Education.

In July, Delegate Todd Gilbert (R) was named to the newly-formed Commission.

As stated in the language of Marshall’s bill, Governor Kaine selected 12 members to sit on the Commission. From the WaPo: “Kaine appointed [chief of the division of general surgery at Inova Alexandria Hospital, Esam S.] Omeish in August to fulfill a promise that the panel include at least one Muslim. As a respected community leader and surgeon in Northern Virginia, Omeish appeared to be a good match for the commission, which develops recommendations on state policy to deal with illegal immigration.”

In September, Gilbert was made aware of Omeish’s alleged ties to radical Islam. On September 26, Gilbert wrote a letter to Kaine “expressing concern about Omeish’s links to the Muslim American Society.” Nothing happened.

Then came the videos, like this video posted on YouTube of a pre-9/11 speech Omeish made in support of Palestinians, stating that “the jihad way is the way to liberate your land.” A day later, Omeish resigned from the Commission (i.e., he was ousted by Kaine’s office).

From the WaPo:

Kaine’s spokesman [Kevin Hall] dismissed Gilbert’s letter as xenophobic. After Omeish resigned, Gilbert praised Kaine for acting swiftly to remove him.

“I would hope that the governor’s staff was vetting candidates for state commissions a little better, but I am certainly pleased the governor himself has taken action,” Gilbert said.

Hall said the governor’s office carefully scrutinizes appointees to state commissions. “But I think it is fair to say that YouTube was not part of the vetting process in this case,” Hall said. “It certainly will be from here on out.”

But that’s not the end of it. Not by a long shot.

With elections just a few short weeks away, the VA GOP has seized upon the Omeish “scandal” to gain as much traction on the radical Islam issue as they can. Now they’ve got Secretary of the Commonwealth Katherine K. Hanley and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian Moran in the crosshairs. On Monday, Gilbert and Delegate Athey sent out a press release calling on Moran to disclose “what if any role he played in recommending the appointment of Dr. Esam Omeish to the Commission.” They also included this photo of Moran standing with Johari Abdul-Malik, a Senior Imam at the Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque in NoVa.

And that’s how political hardball is played. Sounds like a stretch to me. I don’t know if voters are naive enough to misunderstand this to mean that Moran is a jihadist, but I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this.

5 Responses to “the Omeish “scandal””

  1. David Miller says:

    Why I will never go into politics.

  2. David Troyer says:

    Hmm, David. Is that all?

  3. Bubby says:

    I believe these GOP hamsters think starting a hate-fest on the Muslims might distract me from my disgust over their $3000 traffic ticket boondoggle.

  4. Kyle says:

    “I don’t know if voters are naive enough to misunderstand this to mean that Moran is a jihadist…”

    Of course they are! If they weren’t stupid and niave then 99% of the politicians in office would never had been elected. There would have never been any swiftboat ads, no procrastination on global warming and environmental protection, no Iraq Civil War and Bush would never, never, never have been elected!

  5. finnegan says:

    It’s difficult for me to view this whole ordeal as anything other than McCarthyism.

    “Are you now, or have you ever been friends with a Muslim…”

    Omeish has already resigned over this. Gilbert and pals are on a witch hunt, and today, Kevin Hall — mentioned in the story for defending Omeish — is stepping down as Kaine’s Press Secretary. There’s no mention of Omeish in the resignation announcement, but I have to wonder if it’s related.

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