Regular readers of DWT already know this but early this morning Robert Reich confirmed what we already know, namely that AIPAC is no longer promoting Israel or battling antisemitism. It's using Republican dollars to battle progressives. If anything, AIPAC is now stirring up anti-Semitism in America. Reich began by recapping AIPAC’s big win against Donna Edwards, buying— by saturating television and radio with scurrilous ads “questioning her willingness to perform basic services for her constituents and to make the kinds of compromises necessary for legislative success”— the Democratic Party nomination for a run-of-the-mill corrupt lobbyist and AIPAC sock-puppet.
“Where” asked Reich, “did the money for those ads come from?” Along with the even shadier Democratic Majority for Israel, AIPAC spent a staggering $7 million defaming Edwards and boosting the sock-puppet. Both AIPAC and DMFI get their money from conservatives, primarily Republican conservatives eager to screw with Democratic primaries. AIPAC has also been rumored to be illegally taking money from right-wing Israeli sources as well. Much of the anti-progressive jihad mounted this cycle— both by the Israel lobby and the crypto-billionaires— is being coordinated and directed, from behind the curtain, by AIPAC and Wall Street pawn Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), whose puppet-masters have decided to install him as leader of the congressional Democratic Party by using fear and intimidation against easily intimidated and always fearful Democratic congressional caucus. Not even progressives are standing up for their colleagues, who are being picked off one by one. The Pocan-controlled Progressive Caucus PAC didn’t lifted a finger to protect their members being smeared by AIPAC and Hakeem Jeffries’ malfeasance coalition— no help for Marie Newman, no help for Andy Levin, no help for Rashida Tlaib, no help for Cori Bush. Why would any new progressive join the CPC at this point? The Blue Dogs and New Dems stand up for their members and fight for them. The CPC? What a joke!
What did Edwards do to deserve this degree of AIPAC enmity? Could it have been because she was an early supporter of a nuclear deal between Iran and five industrial countries, including the United States? Probably not, because that hardly distinguished her from most other Democrats. Besides, the Obama administration supported the deal. Was it because Edwards took a number of votes that expressed support for Palestinian rights and the resumption of a meaningful peace process? These were hardly outside of the mainstream.
So what was it? Dig deeper.
Remember, AIPAC never used to endorse candidates. Until this election cycle, it didn’t even have a super PAC. But it’s on the way to spending nearly $20 million in the 2022 Democratic primaries alone. That makes it the single most influential political group in Democratic electoral politics. And what’s the criterion for whom AIPAC supports in Democratic primaries?
If AIPAC were simply aiming to promote Israel or deter antisemitism, presumably it would be as active in Republican primaries as it is in Democratic ones. But it has barely spent a dime in Republican primaries— not even against Republican candidates who have been widely criticized for antisemitic comments. And its United Democracy Project super-PAC hasn’t spent a penny.
AIPAC hasn’t supported a Republican primary challenger to Marjorie Taylor Greene (who claimed that Jewish space lasers were behind California’s 2018 wildfires), for example. But AIPAC has endorsed Republican Scott Perry, who compared Democrats to Nazis.
The real criterion for AIPAC’s support or enmity in Democratic primaries seems to have more to do with which candidate is friendlier toward America’s moneyed interests and the Republican agenda. When Edwards was last a member of Congress, she backed single-payer health care and was one of the early champions of sweeping campaign finance reforms. Both irked big money. In the pending race between Haley Stevens and Andy Levin in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, AIPAC is supporting Stevens (who has a history of fighting worker protections) against Levin (who is a labor champion).
AIPAC is on the way to becoming a Republican front group. Much of AIPAC’s trove is coming from Republican donors. In May, Republican billionaires Paul Singer and Bernie Marcus donated $1 million each to AIPAC’s super PAC. Marcus famously gave $7 million to President Trump’s campaign in 2016.
So far in this election cycle, AIPAC has endorsed over 100 Republican candidates who refused to certify the 2020 election results.
What to do about this?
First, Democrats must stop allowing AIPAC to be a Democratic kingmaker. The Democratic leadership in Congress must openly criticize AIPAC’s role in Democratic primaries. Democratic candidates should cease taking money from AIPAC in primaries and condemn candidates who do.
Second, all of us need to get behind campaign finance reforms that prevent big money from whatever source from corrupting our elections. Such reforms are possible notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s horrific Citizens United decision. The House has already passed legislation that would encourage small-dollar donations by matching them dollar-for-dollar with public financing. Like most other reforms, it’s been stalled in the Senate. We must elect Democrats to the Senate who will pass this.
When Alan Grayson was last serving in Congress he introduced a series of bills meant to prevent a corporate takeover of government in America. He is current website says that his “‘Save Our Democracy’ Platform aims to stave off the threat of ‘corpocracy.’ Each of the bills is clear and concise; none is longer than four pages… The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission is the worst Supreme Court ruling in more than a century. It opened the door to political bribery and corruption on the largest scale imaginable. Corporations, foreign-owned businesses and foreign governments will be allowed to spend unlimited amounts of cash on propaganda to influence the outcomes of our elections. We cannot put the law up for sale, and award our government to the highest bidder.” For example, he wrote and introduced H.R. 4431— the Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act— to implement a “500% excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees, and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns, and H.R. 4435— his Public Company Responsibility Act— “prevents companies making political contributions and expenditures from trading their stock on national exchanges.”
I was talking with House candidate Jason Call today. And he reiterated that campaign finance reform remains one of the top priorities for his campaign. “Getting corporate money out of politics is essential to democracy,” he told me. “The end goal should be a publicly funded elections system. It’s been disappointing that the Progressive Caucus hasn’t been more focused on this, but I guess it’s hard to do that when half of their membership is well funded by corporate PACs. In particular, my race will be impacted by corporate money, as we have seen in the recent FEC filings, Rick Larsen continues to take over 60% of his money from PACs, and among his individual donors 40% of them are corporate executives and lobbyists. The public is aware of the corruption of corporate money but often they don’t know the extent because progressive challengers don’t focus on it in a detailed and explicit way, drawing direct lines from funding to policy positions and voting record. I’d like to encourage folks to read the opposition research documents we have prepared on Rick Larsen, all taken from FEC filings, the congressional record, and newspapers. If everyone took the time to emulate this, the public would be better informed moving forward.”
"We can not fix a broken system if those in charge continue to profit from it," San Bernardino County progressive Derek Marshall told me this afternoon. "We must end Citizens United, get big money out of politics, and focus on grassroots organizing in our communities if we want to start seeing the appropriate changes. My campaign doesn't take a cent of corporate money, unlike my opponent, because I know when I get to Washington, I will be holding corporations and the wealthy accountable."
Like Jason, and Alan, Mark Neumann’s Wisconsin primary is next month. Derek already had his primary and won and is now facing a Republican incumbent. (You can help all 4 of them of them win here.) Mark told me he thinks that “campaign finance reform is absolutely critical to the preservation of democracy. Well run and responsible electoral campaigns share the mission of preparing the electorate to do their job at the ballot box. Justice Louis Brandeis said in the 1930s that the highest office of a democracy is that of the private citizen. It is the job of campaigns to serve that high office so that voters will be well prepared to vote well. It is important that every citizen’s vote is counted and it is equally important that every vote count because it is well prepared. Campaigns are a public good to serve the electorate (not manipulate the electorate as they are currently treated by the rich and powerful.) As a public good, well run and responsible campaigns should be publicly funded. The idea of depending on only individual contributions with matching public funds (or multiples of matching public funds) makes sense to me. Exclude all special interest, union, corporation and dark money from campaign contributions. Limit candidate self funding as well. We the people need our voice to be heard. It might also work to give every citizen a voucher for every race that they can distribute to their preferred candidate in the race. This would draw the candidates to go with hat in hand to the voters instead of going with hat in hand (and promises) to the rich and powerful.”