Home  Principles & Statements  Positions of the ACJ  Articles  DonationsAbout Us  Contact Us  Links                                         

Court Ruling May Force AIPAC To Register With the FEC and Disclose Contributors

Allan Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
January-February 1997

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled by a 9-2 vote in December that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was mistaken when it interpreted the law to say that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was not a political action committee. The court reversed the FEC’s dismissal in 1992 of a complaint filed against AIPAC by six former government officials, including former Ambassadors Andrew Killgore and James Akins and former Rep. Paul Findlay (R-IL), who charged that AIPAC helped Rep. Richard Durbin (D-IL) defeat him in 1982.  

"Given our resolution of the case, the factual findings already made by the FEC indicate that AIPAC should be classified as a political committee," Judge Laurence Silberman wrote for the majority. A political committee cannot accept corporate contributions and must disclose its contributors and its expenditures. AIPAC currently accepts corporate contributions and it does not disclose who its donors are or how it spends its money.  

One of the former government officials who was suing the FEC to get it to take action against AIPAC, Richard Curtiss, said: "This decision is the beginning of the end to the stranglehold that the Israeli lobby has had on U.S. Middle East policy. Now AIPAC will be held to the same standard that less powerful political lobbies must meet."  

Former Rep. Findlay stated that he was "Delighted" by the decision and told The Forward (Dec. 13, 1996): "I hope that the FEC will take the look that has been directed and find that AIPAC is a political organization."  

Assessing the meaning of the court decision, The Forward notes that, ". . . it is no sure thing that the decision in Akins v. FEC will force AIPAC to register as a political committee. The court’s decision leaves open the possibility that ‘the FEC might settle with AIPAC on terms that did not require disclosure.’ The court also said, however, that if that happened, the anti-AIPAC forces could then sue for disclosure. The decision itself does not compel AIPAC to register as apolitical committee. Instead, the court told the FEC to take further action on the case that is consistent with its decision."  

< return to article list
© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.