Pro-Israel PAC Contributions May Be Too Public for the Lobby's Taste

By McMahon, Janet | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 2017 | Go to article overview

Pro-Israel PAC Contributions May Be Too Public for the Lobby's Taste


McMahon, Janet, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


"[W]ith continuing talk about campaign finance reform, including support by Senate Republicans for abolishing PACs altogether, there was a conscious effort by AIPAC-affiliated PACs to lower their profiles.

"AIPAC leaders have boasted for years that for every dollar donated by their chain of PACs, at least one additional dollar reaches AIPAC-endorsed candidates via direct donations from individual AIPAC or pro-Israel PAC members....In the 1994 cycle, the pro- Israel PACs devoted greater efforts than ever before to generating such individual donations in order to avoid exposure by public-interest election monitors like this magazine."

-Richard H. Curtiss, "Sharp Dip in Pro-Israel PAC Donations Reflects Drop in 1994 PAC Revenues," April/May 1995 Washington Report, p. 27.

More than two decades ago, Washington Report executive editor Richard H. Curtiss noted a drop in donations to pro-Israel PACs. Because it was the early post-Oslo days, he pointed out, many American Jews either may have thought peace was at hand or opposed any possible agreement, leading to a decline in donations from both camps. But one cannot ignore the "nightflower" analogy, whereby the pro-Israel lobby "shrivels up" in the light of day, in the form of the Federal Election Commission's required public reports, available to all.

In an article in the Nov. 5, 2014 Forward, Nathan Guttman elaborated: "pro-Israel PAC money is a drop in the bucket of Jewish giving to political candidates, especially since the Supreme Court's 2010 decision known as Citizens United came about, opening the floodgates for unlimited independent expenditures by corporations and individuals on behalf of candidates." Guttman went on to quote Washington PAC head Morris Amitay as saying, "It's not about the PACs. It all takes place at the private events. That's where they raise the real money."

For the 2016 election cycle, the Center for Responsive Politics (

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