Religion Once Again Poisoning Politics In Broward





The Founding Fathers wanted to keep out religion out of politics. To put an exclamation point on that belief, they wrote the “no religious test “clause in Article VI of the Constitution.

Sometimes it seems that Broward County candidates have no knowledge of what our Founding Fathers believed.  In the current Democratic primary campaign, a number of candidates think their Jewish religious connections are a qualification, if not a path to office.

I don’t know if Judicial Candidate Nina Weatherly DiPietro is Jewish. But, thanks to her mail, I now know that at least one set of her grandparents were Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

I also know that that I should support Lea Krauss for the bench based on her campaign theme: “Despite my goyish punim, I am not a shiksa.”

Translating to English rather than Yiddish: Although I have a gentile’s face, I am not a non-Jewish woman.”

Krauss had a mail ad featuring a picture of her with an ersatz rabbi studying the Torah.

The most complicated story is Sheriff Scott Israel.

Despite a Jewish name, a story still floats around that he is a Born Again Christian.

Israel’s staff vehemently denies it. They say this rumor was a dirty trick organized by GOP operative Roger Stone in Israel’s 2008 race against Al Lamberti.

This probably explains why I received an oversized card featuring an Israel campaign ad that begins “My Jewish faith is a central part of my entire life” and goes on to call himself “Broward’s first Jewish Sheriff.”

I think Israel should have gone all the way and had his ad feature a photo of him like this:




(photo supplied by Sam Fields)



Oh, how the times have changed in Broward.

Forty years ago the Sheriff would have changed his name from “Israel” to “Ireland”.

Lea Krauss would be hoping that the voters thought Krauss was German.

And Weatherly would have been telling us that the only thing her grandparents had to do with Auschwitz was that they were guards.

Up until recent times being a Jew was a political liability if you went north of the New River. Fort Lauderdale was deeply Anti-Semitic, along with much of the rest of the state. I know about all this based on the political brouhaha I got involved in in 1975.

Anyone remember Jack Eckerd?

He was the owner of Eckerd’s Drugs and a Republican who regularly and unsuccessfully sought political office in Florida. In November 1974 he was on the ballot for the United States Senate against Democrat Dick Stone.

Sometime just before Election Day, the Eckerd campaign placed newspaper ads titled “The Real Choice Is Between These Two Men.” A chart contrasted Eckherd with Stone on number issues such as education and business background.

It also compared religions.

Eckerd was listed as a “Protestant.”  Stone was labeled “Jewish.”

Reflecting the change that was coming over Florida, the ad backfired and Eckerd lost to Stone.

Flash forward six month later and Stone is ensconced in his “doorless” Senate Office. Having no door on his office was Stone’s hook on “open government”. In the meantime Jack Eckerd had been nominated by President Gerald Ford to head up the General Services Administration which is the General Contractor and landlord of just about every government structure.

I was a lobbyist for the liberal organization Americans For Democratic Action. I was making the rounds to introduce myself to new members of Congress and I dropped by Stone’s office.  If I had a notion that Stone had forgiven Eckerd, it was quickly disabused by his Administrative Assistant Eli Feinberg.

On the spot Stone’s staff cooked up a scheme to have me testify at the Senate Committee reviewing Eckerd’s nomination. So a few days later I appeared before the committee with a copy of the ad expressing my outrage.

Shortly thereafter Eckerd testified. He disavowed knowledge of the ad but did apologize anyway.

Eventually the nomination when to the Senate floor and Stone, wanting to look magnanimous, voted for Eckerd. He was appointed and did a pretty good job as evidenced by President Jimmy Carter retaining him in 1977.

If the Stone/Eckerd race effectively ended anti-Semitism as a tool for running statewide in Florida, it is disappointing to see that these days Jewish identity is a vote getting tool in Broward.

I am not so naïve as to imagine voters don’t think this way. But that is not the same as a candidate openly making that appeal.

It is especially odious that judicial candidates would do something like this.

I hope The Florida Supreme Court will look into this and set some standards that will keep religion out of judicial politics…the way the Founding Fathers rightfully intended.




16 Responses to “Religion Once Again Poisoning Politics In Broward”

  1. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    All religion is bad. Especially yours.

  2. Just Saying says:

    Typical religion bashing from rabid atheist Sam Fields. Many of us don’t find it offensive to learn a candidate — of any faith — appreciates the role God plays in his/her life.

  3. Real Deal says:

    Judges should be appointed by panels of retired judges selected at random by lottery to review each candidate applying for a vacancy on the bench. The review should include credentials, demonstrated expertise in the law, demonstrated good professional temperament, and factors such as diversity on the bench and local community involvement and understanding should also be considered.

    The panel provides three names of the best qualified candidates to the Governor who by law shall, on a totally non-partisan basis, fill the vacancy from that list.

    It is completely unethical to ask judges to run for office and collect money mostly from the lawyers who will practice before them. Campaigning in an electoral sense is undignified for any judge to undergo. While no method of appointing judges is perfect, Florida would be much better off appointing judges in this or similar manner than electing them. Especially since nobody who votes for judges has any clue how to tell one from the other.

  4. HillaryIn2016And2020 says:

    Sam Fields, will you please shut the hell about religions.

    I have no problem with any candidate informing the voters of their religion.

    I have no problem if candidates informs me where their grandparents were born.

    I have no problem is a candidates informs me if they are straight or gay.

    Sam, did you write this article so you could be ‘excited’ seeing your name in print?

  5. Sam The Sham says:

    Dear Sam,

    It is Tribalism, not religion that you see here swaying elections. Jews vote overwhelmingly for other Jews just like Blacks vote overwhelmingly for other Blacks. Tribalism is, after all, the stock in trade of the Democrat party. Divide, play the victim card, tribalism.

    You mention “Up until recent times being a Jew was a political liability” and then go on to describe what happened in 1974 in the Eckerd/Stone election. Only you would think that 1974 was “recent times”.

    It is funny how you describe how you conspired to play the “outraged Jew” in 1975 but now, in this article bemoan the fact people play on their Jewish heritage. It seems you like to have it both ways. The only word that comes to mind to describe such action is “Whore”.

  6. Di Pietro/Trump 2016 says:

    “Judge Nina” (leave the Di Pietro on the side with the slaw and pickles) isn’t fooling anyone with her third cousin twice removed on Uncle Moshe side is Jewish. Why? Not once did she ever mention this fact at the condos? Why? I would speculate that it was easier to sell this line of BS in the mail then to bs people to their face. Meet her and she oozes WASP Shiksa.

    Worse yet, her family is still hard core Trump supporters. enough said.

  7. a Rabbi or a guy posing as a rabbi? says:

    Looks like her mail was designed by Michael Kaplan. Can’t be certain but the “rabbi” in the Krauss mail piece looks a little like an older gentlemen who has appeared as an extra in other Kaplan mailpieces.

    Maybe Ms. Krauss or her wife April Halle would clear up what Temple they attend and if this “rabbi” is their Rabbi.

  8. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear Readers,
    I really took it to heart that my critics—and you know who you are—insisted that it was relevant if not important to know the religion of candidates for Sheriff or Judge because that will affect the way they do their job.

    By God you were right.

    SHERIFF—Turns out that the kid escaped from the Courtroom because the Jewish Sheriff replaced all the handcuffs with designer bracelets. But don’t worry; he got them 40% off at Nordstrom Rack

    From now on misbehaving prisoners don’t get bread and water. They get day old bagels and flat seltzer…hopefully this does not violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment”

    JUDGES—After talking with a few friends on the bench they told me that the judge’s religion dictates how they rule on things like a Motions For Summary Judgment:

    Jewish: I have to deny your motion; but, I want you to know I feel worse than you about it.

    Catholic: I was going to grant it until I learned that you improperly touched yourself.

    Episcopalian: I would have granted the motion but it was against a Fortune Five Hundred company

    Muslim: Did you say Motion for Summary Judgement or Summary Execution?

    Atheist: We live in a meaningless universe where human existence is but a pointless chemical fluke. So what difference does this silly motion mean within the scheme of an ever expanding cosmos?

    Buddhist: Today I’m going to deny your motion. But in my next life I’ll grant it.

  9. Courthouse Rambler says:

    Fields denounces the role of religion in elections. I have seen Fields tell Jewish jokes to Jewish judges to win favor with them in court. Religion is okay with him when he can use it to win a case! Maybe he should denounce Hypocrisy.

  10. jack latona says:

    years ago in California Stanley Mosk, ne Moskowitz, ran against Caspar Weinberger, whose ancestors had converted to Christianity generations past. Mosk, who was a good guy, had union friends who ran anti-semitic ads against Weinberger. The good old days?

  11. Buddy says:


    I’m sure Sam and others remember the 1982 Democratic primary for a House seat between Larry Smith and Alan Becker.
    Believing his generic anglo last name was a determent among Jewish condo voters, Smith began a desperate campaign to reveal his Jewish heritage.

    Smith distributed a two-page ad featuring a picture of Smith at his son Grant Smith’s Bar Mitzvah, another photo of Smith presenting a Holocaust Resolution along with a third of Smith and his wife, Sheila, on a South Broward Jewish Federation trip to Israel.

    The ad also prominently mentioned Smith’s directorship of Hollywood’s Temple Solel. If any voter was still confused about the name “Smith,” the ad even referred to his wife as the former Sheila Cohen.

    The campaign was the brainchild of Smith and his campaign manager Bernie Friedman, who is now a Broward lobbyist. In part, Smith’s ad were to counter flyers which trumpeted Becker’s support of Israel.

    At the time, roughly one in four of the Democratic voters in the heavily Democratic South Broward-based U. S. House District were Jewish. A political consultant was quoted in The Miami Herald as saying Broward Jews voted in higher percentages than regular Democrats because they tended to be elderly and interested in politics.

    Friedman understood the math.

    “We’re not saying, ‘Just because Larry is Jewish, vote for him.’ We are showing Larry in the community being active,” Friedman said.

    I am curious if Bernie said it with a straight face.

    During one debate, Becker was asked about the ads.

    “Just last night I was speaking to my wife, the former Deborah Lieberman, and we decided it wasn’t an issue,” Becker quipped.

    “The room erupted in laughter. Smith didn’t crack a smile,” The Herald wrote.

    But Smith got the last laugh. He won the primary and the U. S. House seat.

    It is interesting to note that Friedman eventually went to work for Becker’s law firm. Smith ended up in an office there, too, after Congress.

  12. zigy says:

    and who can forget when , I believe, Harvey ford was running for judge and he stated his name was, again I believe, fishbien , didn’t work he still lost

  13. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    What the Hell does someone’s religion have to do with fitness for Public Office?

  14. Separation of church and state? says:

    It appears that the ones Sam noted in this piece, do not come close to the television ad of George Sarduy running for reelection as a judge in Dade.

    Sarduy goes beyond simply mentioning his religion. He shows himself praying and then kissing his leather bound bible at 20 seconds in

  15. Disgusted says:

    So, in Broward, it is not the JewDishEairy? Say it ain’t so, Joe.

  16. carolina says:

    religion should be very private – it should not be in schools, politics, or imposed on anyone. It should be a matter just for you. It seems now that it has turned into a monetary tool. What a shame. Greed seems to have overtaken the world, dragging religion right along with it. I guess if some feel this will get them through the pearly gates they “will be saved”. I have my doubts.