By The Hill Staff - 02/03/05 12:00 AM EST
Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) accepted $1,550 in political contributions from an Illinois professor who accompanied former Secretary of State Colin Powell on an official trip to Ukraine last month and whose writings lawmakers have been characterized as anti-Semitic.
Hastert has the only documented ties to Myron Kuropas, a professor of education at Northern Illinois University (NIU), a former elementary school educator and a former aide to President Ford and Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.).
How Kuropas secured an invitation to travel with Powell is still a mystery. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) has asked Powell’s successor, Condoleezza Rice, to investigate how Kuropas was invited to join the delegation that took part in the inaugural ceremonies of President Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev.
“How does a known anti-Semite walk onto a U.S. government plane with the Secretary of State, as a member of the President’s delegation … without anyone knowing how he got there or who recommended him?” Emanuel said in a statement.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Government Reform Committee, and 11 other Jewish Democrats have asked Northern Illinois University to repudiate Kuropas’s remarks.
Asked how Kuropas secured the invitation to Yushchenko’s inauguration, John Feehery, Hastert’s spokesman, said yesterday, “We didn’t do anything for him.”
Feehery said that Kuropas had talked to Hastert’s office and wanted to set up meetings but that no meetings were arranged. “We did not do anything to encourage President Bush’s people to put him on the trip,” Feehery said, adding, “It’s a White House issue. Hastert does not know him.”
Although Feehery cited reports that Kuropas was the chairman of Ukrainians for Bush-Cheney, the Federal Election Commission has no record of the group. Yushchenko’s wife is a native of Chicago.
At press time, it was unclear whether Hastert would return the campaign contributions.
The Bush administration also distanced itself from Kuropas, who told The Hill that the State Department invited him on the trip. But a State Department spokesman told reporters last week, “I think that’s a White House question.”
White House spokesman Jim Morrell said that if the White House had known about Kuropas’s statements, “he would not have been invited.”
Kuropas, who has a doctorate in education from the University of Chicago, has taught two courses on the history of education for the past 15 years at NIU.
Both Waxman and Emanuel have characterized some of Kuropas’s weekly columns in the Chicago-based Ukrainian Weekly as anti-Semitic.
In a column in 2000, Kuropas wrote, “Big money drives the Holocaust industry. To survive, the Holocaust industry is always searching for its next mark. Ukraine’s turn is just around the corner.” In 1994, he wrote that Ukrainians who participated in the Holocaust did so because “Jews helped Stalin engineer Ukraine’s genocidal famine.”
Asked in a telephone interview yesterday about his writings, Kuropas denied that he is an anti-Semite. He said, “It’s not all Jews but some Jews” who upset him because “they’ve written about my people and written about it for years and years and years.”
In a statement he later sent to The Hill, Kuropas said, “All of the statements attributed to me regarding ‘the Holocaust industry’ were taken out of context from … my columns. … I am not a Holocaust denier. I am not an anti-Semite. Never in my 18 years at NIU have I allowed any of my personal differences with certain Jewish behavior to influence my teaching in any way. I celebrate diversity.”
NIU President John Peters wrote to Waxman and Emanuel that Korupas’s affiliation with NIU had nothing to do with his selection as part of the delegation.
“I surmise that Dr. Kuropas’s personal private activities are those which have brought him to the attention of the delegation organizers.”
He continued, “For the record, let me reiterate that NIU does not condone anti-Semitism … in any form. … He was acting as a private citizen, and the reasons for this participation in the Ukraine trip are in no way related to his duties here at NIU.”