If there is a worse candidate for U.S. Congress than Marvin Scott, I haven't found him.I'm still trying to figure out why the Ballard administration put this joker in charge of the waterworks board. Scott alienated any potential grassroots supporters for his campaign when he rammed through Ballard's controversial plan to fund a half billion dollars in street and sidewalk improvements on the backs of Indianapolis' utility ratepayers, who were already facing double-digit increases in their utility bills before this hair-brained scheme was passed. On one measure before a board meeting Scott chaired, he belatedly recused himself because of a conflict of interest brought to his attention by the staff after a vote had already been taken. When I asked Scott why he had a conflict of interest, Scott told me he could not recall.
Incredibly un-credible, Scott is in the midst of yet another run for Congress. He's run for one seat or another for more than a decade, coming close once but always losing in the end.
Thank goodness for that.
Whether he's leading a campaign overrun by bigots or bringing on a campaign manager with an unapologetically checkered past, Scott seems to find new and ugly ways to embarrass himself in his bid to unseat Democratic Rep. Andre Carson. He is expected to lose the race for the 7th District seat in November, but the idea that Scott was able to win the GOP nomination against a much worthier opponent is downright scary.
On Tuesday, Scott spent about 45 confusing and pathetic minutes defending his campaign before columnists and editors at The Indianapolis Star. During his visit, he attempted to link Carson with Muslim extremism simply because of an advertisement that ran in the back of a magazine that had written about Carson. It was a ridiculous and desperate ploy, one apparently aimed at trying to scare up votes from people who have a problem with Carson's Muslim faith.
To be sure, there are legitimate concerns about Carson's ties to Muslim extremists. As I reported here, Carson relied on the unindicted co-conspirator in a federal terrorist investigation, Council on American Islam Relations (CAIR), to raise money in D.C. for his first run for Congress. Carson later returned campaign contributions from at least one contributor with terrorist ties. It's just that Scott and his controversial campaign manager, Stan Solomon, don't appear capable of raising those concerns without using the slightest of tact. Carson spent this past 4th of July weekend for the second year in a row at the Islamic Society of North America's convention in Chicago. Indianapolis' own WTHR did an excellent 2-part investigative report on some of the troubling links of the Plainfield, Indiana-based organization to Islamic extremists. Some of the findings of that report as reported elsewhere:
Tucked away on the farmland of rural Plainfield, Indiana, are headquarters to one of the largest Islamic organizations in the country – the Islamic Society of North America.You can watch Parts I and II of WTHR's investigative report here and here.
Its charismatic leader, Dr. Sayyid Syeed, promotes ISNA as a mainstream organization of American Muslims. He preaches family values, unity and acceptance of all religions.
"Here we are Muslims, young and old, men and women," he said in a Friday prayer service earlier this year. "We respect Christianity. We respect Judaism…. America should be proud of this community."
It's talk that is worlds away from the beliefs of Islamic extremists.
But although ISNA is a well-respected Islamic organization that's received accolades from Indiana's late Governor and even grant money from the federal government, some charge it is a supporter of extreme ideology.
Steven Emerson, author of the bestselling "American Jihad: The terrorists Living Among Us," dedicated an entire section of his book to ISNA as a supporter of militant Islamic groups.
Emerson says ISNA's popular annual conventions, attended by thousands of Muslims, serve as gathering places for some Islamic extremists to raise money and share ideas.
"I think ISNA has been an umbrella, also a promoter of groups that have been involved in terrorism," Emerson told Eyewitness News. "I am not going to accuse ISNA of being directly involved in terrorism. I will say ISNA has sponsored extremists, racists, people who call for Jihad against the United States."
In fact, we found about a dozen charities, organizations or individuals under federal scrutiny for possible ties to terrorism that are linked in some way to ISNA – ties sources tell us have also placed ISNA under the federal microscope.
ISNA has provided convention booth space and helped raise money for a number of Islamic charities later linked to terrorism by the federal government – groups like the Holy Land Foundation.
ISNA has also supported Hamas leader Mousa Marzook, who was deported from the U.S. in 1997 and is on the State Department's designated terrorist list. Marzook thanked ISNA in an open letter of appreciation for support of his legal defense fund.
"It doesn't hurt it you give a few words of support or if you give a few words of sympathy," Syeed said. "The issue is, do I get involved in some major campaign? Then it would be a problem."
Emerson said ISNA took Marzook on "as their poster child."
"Go ask ISNA whether Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad are terrorist groups," he said.
When we asked, Syeed said: "That's not us."
But does he condemn the groups?
"We will condemn anywhere there is hate, whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jew or whatever."