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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and two-time failed presidential candidate, is a foreign policy hawk with neoconservative leanings who appears set to become the next senator from Utah.


Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.


Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


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.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


RightWeb
share