U.S. representatives claimed their colleague, Rep. Ilhan Omar, was anti-Semitic when she brought up AIPAC’s influence over members of Congress.
by Alex Kotch
Part 2 - Donations from AIPAC Members
AIPAC is not a political action committee and does not donate directly to political candidates, but it requires its members to donate to the campaigns of certain members of Congress in order to receive exclusive membership benefits. Doug Rossinow, an academic and author of a forthcoming book on American Zionism, wrote in the Washington Post that since the late 1970s, AIPAC “has informally directed substantial campaign contributions toward chosen candidates for Congress.”
The New Yorker explained AIPAC’s role in the late 1980s establishing allied pro-Israel PACs, which often had AIPAC leaders in charge and “looked to [AIPAC] for direction” regarding campaign contributions. AIPAC, which has generally been allied with the Republican Party, reportedly recruited individual bundlers, who would collect AIPAC members’ donations to direct them to the campaigns of senators and representatives. “The goal was to develop people who could get a member of Congress on the phone at a moment’s notice,” wrote the New Yorker’s Connie Bruck.
On its website, AIPAC details its “Congressional Club,” a group of members who commit to donate at least $5,000 per election cycle “in a clearly pro-Israel context” to “pro-Israel politics.” “The Congressional Club is designed to recognize politically active members of AIPAC who support pro-Israel candidates for the House and Senate,” the group says.
Progressive activist Ady Barkin wrote a Twitter thread on Monday, describing an instance in which AIPAC’s political spending “was definitely about the Benjamins.”
AIPAC is a central pillar of the occupation. Without Congressional support, the Likud/anti-Palestine/pro-occupation project would be radically undermined. AIPAC is the anchor of that support, and its money and Sheldon Adelson’s money are indispensable to the work.— Ady Barkan🔥🌹 (@AdyBarkan) February 11, 2019
It’s difficult to quantify how much money going to political campaigns each election cycle comes from AIPAC members. But prominent AIPAC booster Haim Saban is one of the United States’ biggest political donors, having given considerable amounts of money to congressional campaigns and millions to super PACs and other outside groups that spend heavily on elections to support or oppose political candidates. Saban, who funds AIPAC’s semi-annual Saban Leadership Seminar, donated $3.3 million to Democratic outside political spending groups during the 2018 election cycle. In the 2016 cycle, Saban and his wife, Cheryl Saban, donated $13.8 million to outside political spending groups.
Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson split with AIPAC in 2007 after the lobbying group supported an increase in aid to Palestine, but as recently as 2014, AIPAC’s fundraising arm was in business with an Adelson-controlled company. AIPAC now supports ending aid to Palestine.
Adelson and his wife, Miriam, spent $123 million on the 2018 midterm elections, all of it benefiting Republicans, by far the biggest total of any American family, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of that total went to two GOP super PACs, the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund. The couple’s prodigious donations benefiting Republicans earned Sheldon Adelson direct access to President Trump and Miriam Adelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Both billionaire donors have said that Israel is their chief focus.
“I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel,” Saban has said.
“I’m a one-issue person. That issue is Israel,” Adelson said in 2017.