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Calling BS as Donnelly links Kashkari to Shariah

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly told me Monday that he sees “signs of desperation” from GOP rival Neel Kashkari, so it’s puzzling that Donnelly – ahead in recent polls – would resort to such a desperate-sounding tactic as this.

Tim DonnellySomebody within Donnelly’s campaign on Monday posted a Facebook item alleging that Kashkari “supported the United States submitting to the Islamic, Shariah banking code in 2008 when he ran TARP.”

“Shariah is ‘the seditious religio-political-legal code authoritative Islam seeks to impose worldwide under a global theocracy,’ ” the post said. “This revelation is spreading fast, as people like Anita Gunn refer to Mr. Kashkari’s support of Shariah an ‘October Surprise.’”

The post includes a link to a Tweet by Gunn, a conservative online columnist, which in turn links to a 2008 commentary by conservative pundit Frank Gaffney published by the Washington Times. And that’s where the BS begins in earnest.

Gaffney’s opinion piece is full of rhetorical leaps unsupported by facts or evidence – essentially surmising that the Treasury Department’s study of whether Islamic banking could be useful in combating the world’s financial crisis was a foothold for Shariah law that would have everyone in America bowing toward Mecca within a few years. Here’s the section that dealt with Kashkari, who at the time was in charge of Treasury’s Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to prevent a banking-and-finance-sector meltdown:

Thanks to the extraordinary authority conferred on Treasury since September, backed by the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the department is now in a position to impose its embrace of Shariah on the U.S. financial sector. The nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Treasury’s purchase of – at last count – 17 banks and the ability to provide, or withhold, funds from its new slush-fund can translate into unprecedented coercive power.

Concerns in this regard are only heightened by the prominent role Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari will be playing in “Islamic Finance 101.” Mr. Kashkari, the official charged with administering the TARP fund, will provide welcoming remarks to participants. Presumably, in the process, he will convey the enthusiasm about Shariah-Compliant Finance that appears to be the current party line at Treasury.

Note the couching: “in a position to impose,” “can translate into,” and “presumably.” Even in 2008, it was a reach. And in 2014, with TARP not only having succeeded in stabilizing the financial sector but also having profited taxpayers to the tune of $13.6 billion, it’s clear that no creeping Shariah ever materialized.

Yet Donnelly told the Los Angeles Times he stands by the Facebook item: “Given the recent stories and protests about the outrage of the discriminatory nature of Sharia law, we’re horrified that Kashkari would support Sharia anything.”

Except that he didn’t. The only real question Donnelly’s insinuation raises is whether he’s trying to capitalize on Kashkari’s ethnic-sounding name – he’s actually Indo-American, and a Hindu – to score cheap points.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    The whole Kashkari-Donnely comedy is about who will finish second (first loser) to Jerry Brown.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Elwood is right. Who gives a flyin’ craperoo?

  • JohnW

    Donnelly would definitely bring more entertainment value to the campaign.