Israeli Media: AIPAC to begin officially fundraising for politicians
AIPAC establishes official political action groups in order to fundraise for bipartisan candidates to further increase its involvement in US politics.
The American "Israel" Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) launched on Thursday a political action committee (PAC), which will funnel maximum donations of $5,000 to designated candidates per race, and a super PAC, which can raise unlimited money for a candidate. The regular PAC will be named AIPAC PAC, while the super PAC has not yet been named, according to The Times of "Israel".
The PAC in AIPAC doesn't stand for political action committee but for Public Affairs Committee.
The establishment of these two PACs will offer AIPAC an opportunity to further strengthen the involvement of the Israeli lobby in US politics, according to its spokesperson Marshall Wittmann, who added that “the PACs will work in a bipartisan way.”
One function of the PACs could be born from AIPAC's need to counter an impression that it is biased to Republicans, doing so by favoring Democrats close to the lobby, or launching bipartisan initiative.
This means change for the lobby that ever since its establishment has cultivated an image of being above domestic political issues. Its involvement will signal a more active role in US politics, albeit still geared toward anything perceived as damaging to Israeli interests.
This notwithstanding, AIPAC has become more combative on the domestic front in recent years, as progressive Democrats have grown more vocal in their criticism against the Israeli occupation. Two presidential candidates, Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, boycotted AIPAC’s annual policy conference in 2020.
AIPAC has also targeted critics of "Israel" in their online advertising, such as Representatives Ilhan Omar and Betty McCollum of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, not to mention Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican who consistently takes stances against assistance to the Israeli occupation.
AIPAC in a polarized environment
Announcing the new PACs, AIPAC made it clear that it could no longer maintain its façade of politesse in the polarized environment of the US political landscape, meaning that it will also grow more aggressive in its approach.
“The DC political environment has been undergoing profound change,” the statement said. “Hyperpartisanship, high congressional turnover and the exponential growth in the cost of campaigns now dominate the landscape.”
AIPAC's importance is not restricted to its role as one of the US' most powerful lobbying groups. There have been several incidents linking AIPAC's great influence to aid given to the Israeli occupation. AIPAC's former President David Steiner had boasted about his influence over the Clinton and Bush administration, going so far as to say that he was negotiating with then-President Clinton over who to appoint as Secretary of State, or securing $3 billion in aid for "Israel" during the Bush administration.
Some AIPAC members have previously been indicted for passing on classified information from the US to "Israel".
Understanding AIPAC's influence
As one former Congressman, Brian Baird, explained, when things were being voted on in Congress, "the question on the House floor, troublingly, is often not, 'What is the right thing to do for the United States of America?', but 'How is AIPAC going to score this?'"
According to an article from the New Yorker, dating back to 2014: "AIPAC has more than a hundred thousand members, a network of seventeen regional offices, and a vast pool of donors. The lobby does not raise funds directly. Its members do, and the amount of money they channel to political candidates is difficult to track. But everybody in Congress recognizes its influence in elections, and the effect is evident."
A shining example of AIPAC's influence could be seen in a unique event in 2011, when the Palestinians announced that they would petition the UN for statehood, AIPAC helped persuade four hundred and forty-six members of Congress to co-sponsor resolutions opposing the idea.