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!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • 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.