Rep. Summer Lee

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) speaks at a press conference in support of a Gaza cease-fire on November 13, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)

After Record Grassroots Fundraising Haul, Summer Lee Tells AIPAC to Bring It On

"They have Donald Trump and Nikki Haley's donors, we have the overwhelming power of the people," said the Pennsylvania Democrat.

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee announced Thursday that her reelection campaign brought in over $1 million in mostly small-dollar donations during the final stretch of 2023, a haul that the Pennsylvania Democrat cast as a rebuke to AIPAC and other dark money groups aiming to spend big this year to unseat progressives who have pushed for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

"A Republican-funded super PAC threatened to spend $100 million against us—and our grassroots people-powered movement has responded loud and clear," said Lee, who is running for a second term in Pennsylvania's 12th District.

"I am so proud of the multigenerational, multiracial movement we have built in Western Pennsylvania to protect and expand our democracy—it is our greatest defense against the dark money super PACs and corporate lobbies who seek to undermine it," Lee added. "They have Donald Trump and Nikki Haley's donors, we have the overwhelming power of the people."

Lee's campaign, which has been endorsed by the three top Democrats in the U.S. House, said the last three months of 2023 marked her best-ever fundraising quarter, with 90% of the contributions coming in at less than $250 apiece. Lee has refused to take any corporate PAC money.

News of the progressive "Squad" member's record quarter comes on the heels of reports that AIPAC—the influential pro-Israel lobbying group—and allied groups plan to spend upwards of $100 million to defeat Lee and other progressives who have vocally criticized Israel's assault on Gaza.

Lee was among the 13 original co-sponsors of a cease-fire resolution that Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) introduced in the U.S. House in mid-October.

Even before Israel began its latest war on Gaza following a deadly Hamas-led attack on October 7, AIPAC was working to recruit candidates to challenge Lee in Pennsylvania's 12th District, according toThe Intercept.

Lee is currently facing two Democratic primary challengers for the seat she won in 2022 despite a spending onslaught by AIPAC-aligned groups. The incumbent's fourth-quarter fundraising haul was more than three times larger than that of challenger Bhavini Patel, the Pennsylvania Capital-Starreported.

Lee's campaign noted Thursday that "among the GOP megadonors who gave AIPAC millions to spend against Summer last cycle were Republican billionaire megadonors Bernie Marcus, Jan Koum, and Paul Singer—a man who is best known for giving over $80 million to Republican campaigns and flying Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on private jets to luxury vacations in exchange for preferential rulings for his hedge fund."

AIPAC and affiliated groups have also targeted Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Lee, and Bush with ad spending in recent weeks.

The watchdog OpenSecrets noted last month that the United Democracy Project—a super PAC launched by AIPAC—"spent $31,300 on Google advertising and over $3,000 on Meta political ads" attacking the progressive lawmakers.

On Thursday, AIPAC's political action committee endorsed Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who is challenging Bowman in New York's 16th District. The move marked AIPAC's first non-incumbent endorsement of this election cycle.

"Nothing yells 'qualified Democrat' more than a stamp of approval from this GOP billionaire-funded super PAC which has endorsed 109 insurrectionists," the progressive group Justice Democrats quipped in response to the endorsement, referring to AIPAC's support for Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election.

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