Activist group files ethics complaint against AIPAC over congressional Israel trips

Antiwar activist group Codepink has filed a claim with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) arguing that yearly trips to Israel for freshman lawmakers hosted by the lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) are unconstitutional.

In a complaint, the activists claim that AIPAC’s use of a nonprofit closely tied to the group’s organizational structure violates laws prohibiting lobbying groups from gifting personal travel to members of Congress.

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AIPAC’s nonprofit arm, the American-Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), hosts annual Israel trips that critics argue present the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an unfavorable light for Palestinians.

“These congresspeople are our public officials who are being taken by lobbyists to a foreign country for the purpose of increasing support for Israel — a country that already receives $3.8 billion a year of our tax dollars,” the group’s co-director Medea Benjamin said in a press release.

“When we try to get AIPAC, AIEF, or even members of the Congress to tell us who is on the trip or what the itinerary is, we are denied this information. This devious exploitation of the law and this lack of transparency are unacceptable and we call on the Office of Congressional Ethics to take action,” the group continued.

Another spokesperson for the group characterized AIPAC’s role as “whitewash[ing] Israel’s human rights violations and continu[ing] increasing amounts of unchecked U.S. financial support and diplomatic immunity for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.”

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AIPAC representatives did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

Freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibNew York Times demotes editor over controversial tweets House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man’s death Trump tells advisers Omar and Tlaib shouldn’t be allowed to enter Israel: report MORE (D-Mich.) declined to go on the AIPAC trip upon entering Congress this year, instead planning to host her own congressional visit to the West Bank.

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