Right Web

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

Did AIPAC Pocket Its Iran Deal Fundraising Revenue?

From all outward appearances, AIPAC’s fundraising arm effectively pocketed the boost in fundraising revenue it enjoyed during the heated battle over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Lobelog

Last year, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) led the charge against the Obama administration’s efforts to reach a diplomatic resolution to concerns about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Indeed, in many ways, AIPAC became the face of the opposition to Obama’s signature second-term foreign policy initiative. AIPAC committed to spending $20-40 million in television commercials opposing the deal and threw its considerable lobbying weight against the agreement. In a dangerous gambit, it broke with longstanding tradition and participated in what looked increasingly like partisan opposition to the White House’s diplomacy.

As a result, AIPAC suffered a debilitating loss, severely undermining its ability to influence Democratic members of Congress. But AIPAC may have won in another, less publicized, manner: fundraising. Last year, the country’s biggest pro-Israel group set a record for fundraising. AIPAC’s charitable arm, the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which typically attracts the biggest donations and offers donors a tax deduction, raised over $80 million, nearly $27 million more than the previous tax year, according to financial disclosures reviewed by LobeLog.

The AIEF’s 2015 tax year ended on September 30, 2015, 20 days after the anti-deal campaign effectively failed when Senate Democrats filibustered a resolution opposing the nuclear agreement. Even though the group spent the year fundraising for the campaign to oppose the White House’s nuclear diplomacy, the AIEF spent only $705,718 more in 2015 than in the past year. The AIEF ended that tax year with a budget surplus of $31.5 million, $26.5 million more than the previous year’s surplus. The group padded their savings in the bank by an additional $30 million.

In other words, from all outward appearances, AIPAC’s fundraising arm effectively pocketed the boost in fundraising revenue enjoyed during the heated battle over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

That doesn’t mean that additional funds weren’t raised and deployed in the public relations battle that took place in 2015. The AIPAC spin-off group Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran (CFNI), led by Joe Lieberman, raised “nearly $30 million,” according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency’s Ron Kampeas. In a review of FCC filings at the end of September 2015, LobeLog identified at least $14.5 million spent on television commercials.

Neither CFNI nor AIPAC has yet disclosed its 2015 tax filings. AIPAC did not respond to a request for comment.

Even before the new financial disclosures showed the AIEF appearing to pocket the increase in fundraising, at least one former AIPAC official acknowledged that AIPAC might be using the Iran nuclear agreement as a fundraising tool. In July 2015, a “former AIPAC officials” told Chris Nelson, author of the private daily newsletter The Nelson Report, which is widely read by DC insiders, that fundraising was a major reason behind the group’s opposition to the nuclear deal. The unnamed official told him:

Chris, here’s 5 reasons why AIPAC thinks it’s right on Iran (i.e., to keep targeting Iran)

  1. Iran has been the group’s raison d’être for 2 decades and it doesn’t know what else to do; its troops are trained to attack Iran and the lobby can’t afford to admit failure lest it lose supporters.
  2. Iran has been an enormously lucrative fundraiser for AIPAC; just look at what they’re spending on this campaign alone.  It needs to keep the issue alive for institutional imperatives.
  3. Until this agreement was signed, AIPAC never had any competition. Everyone wanted to bash Iran. (It’s today’s replacement for the Soviet Union, Apartheid South Africa and Qadaffi.) Even with this agreement, Iran will continue to act in ways that make it an inviting target.  The Ayatollahs aren’t smart enough to stop chanting Death to America and stop threatening to wipe Israel off the map, practices which are a boon to AIPAC.
  4. Without this cause AIPAC and this Israeli government as well as their Republican allies may have to focus on more critical issue, like peace with the Palestinians.
  5. So Iran-bashing’s what Bibi and their big givers want…

And, in early September 2015, former AIPAC lobbyist Steve Rosen told Nathan Guttman at The Forward that AIPAC’s failure to mobilize Hill Democrats to oppose the deal was “a very bad moment for AIPAC.”

Rosen asked, “Where is the lobbying machine? What did all that money buy?”

For the AIEF, it appears that the boost in fundraising revenue went to padding the group’s end-of-year bank statement by nearly $30 million.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Update was slow, but still no lag in the editor window, and footnotes are intact.     This has been updated – Bernard Lewis, who passed away in May 2018, was a renowned British-American historian of Islam and the Middle East. A former British intelligence officer, Foreign Office staffer, and Princeton University professor, Lewis was…


Bernard Lewis was a renowned historian of Islam and the Middle East who stirred controversy with his often chauvinistic attitude towards the Muslim world and his associations with high-profile neoconservatives and foreign policy hawks.


John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, is President Trump’s National Security Adviser McMaster, reflecting a sharp move to the hawkish extreme by the administration.


Michael Joyce, who passed away in 2006, was once described by neoconservative guru Irving Kristol as the “godfather of modern philanthropy.”


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


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.”


Michael Flynn is a former Trump administration National Security Advisor who was forced to step down only weeks on the job because of his controversial contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


In many ways, Donald Trump’s bellicosity, his militarism, his hectoring cant about American exceptionalism and national greatness, his bullying of allies—all of it makes him not an opponent of neoconservatism but its apotheosis. Trump is a logical culmination of the Bush era as consolidated by Obama.


For the past few decades the vast majority of private security companies like Blackwater and DynCorp operating internationally have come from a relatively small number of countries: the United States, Great Britain and other European countries, and Russia. But that seeming monopoly is opening up to new players, like DeWe Group, China Security and Protection Group, and Huaxin Zhongan Group. What they all have in common is that they are from China.


The Trump administration’s massive sales of tanks, helicopters, and fighter aircraft are indeed a grim wonder of the modern world and never receive the attention they truly deserve. However, a potentially deadlier aspect of the U.S. weapons trade receives even less attention than the sale of big-ticket items: the export of firearms, ammunition, and related equipment.


Soon after a Saudi-led coalition strike on a bus killed 40 children on August 9, a CENTCOM spokesperson stated to Vox, “We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the U.S. sold to them.”


The West has dominated the post-war narrative with its doctrine of liberal values, arguing that not only were they right in themselves but that economic success itself depended on their application. Two developments have challenged those claims. The first was the West’s own betrayal of its principles: on too many occasions the self interest of the powerful, and disdain for the victims of collateral damage, has showed through. The second dates from more recently: the growth of Chinese capitalism owes nothing to a democratic system of government, let alone liberal values.


RightWeb
share