Pro-Israel AIPAC Creates Group to Lobby Against the Iran Deal

By Julie Hirschfield Davis

The New York Times

July 17, 2015

The pro-Israel group Aipac has formed a tax-exempt lobbying group to oppose the nuclear deal reached this week with Iran.

Aipac, an acronym for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has been a vocal critic of President Obama’s policies toward Israel and his negotiations with Iran. The new group, Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, was formed with the sole mission of educating the public “about the dangers of the proposed Iran deal,” said Patrick Dorton, a spokesman.

“This will be a sizable and significant national campaign on the flaws in the Iran deal,” Mr. Dorton said.

A person who had been briefed on the plan said the group planned to spend upward of $20 million on the effort. Another person familiar with the campaign said advertising was planned in 30 to 40 states. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal details of the campaign.

The new group is starting up as Mr. Obama and the White House are mounting a major push to sell the accord on Capitol Hill, where members of Congress will have 60 days to review it and hold an up-or-down vote once it is submitted. Most Republicans have declared their opposition and some Democrats have voiced skepticism, raising the possibility that Congress could vote to reject the deal and that Mr. Obama might not have enough votes to sustain a veto of a disapproval resolution.

While Mr. Dorton said the lobbying effort would target members of both parties, Democrats would be a focal point.

“Democrats should be especially concerned, because the deal increases the chances of war, will spur a nuclear arms race and rewards an Iran with a horrific human rights record,” Mr. Dorton said.

The group’s advisory committee includes several former Democratic members of Congress, including former Senators Evan Bayh of Indiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, and former Representative Shelley Berkley of Nevada, according to its website.

It is also tapping several prominent Democratic operatives, including the pollster Mark S. Mellman, the media consultant Mark Putnam, and the digital firm Trilogy Interactive, said a person familiar with the campaign, who would detail its key players only on the condition of anonymity.