Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

AIPAC Spent $14.5 Million on TV Ads during Iran Deal Debate

AIPAC spent at least $14.5 million on TV ads from mid-July to mid-September in its failed attempt to convince members of Congress to derail the Iran nuclear deal.

LobeLog

In the aftermath of Senate Republicans’ failed efforts to derail the plan agreed on in July to limit Iran’s nuclear program, responsibility has fallen on AIPAC for its inability to persuade a meaningful number of Senate Democrats to join their GOP colleagues in opposing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

To put it bluntly, AIPAC, a group with historically stronger ties to the Democratic Party, failed miserably.

Only four Senators—Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Joe Manchin (D-WV)—broke ranks with their colleagues and minority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) to oppose the nuclear deal. But AIPAC didn’t fail on the cheap. They raised and spent a staggering sum of money in an effort to tilt public opinion against the White House’s signature second-term foreign policy initiative.

This summer, AIPAC announced the formation of a new dark money group, “Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran,” dedicated exclusively to opposing the emerging nuclear deal with Iran. The Jewish Telegraph Agency’s Ron Kampeas reported that the group raised “nearly $30 million.” After a review of over 700 FCC disclosures, helpfully tagged by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation’s “political ad sleuth,” we can confirm that the AIPAC spin-off spent at least $14.5 million on television commercials airing on broadcast television networks (ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS) from mid-July until mid-September. This period coincides with the intensive two-month lobbying period from the announcement of the JCPOA in Vienna to the failure of the Senate resolution of disapproval.

These numbers don’t take into account the cost of ad buys on cable networks and any lag in the Sunlight Foundation’s Political Ad Sleuth’s tagging of relevant FCC filings. But the broad outlines of AIPAC’s well-moneyed opposition to the Iran deal indicate that the pro-Israel group quickly raised a significant amount of money to blanket the airwaves with anti-deal television commercials, dwarfing any efforts by J Street or other pro-deal groups to air competing ads.

That $14.5 million in television ad buys focused heavily on the DC area. Over $3 million was spent on television commercials in Virginia, DC, and Maryland, presumably reaching many of Maryland Senator Ben Cardin’s constituents as well as Hill staffers residing in the broader Beltway region.

AIPAC’s group made the overwhelming majority of the broadcast television ad buys, with smaller anti-deal groups such as United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), Veterans Against the Deal, and the American Security Initiative making only token ad buys during the intense weeks of debate over the summer.

UANI spent approximately $190,000 on ad buys, all in Pennsylvania. Veterans Against the Deal bought approximately $47,000 in ad buys in Montana and Virginia. The American Security Initiative spent approximately $21,000 on ad buys in Oregon.

AIPAC won the money game, almost certainly raising and spending more money than any other group supporting or opposing the JCPOA. But after spending $14 million on broadcast television ad buys (and probably many million more for commercials on cable news networks), and only persuading four Democrats to break ranks with Senate colleagues, AIPAC leadership may face donors asking pointed questions about how their contributions were spent.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Ron Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States and has deep connections to the Republican Party and the neoconservative movement.


The Washington-based American Enterprise Institute is a rightist think tank with a broad mandate covering a range of foreign and domestic policy issues that is known for its strong connections to neoconservatism and overseas debacles like the Iraq War.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Since taking office Donald Trump has revealed an erratic and extremely hawkish approach to U.S. foreign affairs, which has been marked by controversial actions like dropping out of the Iran nuclear agreement that have raised tensions across much of the world and threatened relations with key allies.


Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and an evangelical pastor, is a far-right pundit known for his hawkish policies and opposition to an Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians.


Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is known for her lock-step support for Israel and considered by some to be a future presidential candidate.


Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a leading framer of the “global war on terror” and a staunch supporter of aggressive U.S. military action around the world.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


RightWeb
share