Lobbying Group for Iran Deal Hosts Duckworth Fundraiser
By Alana Goodman
April 18, 2016
The left-leaning Middle East activist group J Street, one
of the key groups that lobbied in favor of the Obama administration’s nuclear
deal with Iran, hosted a fundraiser for the Senate campaign of Rep. Tammy
Duckworth (D., Ill.) in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.
Duckworth is running against Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, a
critic of the nuclear deal and architect of the U.S. sanctions against Iran. The
fundraiser was held at La Tasca in Washington, D.C. and seats topped out at
$5,400 per plate, according to the invitation.
The fundraiser is part of a concerted effort by J Street to
target lawmakers who opposed the Iran deal, particularly pro-Israel stalwarts
like Kirk. The group announced in January that it would focus on defeating Kirk
and Sen. Ron Johnson in 2016, two of the more vulnerable senators up for
Although J Street describes itself as a “pro-Israel,
pro-peace” organization, it has sought to unseat many of Israel’s top
supporters on Capitol Hill and financed the campaigns of the Jewish state’s
In past elections, J Street targeted pro-Israel legislators
such as former Reps. Joe Walsh (R., Ill.) and Allen West (R., Fla.). The group
previously helped bankroll campaigns for many signatories of the 2010 “Gaza
54” letter, a congressional letter that criticized Israel’s military
response to Hamas rocket-fire.
Although J Street enjoys a close relationship with the
Obama White House, its vocal opposition to Israel’s defensive military action
and support for the Iran nuclear deal has also alienated many Democrats. A
number of prominent lawmakers asked J Street to remove their names from the
group’s conference host committee in 2009, including Democratic Sens. Chuck
Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand.
Kirk’s campaign criticized Duckworth on Monday for
accepting money from J Street and tied her support for the “dangerous”
nuclear deal to her involvement with special interest groups.
“After Tammy Duckworth voted in favor of the dangerous
Iran Nuclear Agreement, J Street pledged to raise millions to support her
campaign and launch attacks on her opponent Senator Kirk,” Kevin Artl, Kirk
for Senate campaign manager, said. “Rep. Duckworth continues to demonstrate
that her voting record is shaped by special interest groups and political