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July 03, 1987 - Image 31

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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its executive director, Thom-
as A. Dine, refused repeated
requests for interviews on the
group's relationship with the
pro-Israel PACs. Reading from
a prepared statement, an
AIPAC spokeswoman says the
group "denies most forcefully
that any such (spending) coor-
dination occurs," and insists
that the interlock with pro-
Israel PAC leaders "is a func-
tion of the nature of political
activism and in no way con-
notes affiliation or connec-
tion."
But the overlaps between
the organization and the pro-
Israel PACs begin at the top.
For instance, the Los Angeles-
based Citizens Organized
Political Action Committee
was founded by the wife of
AIPAC's chairman, Lawrence
J. Weinberg. And Citizens
Concerned for the National
Interest, located in Chicago,
was started by Robert H.
Asher, AIPAC's president.
Neither could be reached for
comment.
Both AIPAC and the pro-
Israel PACs were keenly in-
terested in the tight 1986
California Senate race be-
tween incumbent Democrat
Alan Cranston, a staunch
supporter of Israel, and
Republican candidate Edwin
Zschau. Last September,
three AIPAC staff members —
regional director Murray
Wood, lobbyist Dan Cohen
and intern Michael Tuchin —
met at AIPAC's Los Angeles
office with Breck McKinley, a
Libertarian Party candidate.

,

Anti-Zschau
Strategy Alleged

During the meeting, accord-
ing to Mr. McKinley, Mr.
Cohen offered to get him a
campaign manager and to
finance a direct-mail cam-
paign for him in heavily
Republican Orange County.
Mr. McKinley, who at that
time had earmarked $350 to
spend on his campaign,
asserts that Mr. Cohen's
"stated purpose was to get
Zschau" by siphoning votes
away from him. After con-
sidering the offer, Mr. Mc-
Kinley says, he decided to re-
ject any assistance.
Messrs. Cohen, Wood and
Tuchin didn't respond to
phone calls on the subject.
Meanwhile, AIPAC's spokes-
woman confirms that a
meeting took place, but calls
it a "routine" contact that
AIPAC staff members make
with many candidates and
asserts that no offer of cam-
paign aid was ever made.
The race that experienced
the biggest influx of pro-
Israel PAC money was the

Senate race in South Dakota,
where Democratic Rep. Thom-
as Daschle's successful cam-
paign received $229,480. The
PACs and people associated
with them spent another
$91,000 to help the state's
Democratic Party finance an
unprecedentedly lavish get-
out-the-vote drive, including
computerized voter lists,
statewide phone banks and
paid operatives who scoured
remote Indian reservations
for Democrats needing a ride
to the polls.
The effort on behalf of Mr.
Daschle infuriated Stanford
M. Adelstein, a Rapid City de-
veloper, a former AIPAC ex-
ecutive committee member —
and a Republican. "I'm angry.
I really, in a sense, gave up on
AIPAC," says Mr. Adelstein,
who estimates that half of the
state's 150 Jewish families
are Republican.
Mr. Adelstein says he went
to great lengths to get Jewish
contributors to listen to in-
cumbent GOP Sen. James
Abdnor, and he helped ar-
range the senator's mid-
campaign trip to Israel,
where Mr. Abdnor promised
to soften his long-held stand
against all foreign aid. But
Mr. Abdnor was unsuccessful
in stemming the flow of funds
to his opponent.
Mr. Abdnor wasn't the only
target of pro-Israel money to
visit Israel last year; Mr.
Zschau and Sen. Symms also
made trips there and had
warm praise for Israeli
leaders and their prospects_
for future U.S. aid.
Leaders of the pro-Israel
PACs who also hold high posi-
tions in AIPAC deny that
their two roles overlap. What
happens with the campaign
money, they insist, is the
result of local PACs making
entirely independent deci-
sions. For instance, Jeffrey L.
Berkowitz, the head of the
Miami-based National Action
Committee PAC and a mem-
ber of AIPAC's executive com-
mittee, says that when the
committee meets in Washing-
ton, matters involving the
pro-Israel PACs never come
up.
"We don't discuss that. It
happens to be illegal to work
cooperatively. We discuss
politics in general terms,"
says Mr. Berkowitz, a lawyer
and real estate developer. He
says it is a "coincidence" that
his and the other 28 PACs
represented n the executive
committee so often agreed on
what candidates to back.

Reprinted with permission of the Wall Street
Journal, • 1987, Dow Jones and Co. Inc. All

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