PAC Watch: Donations by Pro-Israel PACs for 1994 Cycle Lowest in Many Years

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, August 31, 1994 | Go to article overview

PAC Watch: Donations by Pro-Israel PACs for 1994 Cycle Lowest in Many Years


PAC Watch: Donations by Pro-Israel PACs for 1994 Cycle Lowest in Many Years

Of the 116 deceptively named pro-Israel political action committees that have been active during the past 18 years, 63 are at work in the 1993-94 election cycle. However, according to statements filed with the Federal Election Commission, they had collected $4,041,562 as of March 31, 1994, and had donated only $950,591 to a total of 169 candidates for the Senate and the House of Representatives. Of the recipients, 123 were Democrats, 45 were Republicans and 1 was from the Democratic Farmer Labor Party. Recipients included 146 incumbents, 21 challengers, and 2 who are retiring.

The totals confirm that contributions to pro-Israel PACs have dropped very sharply since the 1991-92 election cycle, when 76 active pro-Israel PACs reported collecting $14,015,509 and donating $4,704,051 to candidates by the end of that cycle. The wide disparity in that previous cycle between collections and contributions prompted a shake-up among the pro-Israel PACs, many of which were spending most of the funds they collected on further fund-raising and on salaries of PAC officers and fund-raisers.

This year's figures indicate that by the end of the current cycle both collections and donations will remain far below the 1992 totals. Traditionally, the pro-Israel PACs collect their funds and make their donations very early in the election cycle. This makes them not only one of the largest but also the most feared among special interest lobbies in America today.

Two other features make pro-Israel PACs unique. One is the deceptive names that mask their pro-Israel agenda. The other is their sheer number. Most special interests have one to three or four PACs. None except the savings-and-loan industry has ever had such a multiplicity of PACs. This enables the Israel lobby to circumvent the federal election law that prevents a PAC from donating more than $10,000 to a single candidate in a single election cycle. Theoretically, the 63 pro-Israel PACs active in the current cycle can put $630,000 into the coffers of a single candidate in a single cycle if they so choose. In fact, as the charts below indicate, they have donated $50,000 or more to six senatorial candidates to date.

Such donations indicate that the recipient has toed the line laid down by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in terms of floor votes, signatures on letters to the president expressing "the sense of Congress," and votes in the key committees that set and protect the level of military and economic aid to Israel. …

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