Campaign Finance Reform: Will Israel's Lobby Get the Same Scrutiny as China?

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Campaign Finance Reform: Will Israel's Lobby Get the Same Scrutiny as China?

On Jan. 21 at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, Ambassador Andrew I. Killgore, one of seven complainants in an ongoing legal complaint against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), discussed the history and ramifications of the eight-year case. The gist of the complaint, he said, is that AIPAC acts like a political action committee, or PAC, and should have to register as such and fully disclose its financial records to the public. So far, AIPAC has refused to do so.

Amidst the furor over possible Chinese influence-peddling in the White House and Congress, it is surprising that not one mention of "Israel's lobby," as The New York Times has called AIPAC, has made it into the mainstream media. "The 700-1b. gorilla" is how AIPAC is known in Washington, DC circles, according to Ambassador Killgore, referring to its political clout. He also described AIPAC as a "night flower" which would wither in the "sunlight" of open discussion and full disclosure.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has been extraordinarily lax in enforcing election laws against AIPAC, according to Killgore, publisher of this magazine. The complaint was filed with the FEC on Jan. 9, 1989, specifically against AIPAC itself, 27 pro-Israel PACs (understood to be under AIPAC's guidance) and their treasurers. Two years of inactivity, with some legal discovery taking place, followed and then, at the end of 1990, the FEC informed the 27 PACs they were no longer under investigation.

The seven complainants then took the case back to the FEC to compel it to make a ruling. When it came, the FEC fudged it, claiming that, yes, AIPAC crossed the $1,000 campaign donation threshold, but that electioneering was only a small percentage of AIPAC's overall activities, so it didn't matter.

The seven then filed a third complaint against the FEC for having "legally erred" with its "shallow argument. …