US County Accused of Investing Scandal

( – The war in Gaza has led to widespread backlash against Israel. The Israeli government is on a mission to get their hostages back, eradicate Hamas and kill the terrorists who murdered nearly 1,200 people on October 7, 2023. To do that, the country needs money, and one source of revenue is through the sale of bonds. Now residents in one Florida county are suing over its investment in the Middle Eastern country.

Largest Investor

Earlier this year, news broke that Palm Beach County was the world’s largest investor in Israeli bonds. Approximately $700 million of the county’s $4.67 billion portfolio has been invested in the bonds. Joseph Abruzzo, the Palm Beach County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, announced the news in March.

The investment came after the Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the increase of investment in Israeli bonds from 10% to 15%. Palm Beach is the county that former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is located in. It sits on the southeast coast of Florida on the Atlantic Ocean. It was the first local government in America to increase its investments in Israeli bonds after the attack by Hamas last year.

Abruzzo also serves as the county’s chief financial officer (CFO) and is in charge of managing its investment portfolio. He told the county’s residents that his job was to make sure that tax dollars were being invested and protected “correctly and wisely.” He said that the bonds from the Middle Eastern nation “are paying at a higher rate” than the bonds from the US Treasury “and are just as safe.”

Lawsuit Against County

On May 15, some Palm Beach County residents filed a lawsuit against the local government for investing in Israel. They are particularly concerned about the $700 million worth of bonds in the portfolio. Residents called an investment of that size in a foreign government’s bonds reckless. They also took issue with the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Alice Wujciak, a Jewish resident who signed onto the lawsuit, spoke at a press conference outside of the Palm Beach Courthouse. She said that she was “deeply concerned” about what taxpayers are supporting. David Piña, the lawyer who filed the suit, said that Abruzzo failed taxpayers morally and “violated two state statutes in the process” by placing 15% of the county’s investments in a risky fund. He didn’t provide any evidence that Israel’s bonds are high-risk.

Abruzzo has explained that Palm Beach would earn about $83 million in interest from its investments in Israel’s bonds. That money is used to help reduce the financial burden on the county’s taxpayers for government services.

Indiana, South Carolina, Ohio, and several other states also invest in Israeli bonds. So do several other Florida counties, including Miami-Dade.

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