After releasing a lewd video this week in which comedienne Sarah Silverman offers to perform a sexual act with billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson if he’ll support President Obama’s reelection campaign, the team behind the video is taking some heat.
The video was born of a project started after a pro-Obama video Silverman did during the 2008 campaign, “The Great Schlep.” Released to great fanfare, that video offered a funny take on urging young voters to go to Florida and convince their Jewish grandparents to vote for Obama.
Based on “The Great Schlep’s” success, on Monday the producers of the video – Ari Wallach and Mik Moore – announced that they had created a new organization, Schlep Labs, to solicit creative ideas from the public to support Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
The Silverman video represents the first of those to come to fruition, submitted by Silverman as a result of a solicitation by Schlep Labs two weeks ago.
In the video, Silverman offers to “scissor” Adelson while wearing a bikini if he gives Obama’s reelection campaign $100 million instead of Romney’s campaign. She then demonstrates what that means, using a puppy as a stand-in for Adelson.
Some in the Jewish community didn’t like the video’s timing or its target, Wallach told JTA in an interview this week.
On Monday, the day the video was released, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, announced a new $13 million donation to Birthright Israel. Also on Monday, the news organization ProPublica published details of a federal investigation against Adelson regarding potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a law that bars American companies from hiring foreign officials to “affect or influence any act or decision” to benefit American businesses. Last week, the National Jewish Democratic Council rescinded a petition urging the Republican Party to return campaign money from Adelson in light of allegations that he allowed prostitution at one of his casinos in Macau.
Wallach said he fielded angry calls from Jewish organizations after the video’s release. He acknowledged that the video “cut close to the bone” with its brand of humor but said that Adelson—who contributes millions to Jewish causes, many of them right-wing ones—is fair game.
“At end of day, he has sworn to work against a sitting president’s re-election efforts,” Wallach said. “The goal isn’t to embarrass anyone in terms of other people in the Jewish community. The goal is to have Romney decide whether he wants to pervert democracy by taking funding from one individual who will have outsized influence on a majority of issues that are way outside of the mainstream of what most American Jews think.”
More is yet to come, Wallach said.
“We’ve had enough submissions in past four hours that could probably take us through to the next elections,” Wallach said on the first day Schlep Laps announced it was accepting new ideas. Proposals can be submitted via the Schlep Labs website and are reviewed by a team including people who work at new media, broadcast and film companies.
Schlep Labs is a project of the Jewish Committee for Education and Research, a so-called super-PAC created in January. In March, the PAC netted a $200,000 donation from Alexander Soros, son of hedge fund manager and philanthropist George Soros. Both have given to liberal Jewish organizations in recent years.