Commentary

nside the Israel Lobby’s New $90 Million War Chest

THE LEVER, Amos Barshad, February 3, 2024 

Internal AIPAC materials reveal huge gifts from moguls — and the strategies lobbyists used to score the cash.

In the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks on southern Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has reaped a $90 million fundraising haul, according to confidential internal documents reviewed by The Lever

Large donations flowed as the influential pro-Israel lobbying group hosted a remobilized Israeli military official who reassured potential contributors that the country’s military was doing everything possible to mitigate civilian casualties in Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, according to donor-only meetings reviewed by The Lever.

From January to September 2023, the non-public documents show that AIPAC received an average of around $12 million in monthly pledged donations. By contrast, in October alone, the documents show that AIPAC received more than triple that amount — more than $40 million in pledged donations. In the following two months, donors pledged another nearly $50 million. 

Top benefactors on a list of 2023 donors reviewed by The Leverrepresent a cross-section of the U.S. elite, including pro sports teams owners; heads of private equity firms; real estate titans; a Maryland congressman now running for the U.S. Senate; the former CEO of Victoria’s Secret; the co-founder of the dance-exercise company Zumba; and the creator of Squishmallows, the beloved children’s toy

The documents and list were provided by an internal AIPAC source. The Lever attempted to contact more than 75 of the individuals on the list of donors. Nine people confirmed to The Lever that they were AIPAC donors. Six additional individuals were listed as AIPAC board members in 2013, when the organization publicly disclosed its board. Seven other individuals on the list are publicly listed as being “involved in pro-Israel political giving” on a 2022 organization event page.

Prior to publication, The Lever showed AIPAC the information reported in this story. The organization responded with an emailed statement: “Much of the information here is either misstated, misinterpreted, inaccurate or illegitimately obtained. Since October 7, there has been a systematic effort by Israel’s detractors to harass, intimidate and silence supporters of the Jewish state. All detractors should know that their attacks only increase our determination to strengthen the US-Israel relationship.”

When The Lever asked AIPAC’s spokesperson to identify any inaccurate information, the organization did not respond. The Lever followed up three times before publication, but the spokesperson stopped responding. 

Three individuals named on the list denied being donors. That includes Leonid Radvinsky, the billionaire owner of OnlyFans, a hugely popular internet platform dominated by sex workers. According to the internal documents, Radvinsky and his wife, Katie Chudnovsky, pledged $11 million to AIPAC — the most of anyone listed. 

“I didn’t donate or pledge $11M,” Radvinsky wrote in an email, and “this appl[ies] to me / my foundation / my family.” When The Lever asked Radvinsky why AIPAC had him listed as a donor, Radvinsky replied, “I don’t know.” When The Leverasked Radvinsky to comment on internal AIPAC documentation showing a wire transfer from his wife to AIPAC, Radvinsky stopped responding.

Read more: THE LEVER