Capitol Report: Here’s how the pro-Israel lobby — just criticized by Ilhan Omar — stacks up against other Washington influencers

This post was originally published on this site

Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar sparked an outcry after the Minnesota Democrat said Sunday that support for Israel on Capitol Hill is driven by campaign contributions. She apologized on Monday, but continued to say that one prominent pro-Israel group’s role in U.S. politics was “problematic.”

The pro-Israel lobby is a significant player in terms of political donations, contributing $14.9 million in the 2018 election cycle, according to data from, a website tracking money in politics that’s run by a nonpartisan research group, the Center for Responsive Politics.

The center ranks this lobby as the 50th-biggest spender in the last cycle — well behind the securities and investment industry at No. 1 with its $399 million, as well as lagging the electronics industry at No. 19 with its $57 million.

Pro-Israel interest groups have definite clout, according to Ben Freeman, author of “The Foreign Policy Auction” and director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, a think tank. “It would be hard to say that the Israel lobby is not one of the most influential lobbies in D.C.,” Freeman told MarketWatch. “I don’t think anybody would disagree with that, whether they think it’s a good thing or a bad thing.”

The pro-Israel lobby tends to donate more to Democrats than Republicans, having shown higher levels of giving to Democrats In every election cycle since 1990. That’s shown in the center’s chart above. Republicans had been getting a rising share of the contributions in this decade, scoring as much as 47% of pro-Israel interest groups’ money in the 2016 election cycle vs. Democrats’ 53% — up from only 28% for the GOP in 2002. But that trend abated in the 2018 cycle, with Republicans getting just 36% of the outlays.

In addition to the spending by pro-Israel interest groups in the U.S., data based on Foreign Agents Registration Act filings show Israel’s government spent $15.8 million on lobbying-related efforts in 2018, while the nonprofit Jewish Agency for Israel spent $8.3 million.

On Sunday, Omar tweeted about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent promise to take action against her and fellow Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib for their criticisms of Israel, saying his pledge was “all about the Benjamins.” Critics, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, blasted Oman’s tweet as anti-Semitism.

See: Omar ignites new anti-Semitism controversy with AIPAC comments

When asked to explain where the money she was referring to originated, Omar said “AIPAC” in a follow-up Twitter post on Sunday, in a reference to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, a prominent lobbying group. AIPAC does not donate directly to candidates, though a Politico report says it does push a pro-Israel message in Washington, and its members donate to pro-Israel lawmakers and candidates.

Related: Khashoggi outcry may spur Saudis to step up their already-powerful lobbying

Getty Images

Rep. Ilhan Omar takes part in a news conference in January.

The biggest spender among pro-Israel interest groups in the 2018 election cycle was JStreetPAC, which paid out $4.1 million, with 98% of that going to Democrats. JStreet has often clashed with the Israeli government on issues including Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

On the other side of the aisle, the Republican Jewish Coalition — whose leaders include top GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, CEO of casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. LVS, +1.00%  — spent $563,000 in the last cycle, with 99% of that going to Republicans, according to

Related: Trump told Japan’s Abe to consider donor Adelson’s casino bid, report says

Other top pro-Israel spenders aren’t as one-sided in their giving, with the Desert Caucus, a political action committee based in Arizona, dividing its $135,000 in recent contributions fairly equally, with 48% to Democrats and 52% to Republicans.

Pro-Israel lobbyists typically target politicians in both parties, Freeman said.

“If you’re a foreign country looking to change U.S. policy, you’re going to target those people who can change the policy. They might be Democrats one year, and they might be Republicans the next year,” he told MarketWatch. “It doesn’t really matter, as long as they can get done what you want to get done.”

Want news about Asia delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to MarketWatch's free Asia Daily newsletter. Sign up here.

Be Sociable, Share!

Related Posts


MarketTamer is not an investment advisor and is not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Further, owners, employees, agents or representatives of MarketTamer are not acting as investment advisors and might not be registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or the Financial Industry Regulatory.

This company makes no representations or warranties concerning the products, practices or procedures of any company or entity mentioned or recommended in this email, and makes no representations or warranties concerning said company or entity’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, regulations promulgated by the SEC or the CFTC. The sender of this email may receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of any products or services offered by a company or entity mentioned or recommended in this email. The recipient of this email assumes responsibility for conducting its own due diligence on the aforementioned company or entity and assumes full responsibility, and releases the sender from liability, for any purchase or order made from any company or entity mentioned or recommended in this email.

The content on any of MarketTamer websites, products or communication is for educational purposes only. Nothing in its products, services, or communications shall be construed as a solicitation and/or recommendation to buy or sell a security. Trading stocks, options and other securities involves risk. The risk of loss in trading securities can be substantial. The risk involved with trading stocks, options and other securities is not suitable for all investors. Prior to buying or selling an option, an investor must evaluate his/her own personal financial situation and consider all relevant risk factors. See: Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options. The educational training program and software services are provided to improve financial understanding.

The information presented in this site is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Nothing in our research constitutes legal, accounting or tax advice or individually tailored investment advice. Our research is prepared for general circulation and has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive or obtain access to it. Our research is based on sources that we believe to be reliable. However, we do not make any representation or warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy of our research, the completeness, or correctness or make any guarantee or other promise as to any results that may be obtained from using our research. To the maximum extent permitted by law, neither we, any of our affiliates, nor any other person, shall have any liability whatsoever to any person for any loss or expense, whether direct, indirect, consequential, incidental or otherwise, arising from or relating in any way to any use of or reliance on our research or the information contained therein. Some discussions contain forward looking statements which are based on current expectations and differences can be expected. All of our research, including the estimates, opinions and information contained therein, reflects our judgment as of the publication or other dissemination date of the research and is subject to change without notice. Further, we expressly disclaim any responsibility to update such research. Investing involves substantial risk. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results, and a loss of original capital may occur. No one receiving or accessing our research should make any investment decision without first consulting his or her own personal financial advisor and conducting his or her own research and due diligence, including carefully reviewing any applicable prospectuses, press releases, reports and other public filings of the issuer of any securities being considered. None of the information presented should be construed as an offer to sell or buy any particular security. As always, use your best judgment when investing.