Pro-Israel Campaign Donations

Reference: Center for Responsive Politics

Background

A nationwide network of local political action committees — generally named after the region their donors come from — supplies much of the pro-Israel money in American politics. Additional funds also come from individuals who bundle contributions to candidates favored by the PACs. Among these donors’ other goals: To support Israel in its ongoing negotiations (and political and armed conflicts) with its Arab neighbors.

The pro-Israel lobby also work to build stronger U.S.-Israel relations and to support Israel economically. The financial relationship between the United States and Israel has become increasingly integrated since the 1985 Free Trade Agreement, the first FTA ever signed by the United States.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the United States’ most powerful pro-Israel political group, is not a political action committee and does not make campaign contributions. But pro-Israel entities spent $3,235,486 on lobbying for pro- in 2008, and AIPAC accounted for nearly $2.5 million of that amount.

More money was contributed from pro-Israel groups to federal campaigns in the 2008 election cycle than in any year prior. The total amount of campaign contributions nearly doubled between the 2004 to 2006 election cycles – reaching almost $11 million. In 2006, Israel entered into a conflict with Lebanon, for which the United States supplied additional financial and military aid.

About $8.6 million, or 63 percent, of the funds supplied by pro-Israel groups as federal campaign contributions in the 2008 election cycle went to Democrats, and about 37 percent to Republicans.

The political action committees JStreetPAC and NorPAC contributed the most pro-Israel money to federal campaigns in the 2008 election cycle, to the tune of more than $370,000 each. For JStreetPac, 99 percent of its campaign contribution funds went to Democratic lawmakers.

— Michelle Minkoff (updated December 2009)

Top Contributors, 2011-2012

Contributor Amount
JStreetPAC   $1,413,667
NorPAC   $897,901
Center for Middle East Peace/Econ Coop   $341,765
National Action Cmte   $331,050
Joint Action Cmte for Political Affairs   $237,631
Citizens Organized PAC   $216,000
Northern Californians for Good Govt   $180,500
Republican Jewish Coalition   $167,170
Florida Congressional Cmte   $150,331
American Principles   $148,022
Desert Caucus   $125,000
National PAC   $104,000
To Protect Our Heritage PAC   $100,200
Washington PAC   $98,600
SunPAC   $97,550
World Alliance for Israel   $97,000
Maryland Assn for Concerned Citizens   $91,500
Bi-County PAC   $78,000
Louisiana for American Security   $65,500
Grand Canyon State Caucus   $58,500

Top 20 Recipients, 2012

Rank Candidate Office Amount
1 Romney, Mitt (R) $905,593
2 Obama, Barack (D) $805,731
3 Berkley, Shelley (D-NV) House $526,174
4 Menendez, Robert (D-NJ) Senate $341,170
5 Mandel, Josh (R-OH) $274,050
6 Brown, Sherrod (D-OH) Senate $272,051
7 Kaine, Tim (D-VA) $245,820
8 Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R-FL) House $238,685
9 Nelson, Bill (D-FL) Senate $228,450
10 Berman, Howard L (D-CA) House $221,470
11 Cardin, Ben (D-MD) Senate $219,293
12 Cantor, Eric (R-VA) House $211,810
13 McCaskill, Claire (D-MO) Senate $207,871
14 Hasner, Adam (R-FL) $200,056
15 Rothman, Steven R (D-NJ) House $187,410
16 Lingle, Linda (R-HI) $185,500
17 Baldwin, Tammy (D-WI) House $172,380
18 Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI) Senate $167,852
19 Schneider, Brad (D-IL) $161,784
20 Heinrich, Martin (D-NM) House $158,373

Long-term Trends 1990-2014

Election Cycle Rank† Total Contributions Contributions from Individuals Contributions from PACs Soft/Outside Money Donations to Democrats Donations to Republicans % to Dems % to Repubs
2014 64 $239,170 $110,425 $128,745 $0 $166,595 $72,575 70% 30%
2012 48 $15,440,762 $12,325,896 $2,970,989 $143,877 $9,177,763 $6,064,622 60% 40%
2010 36 $13,410,515 $10,071,535 $3,186,980 $152,000 $8,417,574 $4,653,526 64% 36%
2008 65 $4,182,315 $788,036 $3,394,279 $0 $2,333,216 $1,846,599 56% 44%
2006 37 $11,112,867 $7,905,874 $3,173,993 $33,000 $5,841,578 $4,047,849 59% 41%
2004 39 $11,266,234 $7,944,240 $3,311,994 $10,000 $7,283,123 $3,982,111 65% 35%
2002 43 $8,918,300 $4,574,299 $2,894,001 $1,450,000 $6,549,576 $2,365,724 73% 27%
2000 55 $7,038,216 $4,620,812 $1,932,904 $484,500 $4,762,633 $2,272,583 68% 32%
1998 43 $6,010,998 $3,785,917 $2,104,331 $120,750 $3,931,568 $2,079,430 65% 35%
1996 46 $5,575,881 $3,177,726 $2,387,880 $10,275 $3,500,337 $2,075,544 63% 37%
1994 30 $5,915,688 $3,327,629 $2,378,059 $210,000 $4,596,692 $1,314,346 78% 22%
1992 17 $8,748,303 $4,675,323 $4,048,960 $24,020 $6,327,061 $2,417,430 72% 28%
1990 12 $7,994,040 $3,894,792 $4,099,248 $0 $5,784,623 $2,209,417 72% 28%
Total 44 $105,853,289 $67,202,504 $36,012,363 $2,638,422 $68,672,339 $35,401,756 66% 34%

METHODOLOGY: The numbers on this page are based on contributions of $200 or more from PACs and individuals to federal candidates and from PACs, soft money (including directly from corporate and union treasuries) and individual donors to political parties and outside spending groups, as reported to the Federal Election Commission. Donations to Democrats, Donations to Republicans, and the associated percentages are based solely on contributions to candidates and parties. Independent expenditures and electioneering communications are not reflected in the breakdown by party. While election cycles are shown in charts as 1996, 1998, 2000 etc. they actually represent two-year periods. For example, the 2002 election cycle runs from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2002.

Data for the current election cycle were released by the Federal Election Commission on Monday, March 25, 2013.

NOTE: Soft money contributions to the national parties were not publicly disclosed until the 1991-92 election cycle, and were banned by the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act following the 2002 elections. Contributions to Outside Spending groups legalized by the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision are listed in the “Soft/Outside Money” column as are donations of “Levin” funds to state and local party committees. Levin funds were created by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

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