Progressive members of Congress hold a banner demanding a cease-fire

Progressive members of Congress hold a banner demanding a cease-fire in Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip in front of U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on November 8, 2023.

(Photo: Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Fresh Calls to 'Reject AIPAC' After Analysis of GOP Money in Dem Primaries

"George Latimer in New York and Wesley Bell in Missouri are trying to become Democratic members of Congress off millions of dollars of money from rich right-wing Republicans," said one group.

Politicoreported Sunday that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee "the biggest source of Republican money flowing into competitive Democratic primaries this year," sparking new calls for candidates and voters nationwide to #RejectAIPAC.

"If you don't want Republican megadonors to choose your next Democratic congressperson for you, then there's only one option: #RejectAIPAC," Naftali Ehrenkranz, digital director at Get Free, said on social media, pointing to the reporting.

Also noting the "bombshell" report, Yonah Lieberman, co-founder of the Jewish American organization IfNotNow, said that "AIPAC is a GOP front group. Democrats who accept their money or endorsement should be shamed out of the party."

Institute on Race, Power, and Political Economy senior fellow Nina Turner, a former Democratic congressional candidate, declared, "AIPAC is a right-wing group that buys deep blue seats."

Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, drew a comparison to the National Rifle Association, saying, "Imagine how mainstream Democrats would react if the NRA was the single biggest source of Republicans donating into Democratic primaries."

Support for or criticism of the Israeli government has become a defining issue in this election cycle over the past eight months, as Israel has waged a war on the Gaza Strip that has led to a genocide case at the International Court of Justice. AIPAC, which supports pro-Israel Democratic and Republican candidates, has targeted progressives who oppose the military assault.

"We are proud to engage in the democratic process in a bipartisan way to help elect candidates who support the U.S.-Israel relationship," AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann said in a statement. "Candidates from both parties should welcome the engagement of pro-Israel activists because Americans overwhelmingly stand with the Jewish state. In fact, those who object to our participation only represent a small, extremist fringe."

Gallup polling released in March shows that 55% of Americans disapprove of Israeli military actions in Gaza—which as of Sunday, have killed over 37,000 people, according to local officials. A Pew Research Center survey published last week found that 53% of U.S. adults have little to no confidence that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will "do the right thing regarding world affairs."

Politico put out the findings from its analysis—which is based on a review of Federal Election Commission filings from AIPAC, the ActBlue and WinRed donation platforms, and individual campaigns—a day after thousands of American critics of Israel's war and U.S. complicity in it descended on the White House while Israeli forces slaughtered hundreds more Palestinians.

According to the outlet:

Only about 2% of this cycle's donors to Democratic candidates or through the Democratic giving platform ActBlue have also given to Republicans over the past few cycles, Politico's analysis found. But 46% of donors who have given to Democratic candidates via AIPAC this cycle have given to Republicans since the 2020 cycle.

For Republican donors, giving to Democratic candidates in primaries helps ensure more moderate, pro-Israel candidates win in deep-blue seats where the general election is all but certain to be uncompetitive, and financial support for GOP candidates would be a waste.

The top recipient of AIPAC money—at least $1.61 million—is Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who launched his challenge to Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman in New York's 16th Congressional District after visiting Israel.

Responding to the report on social media Sunday, Bowman—who has called Israel's assault on Gaza genocide—said that "Republicans are setting records spending against us. And we're going to break records beating them."

Politico pointed out that "competitive Democratic primaries are also the biggest targets for AIPAC's affiliated super PAC, United Democracy Project, which has already spent $19.8 million in them this year, including $9.3 million in the Bowman-Latimer race. That makes it by far the biggest outside group in Democratic primaries, with more money flowing from UDP than the next 10 biggest spenders combined. (The super PAC has also spent in a handful of GOP primaries, dropping $3 million total.)"

The New York arm of the Working Families Party, which is backing Bowman in the June 25 primary, shared Politico's graph of top AIPAC beneficiaries and stressed that "we must be united in rejecting AIPAC's efforts to subvert our democracy."

After Bowman and two incumbents is St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, at $869,300. He is trying to oust another progressive "Squad" member, Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush, in the August 6 primary for Missouri's 1st District.

"My opponent Wesley Bell is among AIPAC's TOP 4 recipients this cycle—and is gladly taking money from anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-labor, pro-NRA Republicans who expect his loyalty in return above all else," Bush said on social media. "We deserve better. #StLouisIsNotForSale."

Fellow "Squad" member Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also weighed in, saying, "Hmm it's almost like AIPAC functions as a political slush fund for Republican billionaires and should not have influence in the Democratic Party, let alone our primaries."

People for Bernie—which was initially launched in support of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) 2016 Democratic presidential campaign—said, "Simply put: George Latimer in New York and Wesley Bell in Missouri are trying to become Democratic members of Congress off millions of dollars of money from rich right-wing Republicans."

Justice Democrats, which worked to elect Bowman, Bush, and Ocasio-Cortez, asserted that reelecting the New York and Missouri progressives "is a vote to #RejectAIPAC and Republican donors spending in our elections."

The group also noted Republican President Donald Trump, who is expected to face Democratic President Joe Biden in November. Justice Democrats said, "Now that it's undeniable that AIPAC is *the* vehicle for Republican billionaires to spend in Democratic primaries, you have to ask what type of candidates would be willing to be bought and paid for by Trump donors?"

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