PAC Watch: Pro-Israel PACs Show More Early Activity Than in 1996 Cycle

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PAC Watch: Pro-Israel PACs Show More Early Activity Than in 1996 Cycle

Pro-Israel political action committees are best known for their ability to provide favored candidates for the Senate and House badly needed "early money," while most other special interests are still assessing the needs and prospects of candidates.

Until the current 1997-1998 election cycle, in recent years the amounts collected and disbursed by pro-Israel PACs have steadily declined. The declines have been variously attributed to the feeling of donors that the Oslo accords had set a final Middle East peace agreement in motion, disillusionment among donors with what seemed like waste and excessive salaries paid by some pro- Israel PACs, and also an increasing reluctance by some candidates to accept money from pro-Israel PACs.

However, some of the same candidates welcome contributions from pro-Israel individuals, whose motives are not a matter of record, rather than from PACs, whose proIsrael ties have been documented by this magazine despite their non-descriptive or misleading names.

The current election cycle seems to be an exception to the decline in pro-Israel PAC activity. Two years ago, as of Dec. 31, 1995, pro-Israel PACs had collected $1,838,638 and disbursed $541,400 to individual campaigns. At the same point in the current two-year election cycle, as of Dec. 31, 1997 pro-Israel PACs had collected $2,472,423 and had disbursed to individual campaigns $724,465.

Another significant deviation from the cycle two years ago at this time was that in the current cycle the pro-Israel PACs have contributed to 93 Democrats and 52 Republicans. …