Pro-Israel giant PAC donors raise concerns for US progressives

Pro-Israel giant PAC donors raise concerns for US progressives
The Congressional Progressive Caucus is considering not allowing its members to accept money from big PAC, which would include the Democratic Majority for Israel and other pro-Israel lobby groups.
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
05 May, 2022
Big PAC donations, including from a pro-Israel group, are being scrutinised by progressives. [Getty]

This week, Representative Pramila Jayapal, head of the US Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that in recent meetings with other members, they had discussed changing the rules for endorsements from giant PAC money, which would include the Democratic Majority for Israel.

She said they were looking at seeing if they "need to have some kind of a change in endorsement based on whether somebody accepts this kind of giant PAC money, whether it’s from the crypto billionaires or whether it's from DMFI [Democratic Majority for Israel]," according to a report Monday by Punchbowl.

This statement came in the context of this week's congressional race in Ohio between incumbent Shontel Brown, who received around $US 1 million in DMFI donations and advertising and won the election (and $US 2 million in the previous election) and was also supported by conservative heavyweight AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), and progressive challenger Nina Turner, who did not receive big PAC donations.

The discrepancy in their donations was highlighted in their first primary election last year when many gave credit to the DMFI for helping push Brown over the top in a tight race that she won 50.2 to 44.5 per cent, while this time she won by a much wider margin of 27 per cent.

Live Story

DMFI president Mark Mellman responded to the news of Jayapal's statement by warning the CPC they could be engaging in discriminatory policies if they changed their endorsement rules to exclude representatives and candidates who accept donations from DMFI.

"Reforming our campaign finance system as a whole is a laudable goal," Mellman told Jewish Insider on Tuesday, the day of the Ohio primary between Brown and Turner.

"But I don't think the progressive caucus is going to want to allow endorsees to 'accept' anti-Israel money, but then turn around and discriminate against pro-Israel Democratic money, especially since they'd be repudiating a core element of the Democratic platform and the Biden-Harris agenda, which is support for a strong US-Israel relationship," Mellman added. 

Live Story

The tension between some progressive lawmakers and the pro-Israeli PAC appears to highlight a rift between progressives and moderates over Israel in the Democratic party, a growing trend that led to the establishment of the group.

The DMFI was established in 2019 by Democratic strategists in response to polling showing that young people were less likely to support Israel than previous generations.

According to their website, "DMFI PAC works to elect pro-Israel Democrats to Congress and defeat those few anti-Israel Democrats in primaries."