AIPAC-Tied DMFI Raises More From Private Equity Execs

Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) super PAC brought in most of the funding in its new FEC report from a handful of private equity executives and investment industry donors.

AIPAC-Tied DMFI Raises More From Private Equity Execs
Westchester County Executive George Latimer, one of the U.S. House candidates endorsed by Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) PAC, speaks in 2022 in New York. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Daybase)

Pro-Israel super PACs have been unloading millions of dollars in Democratic primaries this year, attacking candidates they view as voicing criticism of Israel’s war in Gaza.

Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), a super PAC closely tied to lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), raised $418,000 from Feb. 15 through March 31, according to a disclosure filed today with the Federal Election Commission. DMFI headed into April with almost $3 million cash on hand.

The super PAC’s largest donation during the period came from Ann Pava of Connecticut, who gave $131,000 and listed her occupation to the FEC as not employed. Pava is the president of Micah Philanthropies, which is chaired by her husband Jeremy Pava, the executive chairman of real estate investment firm Aspen Square Management.

In both 2021 and 2022, Micah Philanthropies donated $75,000 to the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), according to its tax returns. The nonprofit AIEF was founded by AIPAC and shares its office address in Washington, D.C. The AIPAC affiliate spends tens of millions of dollars annually in organizing all-expenses-paid trips to Israel for members of Congress.

Several of DMFI’s largest donors since mid-February were private equity firm executives and employees: David Randolph Peeler, senior advisor at Berkshire Partners, gave $100,000; Norm Alpert, co-founder of Vestar Capital Partners, gave $20,000; and Scott M. Sperling, co-CEO of Thomas H. Lee Partners, gave $15,000.

Jeffrey Ullman, a professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford University, gave $36,000 during the period. Lyor Cohen, the global head of music at YouTube, gave $10,000 to DMFI in March.

So far this election cycle, DMFI has spent more than $200,000 backing its chosen Democratic candidates for the U.S. House. In March, DMFI hopped into an Illinois House Democratic primary and spent more than $40,000 on digital ads backing Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.), who was facing criticism from his challenger, human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid, for not backing a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Earlier this month, DMFI PAC endorsed the challengers to two House progressives who have criticized Israel’s war in Gaza: Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who is taking on Rep. Jamaal Bowman in New York; and St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell, who is running against Rep. Cori Bush in Missouri. 

Bowman told Politico last week that he is aligned on the issue with longtime ally of Israel Sen. Chuck Schumer, who slammed the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a floor speech. Bush’s campaign, like Bowman’s, pointed out to Politico that many donors to pro-Israel groups like AIPAC’s United Democracy Project (UDP) have histories of giving to Republicans.

DMFI’s website prominently features photos of President Biden and House Democratic leaders like former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but not all of its latest donors give strictly to the Democratic side of the aisle. Sperling, of Boston-headquartered THL Partners, made two $25,000 donations this cycle to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), according to FEC records. He also contributed $26,400 to the Republican presidential campaign of Nikki Haley in December. Similarly, Linda Keston of California, who made an earmarked contribution of $5,000 to DMFI PAC in February, made two $50 donations to Haley in December.