Son of George Soros launches Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC…and it’s not about Israel
A Jewish political action committee (PAC) devoted solely to promoting progressive stances on domestic issues in the United States was launched April 21 by the nonprofit Bend the Arc. The new PAC is the first of its kind among this country’s more than 30 Jewish PACs, most of which focus on Israel and the Middle East. Serving as the chair of the PAC’s board is Alexander Soros, son of billionaire financier and Democratic mega-donor George Soros.
The Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC launched with $200,000 in commitments, its director, Hadar Susskind, told the Journal; it has already thrown its support behind four Democratic congressional candidates in the November 2016 election — Yvette Clarke of New York, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Rep. Xavier Becerra of California and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.
Susskind said that the four congressional members were interviewed by Bend the Arc PAC before the group decided to support them. He added that Bend the Arc PAC plans to add more House candidates to its slate, as well as a few Senate candidates — but for now will stay out of the presidential race. “[That’s] not a reflection on [Hillary] Clinton or any other candidates,” Susskind said.
On the day of the launch, an opinion piece by Alexander Soros was published in Politico saying Bend the Arc PAC represents the political views of most American Jews, who, according to polling, are not concerned primarily with Israel and are among the most liberal groups in the United States.
“There are people, including lots of Jews, who are politically involved, who work through Emily’s List or Sierra Club or Move On, but none of them bring the Jewish community’s voice to the political table,” Susskind said, amplifying Soros’ piece on Politico. “People who are involved in the Jewish voice have, until now, only had the opportunity to do that on Israel and in Middle East policy.” Another Jewish PAC, the Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (known as JACPAC), is based in Chicago and focuses on Israel as well as on domestic abortion rights and separation of church and state.
Even while polls show an increase in the number of Jews who have moved toward Republican Party identification since 2008, 61 percent of American Jews currently identify with the Democrats, while 29 percent identify with Republicans, and Susskind said he is confident the overwhelming support for Democratic politicians and policies will continue.
“You can go back every four years and, frankly, off-cycle years too, and see the same quotes from the same people who say, ‘Oh yeah, Jews are abandoning the Democrats, Jews are abandoning the Democrats.' It’s never proven to be true, and I don’t expect it to be any different this time,” Susskind said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate when anybody says, ‘Oh, I speak for the Jewish community.’ What we are representing, though, as demonstrated by poll after poll after poll, are the political views of the majority of the community.”
PACs have existed since the early 1940s, when supporters of Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Congress of Industrial Organizations. PACs are allowed to collect up to $5,000 from any single donor and may donate up to $5,000 to any single candidate, or $15,000 to any single party. Thousands of PACs exist today, and they’ve long drawn ire from many Democrats who say they play a corrosive role in American politics by flooding elections with money.
Adelsons donate to PAC supporting Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s campaign
Casino mogul and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson and his wife have contributed to an independent super PAC to support Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s congressional candidacy.
Adelson and his wife, Miriam, each gave $250,000 to a new independent super political action committee, the Patriot Prosperity PAC, which is supporting Boteach’s New Jersey congressional run in a newly redrawn voting district against Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, an eight-term incumbent, The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday, citing “people close to the Adelsons and the PAC.”
The Adelsons previously have given directly to the Boteach campaign, according to the newspaper. Sheldon Adelson and Boteach are also personal friends, as well as mutual acquaintances with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the newspaper reported.
Through political action committees, Adelson and his wife have funneled $10 million toward presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s election effort, after spending an equal amount on the failed campaign of Newt Gingrich. Adelson has said he’s willing to spend up to $100 million to defeat President Obama.
Adelson has given nearly $100 million to Birthright Israel, the program that brings Jews ages 18-26 to Israel for free. He gave a $25 million gift to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem in 2006. From 2007 to 2009, he funded a $4.5 million strategic studies center in his name at the Shalem Center, a think tank in Jerusalem. His relatively smaller donations have helped bolster groups such as the Zionist Organization of America.
Boteach’s stated platform includes support for school vouchers, a flat tax and making marital counseling tax deductible in an effort to lower the divorce rate. He has criticized what he sees as an excessive Republican focus on sexual issues such as gay marriage.
Boteach, who once was affiliated with the Chabad movement, bills himself as “America’s Rabbi.” He hosts a show on TLC called “Shalom in the Home” and is the author of several books, including “Kosher Sex,” “Kosher Adultery,” “The Kosher Sutra” and, most recently, “Kosher Jesus.”
Ohio: Brown-Mandel U.S. Senate race among most costly
A flood of money brought in by prominent national political action committees has become the norm in this year’s U.S. Senate race in Ohio, which pits first-term incumbent Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, against Republican Josh Mandel, the state treasurer and a Jewish Iraq war veteran.
Because of the state’s swing role in recent presidential elections — going for George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 — the national parties are paying particular attention to Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. As a result, television advertisements for President Obama and the presumptive GOP challenger Mitt Romney are blitzing across the state’s airwaves along with ads from the Brown and Mandel camps.
The Ohio U.S. Senate races are consistently listed in the top three most expensive ones in the country, along with Massachusetts and Texas, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). As of the end of June, Brown’s campaign had amassed $15 million and had spent about $8.8 million, according to CRP. Mandel’s campaign had $9.9 million and had spent almost $5 million.
Polls have Brown in front by various margins. A June 25 Quinnipiac poll had Brown ahead of Mandel, 50-34, and a July 18 Rasmussen Report called the race at 46-42 in favor of the incumbent.
Support for Israel has not been a major issue in this campaign, but is being addressed by the candidates.
Mandel has not held federal office, but his backers call him a strong supporter of Israel, which, on his campaign Web site, he calls “our most reliable ally in the Middle East.” He has been a supporter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee since his college years at Ohio State University.
Mandel has called for the United States to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has stated there is no such thing as East and West Jerusalem, adding Jews should be allowed to build homes anywhere in that city.
In his role as state treasurer, Mandel authored and was involved in divesting state pension funds from companies doing business in Iran.
Brown, who served in the U.S. House of Representative from 1993 to 2007, is one of four Senate candidates whom J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobby, has endorsed thus far in the 2012 election.
“Sherrod is committed to full funding of aid to Israel, and he supports preserving Israel’s military edge against any threats in the region,” Sadie Weiner, press secretary with Friends of Sherrod Brown, said. “He supports legislation furthering sanctions on Iran, and he also believes that no option is off the table” when it comes to dealing with Iran.
On the Republican side, PACs such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have pumped in millions of dollars to blitz the Buckeye state with anti-Brown commercials. Crossroads GPS in particular has been running issue advocacy ads targeting Brown’s support of Obama’s health care plan and stimulus package.
Democratic super PACs such as Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Majority PAC, the League of Conservation Voters and Service Employees International Union have unleashed their own advertisements against Mandel.
Democrats concede the PAC money is influencing the race. “It’s fair to say the only reason Josh Mandel is doing as well as he is is because of the vast quantities of money pouring in,” David A. Harris, president and CEO at the National Jewish Democratic Council, said.
“This unfortunate picture is evidence” that super PAC money “can actually change ballots and bring [Mandel] in striking distance of a good public servant,” he said.
In a July 25 fundraising letter, Mandel, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, also criticized spending, but said it’s being used to defeat him.
But Weiner countered, “Josh Mandel’s secretly funded special interest friends have spent $11.5 million to boost his flailing campaign and lie about Sherrod’s record — more than has been spent against any other Senate candidate in the country.”
Majority PAC communications director Zach Gorin noted, “It’s the height of hypocrisy for Josh Mandel to go up in arms over spending when Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have spent in the neighborhood of $10 million on his behalf. Mandel is swimming in special interest cash, raising money from payday lenders in the Bahamas instead of being in Ohio doing the job he was elected to do.”
Gorin was referring to a trip Mandel took in the spring to the Bahamas for a fundraiser. Mandel raised $67,000 there, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.
Brown’s campaign office released a list of outside money totaling close to $11.5 million being spent against their candidate. On that list are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent $4.7 million, and Crossroads GPS, which has pumped in $2.5 million. Another $2.3 million came from 60 Plus Association, which calls for the privatization of Social Security and the end of Medicare, according to Brown’s campaign.
PolitiFact, Ohio’s Truth-O-Meter, which attempts to verify or refute candidates’ campaign statements, recently looked into 15 of Brown’s claims, rating all of them either “true” or “mostly true.” The group also looked into 12 of Mandel’s remarks made while politicking, calling seven of them “true” or “mostly true,” but five earned its “pants on fire rating.”
Adelson says he’ll pay ‘whatever it takes’ to oust Obama
Sheldon Adelson reportedly has said he will donate “whatever it takes” to defeat President Obama.
Forbes Magazine reported Thursday that a source close to the casino magnate said that Adelson is willing to donate more than the $10 million he gave this week to Restore Our Future, a pro-Mitt Romney political action committee. Such PACs generally run negative attacks on a candidate’s opponent. The source told Forbes that Adelson believes “no price is too high” to defeat Obama.
Adelson had said previously that he was ready to spend as much as $100 million to help Newt Gingrich, his old friend and the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, win the Republican nomination.
After Gingrich withdrew, Adelson said he would switch allegiances to Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and the presumptive nominee.
Romney and Adelson met late last month. Adelson, a major donor to Jewish and right-wing pro-Israel causes, says Israel is a critical element in how he determines political support.
Adelson reportedly gives ‘substantial’ new donation to Gingrich PAC
Casino and hotel magnate Sheldon Adelson reportedly has given a “substantial” new donation to a group supporting Newt Gingrich for the Republican presidential nomination.
Adelson gave the donation to Winning Our Future, an independent committee, or Super PAC, that is run by former Gingrich associates, Politico reported Tuesday, one week ahead of the Super Tuesday primary vote in 10 states. Adelson and his wife already have given $11 million to the PAC.
The new contribution, which came in a few days ago, is comparable to previous ones, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the donation.
CNN and CBS reported last week that Adelson would give $10 million more to the group.
Gingrich has been slipping in the GOP race for the presidential nomination.
Super PACs can raise unlimited sums from corporations, unions and other groups, as well as individuals, and indirectly support a political candidate. They cannot by law coordinate with the candidate’s official campaign.
Adelson, chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., is worth more than $21 billion, according to Forbes magazine. He is a major giver to Birthright Israel, which provides free 10-day trips to Israel for Jews aged 18 to 26.