IRS responds to AIPAC lobbying junkets to Israel complaints

Oct 25, 2012, 12:44 ET from Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy:

On September 10 the IRS responded to a mass letter-writing campaign alleging Israel trips organized by an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) front organization were illegal.  Citizen letters to the IRS Tax Exempt Organization commissioner copied to both the Attorney General and US Attorney for the District of Columbia claimed:

"…Ever since the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) emerged from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1951, it has clashed with U.S. law enforcement. AIPAC and its predecessors have been investigated for election law violations, secretly laundering overseas funding into U.S. public relations and lobbying activities, use of tax-deductible donations to lobby, improper acquisition and circulation of classified U.S. government information, and Foreign Agent Registration Act violations…

…AIPAC's latest scheme is to use its tax-exempt alter ego, the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), to channel tax-deductible funds into its non-exempt lobbying activities. Please investigate and shut down future AIPAC-AIEF funded junkets to Israel! My member of Congress was elected to work for my neighbors and me, not a foreign country's lobby…"

During the 2011 summer recess more than 80 members of Congress were flown to Israel in a massive lobbying junket according to a participant list compiled by Legistorm. IRmep's Center for Policy and Law Enforcement filed a comprehensive criminal complaint (PDF) about AIEF on September 9, 2011. It detailed how AIPAC skirted reform laws passed in 2007 intended to prevent lobbies from funding such travel by using the AIEF as a slush fund. The AIEF has no employees and is housed within AIPAC's Washington, DC headquarters. Although AIEF claims to be an educational organization, it has never made educational material directly available to the public or academic peer reviewers.

On September 10, 2012 the IRS mailed identical responses (PDF) to petitioners stating "This letter responds to your letter …concerning alleged lobbying activities by the AIPAC and/or the AIEF…I can tell you that we maintain an ongoing examination program to ensure exempt organizations continue to meet the requirements for tax-exempt status."

"These tepid IRS promises will not stand," claimed Director Grant F. Smith as IRmep's Center for Policy and Law Enforcement filed a second October 24 complaint (PDF) substantiating how AIEF violated the original terms of its 1989 application for tax exempt status. IRmep has obtained AIEF's application from the IRS in the complaint process.

SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy