Jewish Groups Slam Nina Turner's Anti-Semitic 'Evil Money' Remark

ADL says Turner remark plays into 'anti-semitic tropes'

Nina Turner / Getty Images
August 4, 2021

Jewish groups are slamming failed congressional candidate Nina Turner, who blamed her loss on "evil money" after pro-Israel Democrats backed her opponent.

After Turner fell to pro-Israel Democrat Shontel Brown by 6 points Tuesday night, the prominent progressive said she lost because "evil money manipulated and maligned this election." Jewish groups on Wednesday condemned the remark, which appeared to be in reference to the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent against her by Democratic Majority for Israel, which supports pro-Israel Democrats like Brown.

The Anti-Defamation League said it was "extremely troubled" by Turner's "evil money" remark. "We are extremely troubled by Nina Turner's comments," the group told the Washington Free Beacon. "Intentional or not, they echo long-standing anti-semitic tropes. Our local office is reaching out to her to discuss."

Turner's campaign defended the remark made during her Tuesday night concession speech. "In the race to represent Ohio's 11th Congressional District, Nina Turner was opposed by corporate money, Republican money, and Trump allies' money," Turner's deputy campaign manager Kara Turrentine told the Washington Free Beacon. "That is evil money."

While Turner's campaign said the comment was not in reference to the pro-Israel group's spending, hours after the remark she retweeted a message by political ally Briahna Joy Gray that blamed Turner's loss on the money spent from Democratic Majority for Israel. Gray's post said the spending was "galvanizing" the district's "white affluent" voters.

Though Turner impugned the role of "evil money" in the race, she spent far more than the ultimately victorious Brown, Democratic Majority for Israel noted.

"We understand that it hurts to lose and sometimes people lash out in unfortunate ways," the group told the Free Beacon. "We also recognize that Nina Turner and her PAC allies outspent Brown and her allies (including DMFI PAC) by one and a quarter million dollars. Turner didn't lose because she had too little money."

While Turner's allies also blamed the loss on white voters in a majority-black district, Brown performed well among black voters in the district's suburbs.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and global social director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Turner owes her Ohio community's Jewish population an apology.

"At the minimum, she owes the Jewish community in Cleveland an apology," Cooper said. "And if not, then unfortunately you have to put a person like that in the column of someone who is an enemy of your community because in effect they're justifying Jew hatred."

Only one of the 17 members of Congress who endorsed Turner—a list that includes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.)—returned a request for comment on Turner's speech. A spokesman for Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.) said he was "not able to speak to Rep. Raskin about last night's special elections."

Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), however, responded to the speech on Twitter, saying Turner's comment proved "that support for Shontel Brown was a mitzvah."

After defeating Turner, Brown expressed her unabashed support for the U.S.-Israel alliance.

"When you see a person who has a firecracker that's been dropped by a drone near the Gaza Strip, and you are within a few feet of a bomb shelter, you can appreciate the vulnerability of a state," Brown said. "That has given me the understanding of the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. So I thank my Jewish brothers and sisters."

Brown is expected to cruise to election following the contentious primary. President Joe Biden carried the district by 60 points in 2020.