Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Pro-Israel PAC Donations to 1992 Candidates near $3 Million

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Pro-Israel PAC Donations to 1992 Candidates near $3 Million

Article excerpt

Pro-Israel PAC Donations to 1992 Candidates Near $3 Million

With 77 open seats in the House, seven open seats in the Senate, and an anticipated turnover of up to 150 seats in the House alone, political action committee donations of virtually every special interest have dramatically increased in the 1991-1992 election cycle. Among the special interest groups are 54 active pro-Israel PACs to whom this year's races are particularly important, because in the 103rd Congress there will be 15 vacancies on the powerful Appropriations Committee, which decides how much foreign aid will go to Israel each year. Also of special concern to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel's Washington lobby, is the fact that five pro-Israel members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have retired or been defeated. They are William S. Broomfield (R-MI), Edward F. Feighan (D-OH), Mel Levine (D-CA), Howard Wolpe (D-MI), and Gus Yatron (D-PA).

As of June 30, four months before election day, the 54 pro-Israel PACs already had given $2,685,680 to 272 candidates, according to reports filed by the PACs with the Federal Election Commission. The recipients included 218 incumbents and 54 challengers.

During the same period, two Arab-American political action committees donated a total of $26,000 to 26 candidates. Of this, the National Association of Arab Americans PAC (NAAA PAC) gave $25,800 and the American Council PAC donated $200. Pro-Israel PACs thus far have outspent Arab-American PACs by $101 to $1.

There is no legal limit to how much money a candidate may spend on his or her campaign because in 1976 the Supreme Court ruled in Buckley v. Valeo that spending limits for congressional campaigns were unconstitutional. This decision, wrote former Missouri Congressman James W. Symington in an August letter to the Washington Post, "unleashed both millionaire candidates and the PACs."

In recent years, spending on congressional campaigns has spiraled. One reason is that the costs of campaigning have skyrocketed. Whereas in most other democracies campaigning is restricted to a limited period and the broadcast media are required to donate free or low-cost air time to candidates, the U.S. media treat candidates like any other commercial advertisers. …

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