Risky Business? Pac Decisionmaking in Congressional Elections

By Robert Biersack; Paul S. Herrnson et al. | Go to book overview

18 The Washington PAC: One Man Can Make a Difference

Barbara Levick-Segnatelli

Founded in 1980 to ensure "a secure Israel in the best interests of the United States," the Washington Political Action Committee, (WASHPAC) has become a respected leader among the well-funded and highly organized groups in the pro-Israeli lobby. 1 WASHPAC began as a "hobby" for the former executive director of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Morris J. Amitay. Federal law forbids lobbying organizations such as AIPAC to contribute to campaigns or to establish or direct the activities and contributions of "pro-Israeli" political action committees. Amitay established WASHPAC so that he would no longer belong prohibited from collecting contributions for congressional candidates. Under his leadership, WASHPAC continues to rank second among pro-Israeli PACs in overall contributions to congressional candidates.

In the 1992 election cycle, Washington PAC, in its twelfth year of operation, carefully distributed $235,000 to 150 U.S. Senate and House candidates. While the number of races that WASHPAC contributed to in 1992 is slightly less than the two previous cycles, it may be explained by money being diverted to the presidential candidates and to the number of WASHPAC members who started pro-IsraelPACs in their own communities. 2

Like other pro-Israeli PACs, WASHPAC bases its contribution decisions on senators' and representatives' "commitment to the principle of a secure Israel in the best interests of the United States as evidenced by voting records, public and private statements, sponsorship and cosponsorship of bills, actions, letters to constituents and ability to influence policy." 3 WASHPAC is unique among the pro-Israeli PACs and lobbying organizations in that it does not have an elaborate

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