Home » Facing AIPAC Onslaught, Rep. Summer Lee Announces Record Small-Donor Fundraising Haul

Facing AIPAC Onslaught, Rep. Summer Lee Announces Record Small-Donor Fundraising Haul

Expecting an onslaught of spending from pro-Israel groups, Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Summer Lee’s campaign announced Thursday it had raised over $1 million, dwarfing typical fundraising numbers in Democratic primaries. 

Lee, a member of the progressive Squad in Congress, does not take money from corporate PACs, and more than 90 percent of the contributions were made in increments of less than $250, according to her campaign. 

Lee is one of the major targets of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee this cycle. The group plans to spend at least $100 million to oust critics of U.S. military support for Israel from Congress. 

“A Republican-funded Super PAC threatened to spend $100 million against us — and our grassroots people-powered movement has responded loud and clear,” Lee said in a statement Thursday. “I am so proud of the multigenerational, mulitracial movement we have built in Western Pennsylvania to protect and expand our democracy — it is our greatest defense against the dark money Super PACs and corporate lobbies who seek to undermine it.”

AIPAC tried and failed to recruit several challengers to run against Lee, The Intercept reported last year. Lee overcame $5 million in AIPAC spending against her 2022 campaign. 

Candidates’ 2024 fundraising disclosures are due to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday. Lee’s top challenger, Bhavini Patel, a borough council member in Edgewood, Pennsylvania, announced earlier this month that her campaign had raised more than $310,000 in the final quarter of last year. 

Patel has not said whether AIPAC recruited her to challenge Lee, but her campaign is in touch with the group, according to a source familiar with the race. (In response to a request for comment, Patel’s campaign pointed to the fundraising numbers announced earlier this month.)

Lee’s fundraising news comes a week after she won an endorsement from the top three Democrats in the House leadership, including Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., a major ally and recipient of money from AIPAC

With Israel’s war in Gaza still raging, AIPAC and other major Republican and Democratic donors have pledged to try to oust Lee and other progressive members of the Squad over their criticism of U.S. military support for Israel. 

When asked about AIPAC’s efforts, Jeffries has not criticized AIPAC by name but said Democrats would continue to back their incumbents.

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January 2024