CODEPINK calls for investigation into ‘AIPAC loophole’ for Israel junkets

CODEPINK sent out the following press release earlier today:

The peace group CODEPINK has filed a formal complaint with the Congressional Ethics Committee, calling for an investigation of the junkets to Israel paid for by the powerful Israel lobby AIPAC but channeled through their educational front group, The American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). This summer recess, a staggering 81 Congresspeople—one out of five members—are participating in these trips.

According to the House Ethics Rules, Congress is prohibited from participating in any multiple-day trip that is planned, organized, requested, or arranged by a lobbyist. AIPAC skirts the law by funneling the trips through AIEF.

According to the latest publicly available tax returns, in 2009 AIEF did not even have paid staff, relying on AIPAC employees to do its work. AIPAC contributed more than $3.2 million of employee salaries to cover the staff costs of AIEF in 2009. In other words, a 501(c)(4) organization with registered lobbyists is paying for the staff of a 501(c)(3) organization to run congressional delegations that cannot legally be funded by an organization that employs registered lobbyists.

“AIPAC barely tries to hide that fact that AIEF is a front group,” says CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin, who filed the complaint. “The groups are housed in the same offices, have overlapping boards of directors, share staff, employ the same Chief Financial Officer and are constantly moving funds from one entity to another. It’s time for Congress to put an end to this charade by closing the AIPAC loophole.”

Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen who helped draft federal lobbying and ethics reform legislation signed into law in 2007, agrees. “The House ethic rules do not allow a non-profit group like AIEF, which is controlled and directed by the lobby group AIPAC, to pay for travel junkets for members of Congress. This AIPAC loophole is rendering the travel rules meaningless and should be stopped,” says Holman.

“With constituents facing severe economic hardships, Representatives should be home in their districts during this August recess to tell voters how they will dig us out the mess they’ve created,” says Josh Ruebner, the national advocacy director at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. “Instead many of them are spending part of their recess in Israel on a lobbyist-funded trip, being pressured into even more tax-payer-funded weapons for the Israeli military, weapons used to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians.”

CODEPINK, which organizes citizen diplomacy delegations to Israel and Palestine, including Gaza, believes these AIPAC trips give the participants a skewed view that hides the oppressive nature of the Israeli government. “The trips are designed to push the U.S. Congress into supporting AIPAC policies of unconditional support for the Israel government, such as continuing to give $3 billion of our taxdollars to Israel and vetoing the upcoming Palestinian call for statehood at the UN,” said Benjamin. “AIPAC puts the interests of Israel before U.S. interests, which makes these Congressional junkets dangerous and downright un-American.”

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 44 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Chespirito says:

    Excelente. I do love the way that CodePink, coming out of leftist feminism, has become quite proficient in the language of national interest, the language of Mearsheimer, Walt and realism, a language that this country’s majority of non-leftists readily groks and grooves to. This is what we need more of if we’re ever going to launch a mass movement for a substantially demilitarized foreign policy. The confluence of leftwing idealists and nonleft realists that are rallying against our speical relationship with apartheid client state #1 is a mightily encouraging intellectual development in an otherwise bleak foreign policy discourse. Maximum respect to you CodePink: you rrrrock.

    • CigarGod says:

      The new thought that my grandkids may someday read about patriotism and how CodePink helped save America…in our history books…has to be one of my favorite musings.

      • Taxi says:

        Consider adding the wondrous ‘Anonymous’ group to your reading list, Cigargod.

        CodePink and Anonymous. What an interesting pair of citizen-activism organizations. It’s their ‘creative approach’ that sets them apart from other well-intentioned citizen groups.

        As far as I’m concerned, they fit right into the ‘Brave New World’ that’s kicked up under our feet this century.

        CodePink and Anonymous have already done so much good to the broken world of the silent majority. They’ve given it voice.

        They’re already futuristic legends as far as I’m concerned.

  2. annie says:

    YEAH!

    i love code pink. they are having a fundraising on the 22nd in SF. i’m going!

  3. Bravo Medea, Rae, Alli, Sasha, Tighe et al, you creative and courageous pink-clad warriors, you! Great idea!

  4. PINK POWER!
    PINK POWER!
    PINK POWER!
    Think: “Pink Power!”

    P.S. HAPPY FERROGOSTO, EVERYBODY!!!
    Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto) (2008) – link to movies.netflix.com

  5. CodePink are a joke, they ignore any real issues that face women in the world to bash a country that despite everything should be the envy of most feminists.

    • Elliot says:

      Why not all feminists?
      I can’t tell you the number of women tourists who have complained of overt sexist behavior in Israel. Have you read top Israeli novelist David Grossman’s “To the End of the Land”. Women are socially required to make the war machine work.

      Seems to me that it’s sexist to expect CODEPINK activists to limit their campaign to women’s issues.

    • Dan Crowther says:

      So, Palestinian women are free from occupation?

    • Cliff says:

      Since when does a racist Zionist troll care about women ‘in the world’?

    • To correct you, LongLive Israel NOT, Code Pink is out to bash those members of the US Congress who through lack of spine or unprincipled ambition, have decided that showing their fealty to Israel is more important than dealing with the critical issues facing their constituents.

      Just out of curiosity, since I am interested in what is commonly and often mistakenly referred to as “dual loyalty,” LongLive Israel NOT, and assuming that you were born in the US or the UK, at what point did you, in effect, consciously reject the land of your birth in favor of a foreign country, Israel? Do you still keep your US or British passport? And, if so, why?

      • Jeffrey, I love that you think you know better than all these Congress members what is and is not good for the USA.

        I use that handle LongliveIsrael, respect that. I don’t add any letters to your name to mock you.

        As for myself, I was born in Canada to a mother who survived Auschwitz. My being born in Canada was not a choice. Despite Canada’s poor record for absorbing Jews during WW2, (See None is Too Many) I am thankful to Canada for taking us in. I did however experience anti-semitism, sometimes violent, on a fairly regular basis.

        Today I am also very thankful to Prime Minister Harper for showing true principles and supporting Israel. I retain my Canadian passport, simply because I see no reason to reject it. I served in the IDF and the Security services, and I would do so again in a second.

        I have said this before and I will say it again. It is in the most vital interests of the Israelis and Palestinians to have peace, we could have an amazing neighbourhood here. I am saddened that generation after generation of Palestinians have been led to despair and ruin. I put the blame TOTALLY on their so-called brethren and their leadership. I and most Israelis knew all along what we were and are dealing with as far as Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Iran go, not to mention Hizbollah and Hamas.

        Has Israel made mistakes? Sure, we are human just like anyone else. However, according to posters here on MW, we are sub-human. Well, we have been through being defined as sub human, today however we fight back.

        • Citizen says:

          Hey, longlivecanada, er, I mean longliveisrael. So when did you serve in the Canadian defense force?

        • Taxi says:

          You poor miserable victim.

          Ever thought you got into fights with people cuz you’re an azhole and not because you’re jewish? Just a thought.

        • annie says:

          I use that handle LongliveIsrael, respect that.

          or else what? you want respect, israel wants respect..earn it.

        • I would be very happy to personally usher you and settlers like you on to a plane or ship to send you back to Canada and if I’m not around there will surely be someone else, so do hold on to your passport although your loyalty to your birthplace is clearly elsewhere.

          Is it any wonder, given the likes of you, and the many Western Jews who have never known a day of oppression yet who have abandoned their native lands for Israel, that many non-Jews in these countries question the loyalty of their fellow Jewish citizens?

          I remember as a child reading a short book entitled. “The Man Without a Country,” by Edward Everett Hale. In it was a line that I will never forget: “Breathes there a man with a soul so dead who never to himself has said, ‘this is my own, my native land?’” You’re the man, as they say and you are surrounded with similar…..at the moment I am at a loss at what to call them and you. But it wouldn’t be pretty.

          There are many people who are forced to emigrate from their homelands for different compelling and legitimate reasons and I have lived abroad myself, but I find something particularly disgusting about olim such as yourself that requires its own category or ghetto.

          What else is to be said, except, Long Live Israel NOT!

    • CigarGod says:

      1. You hold up as an example, Israel… where Israeli women make 70% of what Israeli men make?

      2. You think 50% of the worlds population (women) don’t care about AIPAC?

      I guess you think it is a man’s issue and they should go home and bake a cake.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      Says they guy in whose country women must ride at the back of the bus or be spat upon.

  6. Taxi says:

    Can I buy you ladies in pink some French champagne? LOL!

    Chespirito is rrrrrocking right on the money too!

  7. mudder says:

    On top of this is Grant Smith’s discovery, which he reported on this site, that

    “On its 2010 form 990, the American Israel Education Foundation declared that it transferred $13,503,472 (of presumably tax deductible funds, which helped donors reduce their payments to Uncle Sam)…..to the…..wait for it……American Israel Public Affairs Committee….for ‘education’ purpuses. Since AIPAC is a 501(c)(4) (and donations are not tax deductible) that raises a lot of questions….”

    • pabelmont says:

      Cute! But, seriously, if a lobbying organization has people doing strictly non-lobbying-but-actually-educational work, why shouldn’t a 501(c)(3) be able to HIRE them (in effect) to do its own educational work?

      But consider how the USA treats people who give money to HAMAS for hospitals (say): good ole USA says, HAMAS is a “terrorist” organization and every gift to HAMAS promotes “terror” even if the money is given “for” hospitals, because money is fungible and money given to HAMAS “for” hospitals just leaves them more money to spend for “terror”.

      By this argument, money given to AIPAC by AIEF “for” education just leaves AIPAC with more money “for” lobbying and is, thus, itself “for” lobbying, not a proper business of a 501(c)(3).

    • MRW says:

      It’s simpler than that.

      The American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) donated $13,503,472 in tax deductible funds for educational purposes (2010 form 990).

      AIPAC lists two donors. One donated $48 million-plus. The other donated $13,503,472.
      =====================

      The IRS gave Grant Smith the docs under FOIA and covered up the names of the two donors. So the IRS knows this is going on.

      Hope Code Pink points this out as well.

  8. pabelmont says:

    For how many years have various people tried to get AIPAC and the rest of THE LOBBY removed from the 501(c)(3) [tax deductible] category! IRS has never wanted to rock the boat. Keep Congress from junkets? (Keep kids from junk food?) Good luck anyhow. In any case it’s consciousness-raising.

  9. mudder says:

    Oh I get it. AIEF does tax evasion while AIPAC does political corruption and espionage. That’s how they differ.

  10. MRW says:

    Code Pink, Medea Benjamin, you’re fabulous.

  11. ToivoS says:

    Some good news out of Washington:
    link to haaretz.com

    Sen Patrick Leahy has introduced a resolution asking that three IDF units be cut off from US support for human rights abuses.

  12. Amar says:

    I’ll bet he’s retiring or not seeking re-election. Even so its a bold move on his part.

  13. Senator Leahy and people of Vermont: way to go!!

  14. CigarGod says:

    I hope the people of Vermont keep matching/exceeding the donations of Israel/supporters.

    I smoked a cynical cigar this morning.

  15. Citizen says:

    I see from Twitter that CodePink has found common ground with Leahy and Ron Paul. Way to go pinkgrrls! CodePink is also going public on the lack of ethics of those US congress whores on their AIPAC sponsored (via a spin off shell corp) “free” vacation in Israel to be properly coached “there’s no daylight between US & Israel.”

  16. tellmeall says:

    Didn’t have time to read comments first so probably someone already noted that the 81 junkyteers are only the Democrat crew – there are 50+ Republicans signed up — wonder if any will cancel now?

    They don’t get that this is as close to a ‘down with the Bastille Day’ mood in USA as I’ve ever seen in my lengthy life.

  17. Watcher465 says:

    So Leahy wil be the next to die? Tell it to the Kennedys who were killed by the Jewish Mafa, the only genuine mafia in US history. Follow the birth of AIPAC and you will understand. Leahy will be stalled at every opportunity and if he doesn’t give up he has to die. As for “iloveisrael” how many times does “lie” & “liar” appear in that name? No you scum, you are not a human. Everyone can smell a stinking Hasbarat liar, so just change your name to “ilovehasbaratisrael” and tell the truth for a change. But then you wouldn’t be serving your master would you?