AIPAC launches two PACs, joining political campaign finance arena for the first time

For the first time in its existence, AIPAC plans to financially support the campaigns of outgoing and pro-Israel candidates by forming two political action committees.

AIPAC President Betsy Berns Korn announced the creation of the two PACs on Thursday, saying the current political environment requires change.

“Throughout the history of AIPAC, the Board has constantly adjusted our political strategy to ensure that we can continue to be successful in an ever-changing Washington. DC’s political environment has undergone profound changes. Hyperpartisanship, high congressional turnover and exponential growth in the cost of campaigns now dominate the landscape, ”Korn wrote in a letter. “As such, the board of directors decided to introduce these two new tools. AIPAC PAC will spotlight and support current pro-Israel Democratic and Republican members of Congress, as well as Congressional candidates. “

Contrary to what many of its detractors think, AIPAC has not directly funded political candidates and campaigns in its 70 year history, with the “PAC” in its name instead of the Public Affairs Committee. . Rather, it organizes its members to lobby for pro-Israel legislation.

His PAC will be a federal political action committee that will allow him to pay a total of $ 5,000 to a candidate or his campaign committee per election. The super PAC, which has yet to be named, can spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose federal election candidates but cannot donate directly or coordinate with candidates or parties.

According to an AIPAC official who agreed to speak without attribution, the PAC will be headed by Marilyn Rosenthal, while the Super PAC will be headed by Rob Bassin.

The creation of PACs is part of several new AIPAC initiatives launched over the past two years, including an increased social media presence, a digital initiative and an upcoming AIPAC app.

The official said that so far the initiatives have dramatically increased the membership of AIPAC to over 1.5 million members.

“The creation of a PAC and a Super PAC is an opportunity to significantly deepen the involvement of the pro-Israel community in politics,” AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told JNS in an email. “PACs will operate in a bipartisan fashion. “

“An important opportunity to play an active role in American political life”

Steve Grossman, CEO of Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, who served as president of AIPAC from 1992 to 1996, is a life member of the board of directors and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said he supported the passage of AIPAC in this political climate.

“Having seen the changes and developments in US politics over the past dozen years, I support what AIPAC has done as it will give the organization and its members an even greater opportunity to play. an active role in American political life. life at a time when this is essential, ”he said. “As we have become so polarized and politics has become so vitriolic, I think you have to constantly develop new approaches, new tools and techniques. “

The strength of AIPAC, he said, lies in the grassroots organization it has led on behalf of causes beneficial to the security of the United States and Israel.

The members, he said, were “citizen activists”. One of the most powerful tools, he noted, has been the National Lobbying Day in which members descended on the United States Capitol once a year to support legislation commensurate with their mission, their vision and values. These include believing in a strong US-Israel relationship as “being at the heart of democracy” and the heart of US security, Grossman said.

Yet the effect of AIPAC on federal races came from individuals who competed strongly for a candidate organizing themselves locally and helping to raise funds on behalf of that candidate by themselves.

Given the explosion of money in politics, which Grossman says is not healthy, this move was necessary.

“You can’t put your head in the sand and pretend that this isn’t happening,” he said. “I mean, it’s a way to be more competitive, more active, more energetic and more impactful.”

Grossman said the pro-Israel cause has always had strong support from Democrats and Republicans. Even though there were still a few outliers, it was practically a consensus, he said.

“Unfortunately, even the pro-Israel cause has become a battleground,” he admitted. “So how can we have a meaningful impact and continue to support things that we believe are central to our values, as well as the health and well-being of the State of Israel and the United States? As Americans, this is what we are working on all the time to protect, preserve, and improve.

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