Fundamentalist Rabbi Daniel Lapin's non-profit Toward Tradition, named as a laundering conduit in the Jack Abramoff influence peddling scandal is having financial difficulties.
The former KTTH talk host's organization has vacated its leased north Mercer Island offices, laid off most of the staff, and is being run- mostly by the good rebbe- and from home.
Don't feel too sorry for him, though, his new work environment isn't exactly Spartan. His manse zestimated at a little over $1 million is in a luxurious neighborhood on the plush south end of the island near Pioneer Park with its old growth, hiking trails and horse paths.
His friend, talk host Michael Medved (KTTH m-f, 12-3p) lives a few blocks away in a comfy cottage valued at some $1.2 million.
Lapin told his audience on his last KTTH show, that he'd be starting a new talk show in February on the large Bay Area conservative talker, KSFO on Sunday afternoons. then on his website, it changed to March. He's still not on the progam schedule down there and now we're wondering if that is real.
His local show was brokered- that is to say Toward Tradition paid to get him on the air. With all the downsizing, maybe leaving KTTH was just another cutback- the rabbi has dissembled before.
No spellbinding broadcaster, the didactic Lapin has failed in syndication, and never really had much luck staying long anywhere on the dial, although he's tried at KVI, KKOL and KTTH. Hard to believe KSFO would take him if the show weren't paid for- and can TT afford to indulge him onto the powerful station in the place of the established David Gold's best-ofs? We'll wait and see.
According to a 2003 IRS filing, Toward Tradition pays Lapin $165,000 a year. We're wondering if it now can afford him?
Lapin sometimes calls his Mercer Island organization a coalition of Jews and Christians to counter anti religious bigotry and preserve the social fabric. Sometimes he says it's to fight "secular fundamentalism." Preserving Judeo-Christian values is high on his list, but we're wondering where greed, hypocrisy, favor-selling, and all that dissembling figures into his much ballyhooed values agenda?
Donations slumped after Lapin and his organization became radioactive after all the many mentions in the national press of his pals-y relationship with Abramoff; who had been an old friend, a founder, a two-time Board president of TT before being unceremoniously dropped after being indicted.
And, he had exchanged some rather embarrassing emails with Lapin.
The funnest ones were when Abramoff asked Lapin to make up an award or two so Abramoff could get into the private Cosmos Club, inhabited by Nobel Prize winners and others of an ilk Abramoff wished to be seen associating with. They settled on "Scholar of Talmudic Studies?" or some such. Lapin claims it was a joke, but Abramoff, it was revealed in the investigation, used it in serious applications.
Not so fun were the checks written by gambling entities and other corporations that were washed through Toward Tradition. Lapin claims he was ignorant of the devious way his old friend was using him.
The haughty sounding rabbi with his Afrikaner accent denies that poverty exists in the U.S.; says Terri Schiavo’s death was "premeditated murder;" and that Living Wills are suicide notes. Loving your pets too much, by his lights, is unbiblical; and tattoos, birth control, piercing, abortions and assisted suicide are immorally equivalent.
He's a man of national stature in right-wing circles- Frank Rich of the New York Times calls him "the show rabbi of the Christian right," Newt Gingrich says he is "my spiritiual guide;" and the KKK's David Duke has written: "...there are so few honest voices like that of Rabbi Lapin."
He's also co-chair of American Alliance of Jews and Christians, created with former GOP presidential also-ran Gary Bauer. Its board of advisers includes Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Watergate conspirator Charles Colson, Abramoff, and Lapin's longtime friend and fellow radio talker Michael Medved.
Here's BlatherWatch's extensive file on the rebbe.
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