Sen. Kirk aide said to be point-man in campaign against Hagel

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Richard Goldberg speaks for Kirk’s family after stroke Jan.2012, Dr. Richard Fessler (photo: couriernews.suntimes)

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk’s chief of staff has his hands full. Richard Goldberg is said to be manning the unofficial headquarters of the campaign to knock out Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of Defense.

Kirk has been a huge beneficiary of Israel lobby donations, and while the leading lobby group AIPAC is reportedly staying out of the Hagel fight, nightflowers bloom in the dark (as a former AIPAC aide once bragged), and who better at the helm than Kirk aide Goldberg with his “undying commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel.”

Roll Call: Has Kirk’s Office Been Running a Secret Anti-Hagel Campaign?

A top aide to Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., has been distributing anti-Chuck Hagel emails to a large, undisclosed listserv of staffers — including Democrats — beginning as early as Dec. 20, according to the more than a dozen emails obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Richard Goldberg, a deputy chief of staff in Kirk’s office who also focuses on foreign policy issues, has been sending as many as three emails a day to the list, which CQ Roll Call confirmed includes reporters, Republican policy staffers and some Democrats. The emails typically include links or text of articles that cast Hagel — a former Republican senator from Nebraska and President Barack Obama’s secretary of Defense nominee — in a negative light.

Kirk served for 10 years in the House before winning President Obama’s old Senate seat in 2011 with the help of wads of pro-Israel cash. Kirk suffered a stroke a year ago and only returned to the Capitol a few days ago. Last year, when Kirk’s office originated legislation to curb Palestinian rights, we took a look at who was running his office in his absence; and Goldberg’s pro-Israel bona fides jumped out. Then weeks later it was revealed that Goldberg was the go between in a scheme in which an Israeli Knesset member seeded anti-Palestinian legislation in Congress. The bill required the State Department to count Palestinian refugees, with the goal of stripping Palestinians of their refugee status, and it became law last spring.

In April [Knesset member Einat] Wilf and Rosen met with Kirk’s deputy chief of staff, Richard Goldberg. Kirk is recovering from a stroke he suffered a few months ago, and Goldberg is promoting the senator’s legislative efforts.

After a preliminary draft of the bill was worded, AIPAC officials went on board in an attempt to pass it, holding meeting with many of the senators on the appropriations committee in an attempt to sway them into supporting the legislation.

These days Goldberg’s twitter feed appears to be myopically dedicated to slamming Chuck Hagel, for instance publicizing a Commentary piece that highlights Hagel’s “anti-Israel positions,” including his understanding of Palestinian desperation under occupation.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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