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May 26, 1989 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-26

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

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Financial Efficiency Increases
Influence Of Pro-Israel PACS

JAMES D. BESSER

47t

Washington Correspondent

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30

FRIDAY, MAY 26, 1989

ow powerful are the
pro-Israel political
action committees

(PACs)?
Despite charges by anti-
Zionist groups, pro-Israel
PACs are not the largest or
best funded groups wielding
influence through the cam-
paign finance process.
But according to Ed Rouder,
pro-Israel PACs display a
remarkable financial efficien-
cy that significantly
magnifies their clout on
Capitol Hill.
Rouder is editor of the Sun-
shine News Service, a
Washington group that
analyzes campaign financing
issues and maintains a data
bank on PACs.
"When we look at PACs
that focus on ideological
issues, pro-Israel PACs
outweigh all the others,"
Rouder said. "They don't
spend a lot of money on fund-
raising or advertising; they
contribute about 90 percent of
what they raise directly to
candidates."
PACs representing far-
Right and far-Left causes,
Rouder said, typically funnel
a large proportion of the
money raised into overhead,
including advertising and
salaries. Pro-Israel PACs, he
said, "tend to be not so
mercenary or entrepre-
neurial; they're run by people
who believe in them, and they
don't rip the people off."
Despite his positive com-
ments about the efficiency of
the pro-Israel PACs, Rouder
remains a critic of the cam-
paign financing process. "The
business of PACs is to in-
fluence elections," he said, "to
use private wealth to dilute
the power of the ballot box."
Currently, Rouder's
research shows some 110 pro-
Israel PACs. His preliminary
data from the 1988 election
confirms that the pro-Israel
PACs remain a powerful force
in the electoral process.
"The pro-Israel PACs lost
only two major races," he said.
"They don't pursue losing
causes, they stay out when
they know they'll lose."
Rouder also offers a kind of
backhanded rejection of com-
plaints that pro-Israel PACs
coordinate their activities in
violation of federal laws.
"The fact is that the
technical requirements of the
law are vague, and probably
unconstitutional," he said.

"And they are enforced by the
Federal Election Commission
. — and therefore entirely ir-
relevant. The FEC is to the
industry of buying elections
what the NRC is to the in-
dustry of producing nuclear
power. It's a partner of the in-
dustry, a promoter."

Groups Quiet -
On Appointment
Of Michiganian

As the controversy rages
over the appointment of
William Lucas as assistant
Attorney General for Civil
Rights, Jewish groups are
playing an unusually quiet
role in the battle.
Recently, the Leadership
Conference on Civil Rights, a
coalition of civil rights groups
that includes many mainline
Jewish organizations, came
out against the nomination.
But with the exception of the
Union of American Hebrew
Congregations, the Jewish
groups participating in the
Conference abstained.
In part, according to sources
here, Jewish groups have
stayed on the sidelines
because of a growing fear that
mobilizing their grass-roots
networks could jeopardize
their tax-free status. Current-
ly, the Internal Revenue Ser-
vice is reviewing policies that
limit tax-exempt organiza-
tions like the National Coun-
cil of Jewish Women from
engaging in certain kinds of
political activities.
Also, some Jewish groups
are reluctant to come out
publicly against a black
nominee for a high ad-
ministration position —
especially in view of the small
number of minorities current-
ly filling high-level posts.
And some Jewish groups
are remaining on the
sidelines for strategic
reasons. "We remain strong-
ly committed to civil rights
enforcement," said a
representative - of the
American Jewish Congress.
"But this is not an issue we
feel requires our intervention.
There are other places where
we can be more effective."

Jewish Groups
Are Moving
On Apartheid

The issue of sanctions
against the apartheid policies
of the South African govern-
ment is beginning to heat up
again, with Jewish groups
poised to play a major role.

Last week, several leading
African anti-apartheid
leaders met in Washington in
an effort to rejuvenate the
push for a tough new sanc-
tions bill introduced by Rep.
Ron Dellums, (D-Calif.).
At one key session, Ar-
chbishop Desmond Tutu, Rev.
Allan A. Boesak and Rev.
Beyers Naude met with a
group including Sen. Frank
Lautenberg, (D-N.J.), Rep.
Stephen Solarz, (D-N.Y.), Rep.
Howard Wolpe, (D-Mich.), and
former presidential aspirant
Jesse Jackson. -
Also present was Herman
Cohen, the newly confirmed
undersecretary of state for
African affairs.
"This would have been
unheard of during the
Reagan years," said Diana

Howard Wolpe

Aviv, a representative of the
National Jewish Community
Relations Advisory Council,
(NJCRAC). Aviv was the on-
ly Jewish activist present at
the meeting. "The fact that
an undersecretary of state
would be at a meeting of this
kind is tremendously signifi-
cant."
The meetings, Aviv said,
gave anti-apartheid activists
a badly needed boost. "The
fact that this meeting was at-
tended by members of both
parties, as well as by a top ad-
ministration official, suggests
that there's a new willingness
to develop a coherent
strategy," she said.
And Jewish groups, in-
cluding the National Council
of Jewish Women and the
Union of American Hebrew
Congregations are cranking
up their grass-roots resources
to take advantage of the new
opportunities.

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