Friday, May 27, 2011
EXCLUSIVE: Who is J Street's mystery donor?
Last September, I published a post in which I asked "who the heck is Consolacion Esdicul?"
Another lie that was exposed by Eli Lake on Friday was the claim that most of J Street's money came from small donations by American Jews. In fact, aside from the 15% that came from George Soros, 50% came from a woman in Hong Kong named Consolacion Esdicul. The group's 990 forms -- which I've also obtained and put online for the first time here -- show the group's single largest contribution, in the odd sum of $811,697 coming from one Consolacion Esdicul of Happy Valley, a Hong Kong suburb. Esdicul, whose name is Filipino, has no presence on Google or Nexis aside from this story, and people I spoke to in Jewish groups left and right had never heard of her.
Spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick tells me the same thing the group told Lake:
She is a business associate of Bill Benter, another J Street supporter from Pittsburgh who solicited Consolacion's gift. It's a large gift, but it should be put in the context of the $11.2 million the J Street family of organizations has raised over the last 2.5 years (full details below).
Esdicul's contribution was just about half of the $1.6 million the group received during the year in question. Spitalnick says that they haven't received any other contributions from Esdicul , and that their operating budget over the last three years for the group's "family of organizations" is $9.5 million.
It is, to say the least, unusual that a group would get half its budget from a foreigner doing a favor to a business associate. I left a message for Benter, who heads a medical transcription company, to ask about how that came about.
Benter, as it turns out, is one of the world's most successful betters on horse races, and Happy Valley, a Hong Kong suburb, is the location of one of the world's largest horse race tracks.
I did a lot of speculating about Connie Esdicul here and here. I theorized that she might be the sister of Benter's wife, Vivian Fung, or the widow of Benter's former betting partner Alan Woods. In the course of my research, I discovered that Benter was also a donor to Barack Hussein Obama, the Democratic party of Virginia and Rabbis for Human Rights.
But the truth came to me from a source I found while in the US. The answer is really quite simple according to my source: Consolacion (Connie) Esdicul is Bill Benter's long-time secretary. She has been his secretary for the last 25 years, and may have been even more than his secretary at one time. So Benter (surprise, surprise!) is the likely source of all that money, which may not have been reported as such to the appropriate US authorities.
Just so you know that the source is authentic, here's a picture of Benter's office building:
I have the address and the phone number. Google Street View did the rest.
When you are a rich man you can buy a lot of things. But honesty cannot be bought.