Warnock's past scandals reverberate as Georgians prepare to decide Senate control

Charges of anti-Semitism, racism and sexism haunt Democrat

Updated: December 14, 2020 - 9:22am

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In the internet age, nothing ever disappears.

Ever.

As two key Senate races approach in Georgia -- which will determine who controls the highest legislative chamber in the land -- several scandals have reemerged about one candidate, Democrat Raphael Warnock.

Warnock, 51, has worked as the senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church for the past 15 years. Running against Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler, Warnock has won a slew of endorsements from high-powered political players, including former presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy and Brian Schatz.

But these are desperate times for Democrats. They believe Joe Biden won the White House, now they need the Senate to get anything done. But Warnock's baggage is complicating the plan.

Since he entered the Senate race, Warnock has been trying to persuade Jews that he is supportive of their views. But just last week, new video surfaced of the preacher again linking Israel to racism.

In the video, reportedly from a Palm Sunday sermon in 2015, Warnock likened Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to former segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace.

Warnock made the statements shortly after the 2015 Israeli elections in which Netanyahu’s Likud Party took control. In his sermon, Warnock said he heard a “very clever politician running for re-election as prime minister suddenly announce ‘No two-state solution,'" referring to Netanyahu, who days before the election had said he didn't foresee such a solution. 

"That’s tantamount to saying, ‘occupation today, occupation tomorrow, occupation forever,’” Warnock said, using phrasing mirroring Wallace’s racist call in 1963 for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Warnock has gone there before. In 2019, Warnock joined a group of African American church leaders to tour the Middle East. Afterward, he released a statement accusing Israel of engaging in tactics like those used by apartheid South Africa and Germany, saying he saw "patterns that seem to have been borrowed and perfected from other previous repressive regimes."

In a 2018 sermon, after Hamas terrorists struck at the Israeli border, Warnock accused the Israeli government of shooting down "unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey … like they don’t matter at all."

But Warnock now says he's a "friend" of Israel. "I will stand with Israel and the Jewish people to protect their interests, advocate for the human dignity of the Palestinian people and their position in the world, promote peace, and ensure the U.S. remains economically strong, safe, and secure," he said.

Meanwhile, Warnock has expressed support for the Rev.Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s favorite pastor, who has been criticized for anti-Semitic remarks. Wright was also blasted for sermons in which he proclaimed “God damn America,” and another in which he said the U.S. government created AIDS to kill blacks in America.

In another sermon, Warnock declared: "This country is ever bit as sexist as it is racist."

Then there was the time in the mid-1990’s at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, where Warnock worked, that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was invited to give a speech.

Castro “blast[ed] the United States with the vigor that was missing from his speech to the United Nations earlier in the day,” the Miami Herald reported at the time. The dictator finished “the evening with a rousing rendition of the socialist hymn Internationale.”

There's more. In 2002, Warnock and another minister were accused of hindering an investigation into child abuse at a church-run camp.

Warnock and the minister were charged after police said they interceded between officers investigating the abuse allegations and camp counselors, who were teenage church employees, according to the Baltimore Sun.

His opponent's team brought up the incident. “What exactly was going on there?” asked Loeffler spokesman Stephen Lawson. “What was the nature of the child abuse? What was his involvement? If he wants Georgia voters to believe anything he says, he needs to come clean and explain what happened.”

Team Warnock fired back. “It’s no surprise that as Reverend Warnock’s support grows, the false attacks start,” a Warnock campaign spokesperson told Fox News. “The truth is, he was protecting the rights of young people to make sure they had a lawyer or a parent when being questioned. Law enforcement officials later apologized and praised him for his help in this investigation.”

Warnock was also charged in 2002 with obstructing a police investigation into suspected child abuse at a Maryland summer camp, according to a Baltimore Sun report. Police said Warnock and a fellow reverend had tried to prevent officers from interviewing teenage counselors at the camp.

“I’ve never encountered resistance like that at all,” State Trooper Dianne Berry told the Sun.

"The ministers interrupted a police interview of a counselor Wednesday in a room at the camp and, after investigators moved the interview to a nearby picnic area, interfered again and subsequently tried to prevent a camper from directing police to another potential witness, according to charging documents," said The Sun.

Charges against Warnock were eventually dropped, and the reverend has repeatedly denied the accusation that he attempted to obstruct police.

Then this year, Warnock was accused by his wife of running over her foot with his car during a heated argument days before he filed paperwork to officially seek the Senate seat, according to a police report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Raphael Warnock said he and his wife separated in November and three weeks ago signed documents that aimed to resolve their divorce. But he said the two got into a sharp disagreement on Sunday night about her desire to take their two young children to visit relatives in Senegal," the AJC said. 

"He told police that his wife refused to close the right rear passenger door of his car so that he could leave. He told authorities he began to 'slowly' drive forward — and then heard his wife accuse him of driving over her foot."

In the internet age, you gotta' figure there's more. There's always more.