Letter: It’s time to get money out of politics

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The Foreign Agents Registration Act is a law that requires all foreign countries/agents engaged in influence-peddling our government to register with the Department of Justice. But many are unaware this law exists, since a majority of our representatives in Congress receive donations from several pro-Israel groups, including from one of the most influential pro-Israel lobby groups, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Turns out that AIPAC, which is not registered as a foreign agent with the DOJ, has been able to thwart FARA’s oversight by identifying itself as an “American organization lobbying for Americans.” In essence, this means that AIPAC can legally engage in lobbying and, in some cases, can donate directly to campaigns without any oversight from the DOJ.

And that influence hits close to home. U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis has received $270,656 and U.S. Sen. Ted Budd has received $159,035 from pro-Israel groups, according to opensecrets.org.

On Feb. 6, the House voted on the H.R. 7217 bill seeking $17.6 billion in more aid to Israel. While the vote was 250 in favor and 180 against, the House used a procedure that required two-thirds support, so it didn’t pass.

Congressman Chuck Edwards, R-11th District, is a member of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, one of the most influential committees because its job is to, along with the Senate, control the country’s purse strings. Edwards voted yes for the bill.

No surprise there, since Edwards has received over $33,000 during his first term from pro-Israel groups, including $10,000 from AIPAC. Despite the measure failing, Edwards promised that he was already planning on submitting a bill that only required a simple majority.

It is incumbent upon those in power to analyze carefully whether or not they are shaping policy that is in the best interests of the country. This may mean giving up unyielding support to any foreign country that wields such immense pressure and influence over U.S. policy as Israel does. A country that, along with U.S. support, is engaged in a plausible genocide.

Money talks. While some claim they support Israel on ideological grounds, money makes it more difficult to evaluate what is truly motivating one’s motives and actions. For the sake of our facade of a democracy, it is long past time to get money out of politics.

— Noreen Nickolas


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5 thoughts on “Letter: It’s time to get money out of politics

  1. Voirdire

    “It’s time to get money out of politics” ….good luck with that. Not happening, nor has there ever been such a time. Time to get real is probably the best we can attempt …and that’s probably asking the impossible basically. sigh.

  2. indy499

    Those $ cited are so laughably small, esp in a contested senate campaign that Nickolas true feelings are revealed

    • Noreen Nickolas

      What is revealing to me is that you would gauge hundreds of thousands of dollars in any context as laughable. And, yes, my true feelings were unapologetically apparent.

  3. SpareChange

    Let’s be honest about the writer’s real intents and purposes. Under the grandiose banner of, “getting money out of politics,” only one example and one source of money is mentioned (i.e., “pro-Israel groups”). Beyond that, there is no broader attempt by the author to explain what, “getting money out of politics” really means, what it might look like, how it might impact political advocacy of all types, or how it might be accomplished.

    Absent any engagement with these broader questions, one can only conclude that what the author really objects to is any political contributions which might promote ends that are contrary to her own political positions and preferences. So, while we should always consider how to best improve upon the many flaws and shortcomings of the U.S. political system (with the under-regulated flow of money certainly being one of them), let’s also underscore the importance of intellectual and political honesty in our discourse — something which the above letter is seriously lacking.

    • Noreen Nickolas

      The title I suggested for the letter was “Is Taking AIPAC Money In The US’ Best Interests? Since my focus from the beginning is on AIPAC and pro-Israel groups I think I made my intent very clear. AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobby groups wield extraordinary influence over US policy and the fact that our representatives are taking money from AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups helps facilitate that. Obviously, the overarching “taking money out of politics” issue would help eliminate influence-peddling in all areas, but with a plausible genocide being committed and the imminent threat of a regional war at Israel’s behest looming, my focus, honestly, is on the Israel lobby.

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