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Communists in the Labor Department? Really?

July 19, 2012: 3:08 PM ET

A photo of the original Camp Kinderland in upstate New York. The camp was run by communists in the 1920s, a fact that is now haunting one of Obama's nominees to the Labor Department.

Last time I checked, 2012 isn't the year of the Third Red Scare. Maybe I'm wrong?

Imagine my surprise when I received a press release in my email this morning, complaining about a woman with ties to "radical Jewish" and "Communist" views infiltrating the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I had to double check my calendar. Yep, it's still 2012.

This inflammatory allegation was not based on the person's career and academic record -- but where she sent her kids to summer camp.

You probably missed it, but in February, Obama nominated Erica Groshen to head the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- the division of the Labor Department that collects key economic data like the unemployment rate.

Groshen is currently a vice president for the New York Fed. She has a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard and has also served as an economist for the Cleveland Fed and the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland. With her specialty in labor economics in particular, she seems completely qualified for the position.

But the conservative group, Americans for Limited Government thinks otherwise, based on her "questionable association with a Communist founded camp."

From the release emailed to me this morning:

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today urged the U.S. Senate to reject Obama nominee Erica Groshen to head the Bureau of Labor Statistics, citing her ties to a left-wing organization with communist roots and her radical views against small businesses...

Groshen and her husband are listed in the Kinderland Directory 2011-2012, which indicates that they sent children to the camp during the 1990's and 2000's...

Camp Kinderland was founded in the 1923 as a place for the children of radical Jewish activists. As proudly stated on its website, "Camp Kinderland is true to the vision of its founders." This "vision of its founders" is troubling due to the Communist roots of the camp.

The camp did have Communist connections in its history, but to say that the line about being true to the vision of the founders on its website is the equivalent of a Marxist manifesto is a bit misleading. I reached out to Camp Kinderland's President Bill Rothberg for clarification:

What continues are the progressive values that camp was founded on and it's evolved over the 90 years. Today we have no ideological affiliation or party --  we're not communist or socialist. We do have progressive values. That's part of our program along with swimming, and arts and crafts and hiking.

This is a smear group – they've always done this and they weren't interested in the truth. They didn't ask us about our camp program today.

I also reached out to Americans for Limited Government again and they stood by their report.

We do think someone who sends at least one of her kids to a camp that revels in its history as a red diaper baby camp is revelatory about the beliefs of that individual. 

The New York Fed and Ms. Groshen did not have a comment as of this writing.

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About This Author
Annalyn Censky
Annalyn Kurtz
Writer, CNNMoney

Annalyn Kurtz is a senior writer at CNNMoney, where she covers America's jobs crisis, Federal Reserve policy and other economic news. Before joining the site in 2010, she served as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Prague and interned at Fortune Small Business magazine. @annalynkurtz

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