Pro-Israel PAC Is Funding Dems With Anti-Abortion Money to Unseat Dems Who’ve Called for a Ceasefire

AIPAC is spending millions from anti-abortion donors to unseat progressive Democrats like Reps. Jamal Bowman (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO). The challengers accepting their funding are undermining the entire Democratic party.

Politics
Pro-Israel PAC Is Funding Dems With Anti-Abortion Money to Unseat Dems Who’ve Called for a Ceasefire
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, left, and George Latimer. Photos: Shutterstock

In April, Jezebel reported that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has endorsed over 200 anti-abortion Republicans this cycle—including dozens who have voted for or even co-authored extreme, anti-abortion legislation like the Life at Conception Act, which would establish fetal personhood. This election cycle, since Israel launched its horrific war on Gaza in October, AIPAC has waged an almost unprecedentedly aggressive spending campaign to primary and unseat Democratic Congress members who have called for a ceasefire in Gaza. And, according to a new Politico report from this weekend, since AIPAC believes support for Israel is bipartisan, an outsized number of donors who have given to Democratic candidates via AIPAC this cycle have given to anti-abortion Republicans since 2020.

Specifically, nearly half of these donors—46%—to AIPAC’s Democratic challengers against members like Reps. Jamal Bowman (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO) are also donating to anti-abortion Republicans. Bowman and Bush were among the first to call for a ceasefire. According to Politico’s review of campaign finance data, AIPAC is “the biggest source of Republican money flowing into competitive Democratic primaries this year.”

This breakdown is especially concerning amid the looming threat of a federal abortion ban, should Republicans take both chambers of Congress and the White House this November. Democrats who accept funding from anti-abortion donors via AIPAC are fundamentally undermining the Democratic party writ large as it vocally runs on abortion rights this cycle.

Bowman’s primary takes place on June 25, and AIPAC, alongside its affiliated super PAC, United Democracy Project, has spent a staggering $10 million to try to unseat him for his opposition to Israel’s war. Bowman is being challenged by George Latimer, a moderate Democrat who’s staunchly supported Israel (and traveled to Israel in October), and received $1.61 million from AIPAC this cycle as of April 30, as well as $9.3 million from United Democracy Project. According to Politico, AIPAC has raised more money for Latimer than any other candidate. That money comes from about 1,800 donors, and almost half of those donors (40%) have previously given to anti-abortion, Republican candidates. In other words, even as Latimer publicly supports reproductive rights, he continues to accept funding from donors who are building toward a federal abortion ban. 

In a statement shared with Jezebel, Bowman pointed to his reproductive rights bonafides through his first Congressional term, including his co-sponsoring the Women’s Health Protection Act and “strongly supporting” the Right to Contraception Act. “Democratic voters deserve a Congressman that will not only defend, but fight like I have to expand their abortion rights and reproductive freedoms against the MAGA extremists desperate to strip them away,” Bowman said. He continued, “I’m the only candidate endorsed by Planned Parenthood in this race. There is no room for compromise on reproductive freedom, but my opponent has done just that: sold out to AIPAC and their right-wing donors who want to ban abortions nationwide.”

Nine of United Democracy Project’s top 10 donors are Republican billionaires and mega donors who have backed former President Trump and Trump-aligned candidates pushing an anti-abortion agenda. United Democracy Project has already spent $19.8 million on competitive Democratic primaries this year, per Politico’s report. Consequently, the super PAC is the biggest outside group involved in Democratic primaries this year, spending more than the next 10 biggest spenders in Democratic primaries combined.

Bush has been another top target of AIPAC’s spending this cycle. Her primary challenger is Wesley Bell, a moderate Democrat who originally ran for Senate against Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), only to transition to primary Bush; he’s since accepted close to $1 million from AIPAC as of April 30. Additionally, Bell’s taken money from Hawley’s donors, Sen. Eric Schmidt’s (R-MO) donors, and donors who have given to the Missouri state lawmaker behind the state’s current total abortion ban, according to HuffPost.

By contrast, Bush has been one of the most vocally pro-abortion rights members of Congress, sharing her own abortion story and emerging as the first member to call for the repeal of the Comstock Act, which could be wielded by a Republican president to ban abortion. “When far-right, anti-abortion GOP megadonors flood our deep blue Democratic primaries with tens of millions of dollars on behalf of their hand-picked candidates, they expect a return on their investment,” Bush said in a statement shared with Jezebel. “How can voters trust someone who accepts that kind of money not to sell us out when it comes to protecting our reproductive freedom and defending our democracy?”

Through the backing and anti-abortion money of AIPAC, Bell, Latimer, and other Democrats endorsed by the pro-Israel PAC are inextricably linked to some of the most extreme anti-abortion members of Congress. Among the Republicans endorsed and funded by AIPAC are all four co-chairs of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus (Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), Andy Harris (R-MD) and Kat Cammack (R-FL). Smith has introduced more anti-abortion bills (83) than any other member of Congress. Other AIPAC endorsees include Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), who are tied as co-sponsors of the most anti-abortion bills in the House (212 each).

“With AIPAC as the single largest vehicle for Republican donor spending in Democratic primaries, they have opened the floodgates for the GOP’s largest anti-abortion donors to spend millions attacking Democratic incumbents,” Usamah Andrabi, a spokesperson for the progressive political action committee Justice Democrats, told Jezebel. “Abortion rights aren’t just on the ballot in November, they’re on the ballot in the Republican-funded primary challenges to Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush this June and August.”

Accepting funding from AIPAC is at odds with the Democratic party’s stated support for reproductive rights—and not just because the organization is funneling money from anti-abortion extremists. Israel’s war on Gaza has yielded horrific reproductive violence, including a reported 300% increase in miscarriages, widespread infections, and diseases among pregnant people and new mothers, and the total decimation of access to reproductive care. Between lobbying for this war and backing anti-abortion Republicans, AIPAC is entirely out-of-step with the Democratic party’s promises on reproductive rights during an especially pivotal election year for the issue. 

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