Democracy at Work

August 11, 2006

In News

Editor’s note: For more on the pro-Israel lobby’s successful organizing activities see The Real Threat of “The Lobby”? and Behind the campaign to rescind divestment

Jonathan Allen

Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s primary run-off opponent has tapped into the pro-Israel fundraising network that helped her virtually unknown challenger Denise Majette topple McKinney and Artur Davis beat then-Rep. Earl Hilliard (D-Ala.) in a pair of hotly contested 2002 primaries in black-majority districts.

Hank Johnson collected at least $34,100 on Tuesday from individuals and political action committees (PACs) that supported Majette, Davis or both, including several pro-Israel PACs. Overall, Johnson reported receiving $63,100 on Tuesday.

The contributions were recorded in a filing with the Federal Election Commission that requires only donors of $1,000 or more to be identified, meaning Johnson’s haul could have been larger.

Seven pro-Israel PACs gave to Johnson on Tuesday: MOPAC in Michigan, Washington PAC in D.C., SUNPAC and National Action Committee PAC in Florida, CITYPAC in Chicago, Mid-Manhattan PAC in New York and Louisiana for American Security PAC. Five of the seven contributed to both Majette and Davis four years ago, according to FEC records. SUNPAC gave to Majette in 2002 and to Davis in 2004, while Mid-Manhattan PAC gave only to Davis in 2002.

Johnson’s fundraising has picked up significantly since McKinney was held to 47 percent – less than the majority needed to avoid an Aug. 8 runoff – in the primary contest held July 18. Johnson has reported $128,000 in contributions since the primary, compared with $33,300 for McKinney. Johnson’s one-day Tuesday take is nearly twice what McKinney reported in two weeks.

In her first stint in Congress, which began in 1993, McKinney angered pro-Israel donors and voters with positions that were viewed as hostile to Israel. Majette won backing from pro-Israel donors in a race that resembled the Alabama battle between Davis and Hilliard, who was also regarded as hostile to Israel. Davis and Majette had more than 200 common donors.

McKinney won back Atlanta’s 4th District seat in 2004 when Majette ran an ill-fated campaign for the Senate seat left open by the retirement of Democrat Zell Miller.