United Democracy Project

Political leanings: Nonpartisan

2020 total spending: N/A

United Democracy Project is a nonpartisan super PAC created to advocate for political organizations and candidates that support the United States’ partnership with Israel. The super PAC “works to help elect candidates that share our vision and will be strong supporters of the U.S.-Israel relationship in Congress,” according to its website.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a lobbying group, announced its plans to launch a political action committee and a super PAC ahead of the 2022 election cycle in December 2021. The PAC would later be named AIPAC PAC, which has become the biggest pro-Israel PAC in the United States, and the super PAC would become the United Democracy Project. Initially, the super PAC’s “About Us” statement did not include any mention of Israel or anything about pro-Israel lobbying, but it has since been changed.

As of June 30, United Democracy Project has raised almost $27.6 million.

The group’s largest contributor is its creator, AIPAC, which donated $8.5 million. Jan Koum, the co-founder and former CEO of WhatsApp, donated $2 million. These UDP donors contributed $1 million each: Jonathon S. Jacobson, the non-executive chairman and founding member of HighSage Ventures; Paul Singer, the founder of Elliott Management; Bernard Marcus, the co-founder of The Home Depot; and Haim Saban, the co-founder of Fox Family Worldwide who established Saban Films and Saban Capital Group. As a super PAC, UDP can accept unlimited donations, but it must disclose its donors. It cannot fund candidates directly, but it can spend unlimited amounts expressly advocating for or against federal candidates — spending the Federal Election Commission defines as “independent expenditures.”

United Democracy Project has spent nearly $24.3 million, as of Aug. 2, on independent expenditures during the 2022 election cycle, with all of it being spent for or against targeted Democratic candidates. As of early August, UDP was the second-highest spender among outside groups in the primary elections, behind the conservative Club for Growth Action. UDP has been the highest spender in the Democratic primaries.

United Democracy Project has spent the most to help defeat former Rep. Donna Edwards in the July 19 Democratic primary in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District. UDP spent $4.26 million against Edwards and $1.7 million for the winning candidate, Glenn Ivey, a former county prosecutor. 

The group also spent heavily in two House primaries in Michigan. In the state’s 11th Congressional District, UDP spent $3.88 million supporting Haley Stevens and $342,000 against Andy Levin, and in the 13th Congressional District, UDP spent $2.74 million in support of Adam Hollier and $1.43 million opposing Shri Thanedar. Stevens won the primary, but Hollier lost his race to Thanedar.

UDP was active in two Democratic primaries in North Carolina, spending $2.13 million supporting Valerie Foushee in the state’s 4th District, and $2.1 million backing Donald Davis and $335,000 against Erica Smith in the state’s 1st District. UDP’s candidates won those primaries. 

In Pennsylvania’s 12th District, UDP’s preferred candidate, Steve Irwin, lost the May 17 Democratic primary. The group had spent $2 million against Summer Lee, who won, and $660,000 for Irwin. 

In Texas, UDP spent $423,000 for Henry Cuellar and $1.43 million against Jessica Cisneros in the Democratic primary in the state’s 28th Congressional District. Cuellar won the Democratic nomination in a run-off election on May 24.

“There was rising concern in the pro-Israel community about candidates for Congress who held radical anti-Israel views,” UDP spokesman Patrick Dorton told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in July. “What we’re trying to do is build the broadest bipartisan pro-Israel coalition in Congress possible.”

The news organization reported that “Dorton did not commit UDP to backing its Democratic primary winners in the general election against Republicans who might be equally or even more aligned with AIPAC’s agenda.”

We reached out to UDP but have not received a response.

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