Friday, February 2, 2024

AIPAC: Top Donor to Jamaal Bowman’s Primary Challenger | TOME


AIPAC Bankrolls George Latimer’s Campaign Against Jamaal Bowman

After recruiting Westchester County Executive George Latimer to run against Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s PAC is also bankrolling Latimer’s campaign.

AIPAC has given more than $600,000 in total to Latimer’s campaign — 42 percent of his total $1.4 million in contributions so far — according to filings with the Federal Election Commission submitted Wednesday night.

The heavy spending in Bowman’s district is part of AIPAC’s wider plans to spend at least $100 million to oust progressive Democrats in the House. The members, known as the Squad, are regular critics of Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians and U.S. military funding for the ongoing assault on Gaza. (Latimer’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

“This report makes it clear that George Latimer’s campaign to unseat Jamaal Bowman is heavily funded by the same Republican megadonors who’ve spent millions to elect Donald Trump,” Bill Neidhardt, an adviser to Bowman’s campaign, said in a statement to The Intercept. “There is a direct connection between Latimer and the upper echelons of the Republican party.”

Latimer’s race against Bowman has attracted Republican support. The county executive held a fundraiser hosted by a donor to Republicans including former President Donald Trump last month. AIPAC officially endorsed Latimer’s campaign days later. The Intercept reported in December that one AIPAC donor encouraged Jewish Republicans to switch parties to vote in the primary to oust Bowman.

AIPAC has played an outsized role in campaign finance in recent years, since it started giving directly to federal candidates. In addition to its PAC, the group launched a super PAC, United Democracy Project, that spent millions against progressive candidates in 2022. During that election season, AIPAC came under fire for attacking Democrats while it endorsed more than 100 Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. (AIPAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

This cycle, the flagship Israel lobby group ramped up its attacks on Squad members who criticize Israel and supported a congressional ceasefire resolution in Gaza. In addition to Bowman, AIPAC has tried to recruit challengers to oust Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; and Summer Lee, D-Pa.

The group began urging Latimer to challenge Bowman last year after he and other progressive members boycotted a congressional address by Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Bowman had previously been endorsed by J Street, an advocacy group that positions itself as a liberal alternative to AIPAC. But the group withdrew its endorsement of Bowman on Friday and said his rhetoric on Gaza had “crossed a line.”

Latimer’s other major donors include venture capitalists, private equity partners, attorneys, and consultants. The contributors included political strategist Bradley Tusk, who gave the maximum of $6,600; oil trader Shai Barnea, who has given $5,000; and Michael Benn, a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a corporate law firm, who gave $3,300.

In conclusion, AIPAC’s significant financial support for George Latimer’s campaign against Jamaal Bowman has raised eyebrows and sparked controversy. With over $600,000 in contributions from AIPAC, Latimer’s campaign is heavily funded by the same Republican megadonors who have supported former President Donald Trump. This connection between Latimer and the upper echelons of the Republican party has drawn criticism from Bowman’s campaign and raises questions about Latimer’s alignment and priorities. AIPAC’s involvement in campaign finance has been a subject of scrutiny in recent years, particularly due to its attacks on progressive candidates and its endorsement of Republicans who sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. As AIPAC continues its efforts to oust progressive Democrats, including Bowman, Omar, Tlaib, and Lee, the influence of lobbying groups in shaping political landscapes remains a contentious issue.

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