Cash Money Millionaires

Parents of DNC staffer who posted picture captioned “Jewbags” on Facebook are closely tied to the White House

April 6, 2012

The parents of a Democratic National Committee staffer who posted a provocative picture captioned "Jewbags" on Facebook are closely tied to the White House and appear to have had business ties to the administration’s failed carbon-trading program.

Dani Gilbert, a DNC Jewish liaison who is the daughter of fundraisers Mark and Nancy, caused a stir in the political world this week when the Free Beacon reported that she was pictured on Facebook in a series of provocative photos with friends, holding dollar bills and referring to themselves as "Jewbags" and the "Jew cash money team."

Gilbert’s parents are prominent Florida-based Democratic fundraisers, securing at least $500,000 for team Obama, according to Politico.

They have visited the White House numerous times, and Mark’s employer, the investment firm Barclays, was a "major player" in the American cap-and-trade markets, standing to make huge profits from a botched U.S. carbon-trading program championed by the president.

The Gilberts staunchly supported Obama from the get-go, meeting with him multiple times in 2007 and in the months before Obama announced his candidacy.

Since that time, they’ve raised and donated large amounts of money to Obama by tapping a coterie of wealthy associates throughout Florida. They also remain very close to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D., Fla.), who has long employed daughter Dani as a legislative aid.

Mark Gilbert cut his investment chops at the investment firm Goldman Sachs, which has been engulfed in controversy over its unethical business practices.

He then moved to Lehman Brothers, which collapsed amid the 2008 presidential campaign, sending the global economy into a tailspin. Gilbert, however, appears to emerged unscathed. He soon took a lucrative post as director of Barclays' Palm Beach office, and has raised at least $500,000 for the president.

Barclays was a "major player" in U.S. cap-and-trade programs on the East and West coasts, placing a huge bet on Obama’s failed push for a $100 billion carbon-trading program--a program they vociferously supported.

The Gilbert family’s close ties to the administration may be one reason that Dani was not reprimanded for her controversial Facebook photos, which, earlier in the week, were open to public viewing.

Gilbert, a legislative aide for Wasserman Schultz, was appointed this week as the Democrats' Jewish liaison, though reports indicate that some senior staffers on team Obama expressed misgivings about her posting.

Buzzfeed reports that Gilbert was only tapped for the DNC gig due to her relationship with Wasserman Schultz:

The liaison, Dani Gilbert, was hired after months of heated objections from top Obama campaign officials in Chicago and from Wasserman Schultz's own staff at the Democratic National Committee, three well-placed Democratic sources told BuzzFeed. The campaign already has a more senior a full-time Jewish liaison, Ira Forman, who had been the longtime executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Coalition. And Wasserman Schultz's staff was concerned about bringing in Gilbert, a staffer in Wasserman Schultz's personal office who is the daughter of a Boca Raton wealth manager, Mark Gilbert, who is a top-tier bundler for Obama, and a major donor to the president, the Democratic Party, and to Wasserman Schultz's own campaigns.

Buzzfeed’s report also notes that some believe Wasserman Schultz is putting her own fundraising needs before those of the president:

The staffers in Washington and Chicago, the sources said, viewed Wasserman Schultz's insistence, over a period of months, on the hire as a matter of the chairwoman putting her own politics and fundraising ahead of the interests of the re-election campaign on one of the most delicate areas of politics and policy, Obama's relationship with the Jewish community. They also worried that the daughter of a powerful donor could be a difficult fit in what was theoretically a junior role.

The Democratic sources described the episode as the latest in a series of tensions between Wasserman Schultz's own agenda, focused on her Florida political career and her own broad fundraising base, and the interests of the reelection campaign. It was also the most recent incident in which the chairwoman, who Democrats had hoped would be a capable and visible spokeswoman for the president, has instead proved a distraction.