Obama Foes Form Super PAC

Emergency Committee Can Raise and Spend Unlimited Sums

Ad-ing Against Obama: The Emergency Committee for Israel has set up a Super PAC that will be able raise and spent unlimited sums, as long as it acts independently of political candidates.
emergency committee for israel
Ad-ing Against Obama: The Emergency Committee for Israel has set up a Super PAC that will be able raise and spent unlimited sums, as long as it acts independently of political candidates.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published January 02, 2012, issue of January 06, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The Emergency Committee for Israel, which recently accused President Obama of “blaming Israel first” in full-page major media ads, is taking a pioneering role in the new world of campaign finance spawned by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent landmark Citizens United decision.

Among the advocacy groups fighting for the Jewish vote in 2012, ECI is the only one to have formed its own Super PAC, a new kind of campaign finance committee that is allowed to take contributions and make expenditures without limit so long as it remains formally independent of any candidate or political party.

ECI’s Super PAC, established in 2010, has seen little use since the election cycle of that same year. But its existence suggests that ECI’s political strategy is focused more on campaign messaging than on influencing policy. The Super PAC’s filings also indicate that the group is reliant on a few major donors rather than on broad grassroots support.

Besides its recent anti-Obama ads, ECI, which was also founded in 2010, made large ad buys in a few major 2010 midterm races and special elections. But unlike its dovish opponent J Street, ECI’s strategy doesn’t call for spending time on the traditional occupations of advocacy groups, such as currying favor with incumbents or building a grassroots operation.

“We aren’t interested in funneling money to candidates to induce them to take positions they might not otherwise take,” wrote Michael Goldfarb, ECI’s treasurer and a public relations executive with Orion Strategies, in an email to the Forward. “We believe that the vast majority of Americans are pro-Israel and that if there is a real contrast on this issue between the two candidates in any given race, voters will make the right choice if they have all the information before them.”

Founded in July 2010, ECI is guided by William Kristol, a prominent neoconservative and editor of The Weekly Standard, a right-wing opinion journal. A one-time booster of Sarah Palin, Kristol has close ties to the Republican establishment. The ECI board is rounded out by prominent evangelical and former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer and Rachel Abrams, wife of Republican foreign policy stalwart Elliot Abrams. The group’s executive director is Noah Pollak, a former editor at Azure, a journal published by the Israel-based Shalem Center.

ECI itself is incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization. Such groups are allowed by the IRS to engage in political campaigning so long as they do not spend more than half their expenditures on political activity. But ECI’s associated Super PAC, called the Emergency Committee for Israel PAC, faces no such limits.

Super PACs first appeared in early 2010 following the landmark Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and constitute a sort of Wild West of election law, unfettered by the complex limits and spending requirements that restrict traditional political action committees and 501(c)(4)s.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.