J Street ad campaign to back pro-Iran deal Congressional candidates

Liberal Jewish political action group to spend $500,000 in two swing states

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami addressing the group’s conference in Washington, March 21, 2015. (Courtesy JTA/J Street)
J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami addressing the group’s conference in Washington, March 21, 2015. (Courtesy JTA/J Street)

The liberal Jewish political action group J Street is set to launch a $500,000 ad campaign aimed at supporting Congressional candidates who supported the Iranian nuclear deal signed last year.

The campaign will run in two swing states, according to a press release sent out on behalf of the organization, without specifying which two. Details on the new initiative will be made public on Wednesday.

J Street said it seeks to “ensure House and Senate candidates who have backed the Iran nuclear deal in Congress and on the campaign trail prevail at the polls, and in doing so prove that diplomacy-first policies also make for good politics.”

The campaign will include television and internet advertising, direct mail and polling and is part of a “multi-state effort focusing on competitive Senate races in which candidates have been attacked for their support of the Iran deal.”

The organization has maintained that the nuclear deal, signed between Tehran and six world powers last year and implemented in January, is good for the United States and for Israel — whose prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been a vociferous opponent of the controversial agreement.

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami will host a briefing call-in Wednesday with former US ambassador to Russia, Israel and Jordan, Thomas R. Pickering, to provide details on the new ad campaign.

Earlier this year, an AP exposé revealed that a group named The Ploughshares Funds — identified by the White House as a key surrogate in selling the Iran nuclear deal — provided funds to news organizations and groups to push the deal, among them J Street. The lobby received $576,500 to advocate for the agreement.

“We are proud of the activities of the organization to advance the nuclear deal between the world powers and Iran, a deal that we believe is of the utmost importance for the security of the state of Israel,” J Street said at the time.

Last year, ahead of a crucial congressional vote to either ratify or block the deal, J Street undertook a comprehensive campaign worth some $5.5 million, according to the press release, to support the nuclear deal, amid lobbying by Jerusalem and other pro-Israel groups to convince Congress to block it.

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