Democratic group rescinds support for Triangle congressional candidate over contributions from pro-Israel group

State Sen. Valerie Foushee received criticism from Democrats after a campaign finance report showed she got money from a group that has also supported Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 election.

Posted Updated
State Sen. Valerie P. Foushee, D-District 23
Bryan Anderson
, WRAL state government reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina Democratic congressional candidate is receiving criticism from some members of her own party after a new campaign finance filing showed the candidate received more than $165,000 from individuals associated with a pro-Israel lobbying group.
The progressive caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party rescinded its support of state Sen. Valerie Foushee, a top candidate running against seven other Democrats for a Triangle-area seat held by retiring U.S. Rep. David Price.

The progressive caucus president, Ryan Jenkins, cited the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s support for Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election as the primary reason for dropping its endorsement of Foushee.

“No American candidate should be accepting funds from an organization that provides financial support for those seeking to destroy our democracy,” Jenkins said in a statement issued Sunday.

AIPAC works to elect Democrats and Republicans.

“She has a track record of delivering for her constituents and the insinuation that she could be bought by any interest group or donor is outrageous and offensive,” Foushee’s campaign said in a statement. “Senator Foushee is going to Washington to unify, not divide, as she has always done.”

Foushee’s campaign said the money it received was not a direct check from an AIPAC-affiliated political action committee. Rather, it was a bundle of individual contributions from supporters of AIPAC who made their donations through the pro-Israeli group.

The funds gathered between Jan. 1 and March 31 represent nearly 52% of the more than $320,000 Foushee raised during the reporting period.

Price, who has not endorsed a candidate in the race, didn’t respond to a request for comment. He has previously expressed concerns with the outsize influence of AIPAC in elections.

“It wasn’t that long ago in the Democratic caucus, including the leadership of the party, when if AIPAC said ‘jump,’ we’d say ‘How high?’” Price said in an interview with an Israeli newspaper last year, adding that he and some of his colleagues “came to be bothered by that.”

Foushee’s campaign noted some of the individual donors bundled into AIPAC’s contribution have also backed Price, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, state Attorney General Josh Stein and U.S. Reps. Deborah Ross, Kathy Manning and G.K. Butterfield.

Butterfield and Stein have endorsed Foushee’s congressional bid. Top competitors in the open congressional seat include former “American Idol” star Clay Aiken and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam.

Marshall Wittman, an AIPAC spokesperson, said in a statement that the group remains supportive of Foushee.

“[Foushee] solidly supports the U.S.-Israel relationship in stark contrast to her opponent,” Wittman said, referring to Allam, the first Muslim woman elected to public office in North Carolina.

“It is entirely consistent with progressive values to stand with our democratic ally, Israel,” Wittman’s statement continued. “Our active participation in the democratic process will not be deterred by ideological groups with highly partisan agendas. We are a bipartisan organization exclusively focused on advancing the US-Israel relationship and support candidates from both parties who are committed to that goal.”

Foushee’s campaign accused Allam’s team of fueling the story and referenced internal polling numbers showing Allam trailing by 5 percentage points.

“Our opponent is down in the polls and trying to make something out of a nothingburger,” Foushee’s campaign said.

The memo shows a 22-point lead for Foushee after respondents were given “basic biographical information” about the three candidates.

No credible, nonpartisan public opinion polls have been released about the Democratic congressional primary race.

“Nida Allam's campaign rejects corporate PAC and lobbyist donations because she knows accountability is a big deal,” Maya Handa, Allam’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “Accepting funding from an organization that endorsed Republicans who embraced insurrectionists is not ‘a nothingburger.’ This is clearly something that matters deeply to North Carolinians who want to change our politics for the better."


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