ADL files Federal Election Commission complaint against Jewish Voice for Peace’s PAC

The complaint accuses the PAC of misrepresenting itself, spending unusual sums on administrative fees, filing inconsistent reports and accepting illegal contributions

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Members of the group Jewish Voice for Peace join activists shutting down traffic in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while protesting President Joe Biden's continued support and funding for Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

The Anti-Defamation League filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Monday, alleging that a PAC affiliated with the far-left anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace has engaged in a pattern of violations of federal election law and regulation.

“Simply put, JVP [Action] PAC’s numbers do not add up,” the complaint alleges, accusing the PAC of misrepresenting itself to potential donors, spending unusual sums on administrative fees, filing inconsistent accounting reports, accepting donations above federal limits and accepting illegal in-kind donations from other arms of JVP.

It calls on the FEC, the body that oversees federal election law and campaign finance, to open an investigation into the PAC and ultimately impose penalties on JVP for the alleged violations.

The complaint accuses the PAC of misrepresenting itself as a vehicle to contribute to federal candidates, while actually using little of the funds it raises to directly or indirectly support candidates, according to its own FEC filings. The PAC has raised around $167,000 since it was launched in the 2020-2021 cycle, including $80,000 in the current election cycle.

The complaint highlights that a significant portion of the PAC’s donations goes to legal, administrative and operating costs for the PAC itself.

“For a PAC to spend such a large share of its fund on legal and compliance vendors is unusual,” the complaint alleges. “In the case of JVP PAC, it is also ironic, as the PAC has demonstrated a repeated inability to comply with the FEC’s rules governing accounting and PAC activity.”

ADL’s chief legal officer, Steve Sheinberg, told Jewish Insider that ADL regularly monitors the finances of anti-Israel groups like JVP, which he described as “a fringe group… dedicated to eliminating Israel,” and identified discrepancies in the course of that work.

“They’re holding themselves out to the public as a way to support candidates, and yet they don’t do that,” Sheinberg said. “I would like the FEC to do whatever it needs to do to bring this organization into compliance… We want this PAC to comply with the law.”

This cycle, the PAC has spent $28,000 as of March, all of it on administrative and operating fees. 

In 2022 and 2023, it spent $53,000 on various operating expenses. The largest was a $19,656 payment, listed as being for legal services, to an insurance company with no publicly listed law practice. The ADL complaint highlights that expense in particular. Other listed costs included payments to other arms of JVP for mailing lists and staff time. 

The PAC reported donating just $1,775 in cash contributions split among six House candidates. It also reported $4,176.01 in in-kind contributions to five House campaigns, consisting of staff time.

In 2021, JVP transferred $4,999.50 to the PAC, which it in turn transferred to another political group to pay for a billboard advertisement.

The ADL’s complaint further highlights that the PAC’s fundraising numbers and financial reports have shown significant and unexplained inconsistencies; for instance, reporting negative cash-on-hand balances without reporting debts or that it overdrew its accounts, as well as numerous inconsistencies between its July and October 2022 reports.

It also notes that JVP reported receiving around double the annual allowable donation amount from two donors in 2022, without refunding the excess donations.

The ADL noted in the complaint that the PAC has received four separate warning letters from the FEC, but does not appear to have taken any action in response to three of them.

The warning letters — sent in October 2022, January 2023 and August 2023 — highlight discrepancies and inconsistencies in the group’s campaign finance filings, including some of those in the ADL complaint. FEC records do not show that the PAC filed amended reports in response to any of those three letters.

A 2020 warning letter said that the group had submitted an incomplete post-general election report in 2020; the PAC subsequently submitted an amended report, which changed the start date for the filing from Oct. 15 to Oct. 1.

The complaint also alleges unlawful links between the PAC and JVP Action, another arm of the JVP organization, which the ADL alleges may constitute banned in-kind corporate contributions to the PAC.

It notes that the PAC has not reported compensating JVP Action for posting materials on its website, hosting phone banks and fundraisers or providing food and refreshments for some such events.

“The full amount of the remaining support constitutes a prohibited in-kind corporate contribution from JVP Action to JVP PAC,” the complaint alleges.

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