Who’s Funding AIPAC’s Political Spending Barrage?

Posted by: John Phoenix
Who’s Funding AIPAC’s Political Spending Barrage?

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) speaks during a news conference on the situation in the Palestinian city of Rafah outside the U.S. Capitol on February 29, 2024 in Washington, DC. (photo)

This year AIPAC is planning to spend a $100 million to support pro-Israel candidates and defeat those who’ve questioned Israel’s killing of over 35,000 people in Gaza.

Here are the tech industry founders, Republican megadonors, and others funding AIPAC and its closely-tied allies this election cycle.

by Donald Shaw, David Moore, reposted from Sludge, Mar 4, 2024

For decades after its founding in the 1950s, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, declined to spend money directly on elections. But that has changed dramatically in recent years, and this year the group is planning to spend a massive amount of money to support pro-Israel candidates and defeat those who have questioned the Israeli military’s killing of more than 35,000 people in Gaza following the deadly October 7 Hamas attacks.

Politico and other outlets have reported that it is prepared to spend $100 million on ads and other political advocacy efforts ahead of the November elections to defeat progressive Democratic candidates.

Already, the group and its closely-tied allies and affiliates have spent about $30 million in the 2024 cycle, with the bulk of the spending coming from AIPAC PAC, which operates as a conduit for AIPAC supporters to earmark funds to candidates’ campaigns.

AIPAC’s super PAC, the United Democracy Project (UDP), has been spending millions on a California Democratic primary recently and is sitting on nearly $42 million in cash. An allied super PAC called Democratic Majority for Israel PAC (DMFI PAC) has been spending on pro-President Biden text messages and has nearly $3 million on hand.

DMFI PAC, which functioned as AIPAC’s primary outside spending operation until it founded its own super PAC in January 2022, is run by former AIPAC consultant Mark Mellman, and AIPAC has allowed its supporters to credit their contributions to DMFI towards their AIPAC contributions. The millions of dollars in outside spending unleashed by DMFI PAC in Democratic primaries in the 2022 cycle was widely seen as working in parallel with AIPAC’s electoral aims.

The largest donor has been Jan Koum, the billionaire founder of WhatsApp, and the largest donor to the pro-Nikki Haley super PAC SFA Fund. Koum donated a total of $5 million to UDP in September and October of last year.

Another large donor, David Zalik, has also been a Haley supporter. Zalik donated more than $80,000 to Haley’s campaign, super PAC, and joint fundraising committee last year, according to FEC records. He has also donated this year to the campaigns of Texas Republicans Rep. Mike McCaul and Sen. Ted Cruz. Zalik, the founder of Goldman Sachs affiliate GreenSky, earmarked $453,800 in political contributions through AIPAC PAC this cycle to dozens of Democratic and Republican candidates and donated $2 million to UDP. His spouse, Helen, also made $453,800 in contributions through AIPAC PAC.

Sludge analyzed the groups’ Federal Election Commission filings to reveal the top donors to AIPAC and its closely-tied political spending groups so far this election cycle. The chart below totals money donated to AIPAC PAC, DMFI PAC, and UDP from January 1, 2023 through January 31, 2024.

Donald Shaw is a Co-Founder and Editor at Sludge Media.
David Moore is a Co-founder at Sludge Media.



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