Appearing on CNN this morning, Candy Crowley challenged Gary Bauer, a board member of the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), to reveal the names of the donors funding ECI’s attack ads in Pennsylvania against Democrat senate candidate Joe Sestak. Bauer refused (“of course not!”), and then explained that his pro-Israel donors might face harassment if their names were known:
CROWLEY: Let me turn to you the money question. You are co- chair of one group that is putting ads on the air usually concerning people’s — candidates’ support for or against Israel…
CROWLEY: … and do not disclose the donors. Would you do that? Would you give me the name of the donors?
BAUER: No, of course not! [...] The reason this disclosure issue is so important, Candy, quite frankly, is that, on the left in this country, there has been in recent years campaigns of intimidation and outright thuggery when people have put their names on the line and promoted conservative ideas.
CROWLEY: So you’re saying that the main reason that you wouldn’t tell me the donors who are putting these ads up trying to influence the outcome of an election — you’re telling me that they are afraid that they’ll be harassed if people know they are pro-Israel?
BAUER: I think one — well, I think one of the factors is that some of these folks are Democrats, and they don’t want to alienate Democratic friends and people that they work with.
CROWLEY: But isn’t that what democracy is all about?
One of the main claims of ECI — which belatedly came out in support of a two-state solution last month after being shamed into it by the pro-Israel, pro-peace group J Street — is that Americans overwhelmingly agree with them on issues relating to Israel. Yet now one of their board members suggests that ECI cannot reveal the names of donors for fear that they would be harassed. That doesn’t really indicate much confidence in their claims, or in democracy itself.