85. PACs corrupt process

Political action committees, or PACs, are a source of millions of dollars in campaign funds. Their corrupting influence subverts the American democratic process.

The PAC system was created in the mid-1970s to bring into the light the underground cash that interest groups had been pumping into politics. The idea was sound. By law, an individual can only contribute $1,000 to a candidate in each election, whether it is a primary or a general election for a total of $2,000. A PAC can only contribute $5,000 to a candidate in each election for a total of $10,000 in each election cycle.

This was too good to be true. The pro-Israeli lobby found a way to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. Scores of like-minded PACs were established to "contribute" money to members of the House and the Senate solely on the basis of how they vote on Middle East matters, taking their cues from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). These pro-Israeli PACs are not interested in local issues like other interest groups, but in lobbying Congress to send as much money as possible to another country, Israel. [According to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 54 pro-Israeli PACs, as of June 30, have given, in this election cycle, more than $2.5 million to 272 candidates. This is an excellent investment since last year alone Congress spent $5.6 billion of tax-payers' money on Israel.]

October 26, 1992