🎧 LEVER TIME: Tales From The Crypto

Meet The Saudi Lobbyist Targeting John Fetterman

Oct 4, 2022 Andrew Perez
A lobbyist-led super PAC just went on the air with attacks on Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman.
Meet The Saudi Lobbyist Targeting John Fetterman
Pa. Lt. Gov. and senatorial candidate John Fetterman. (AP Photo/Rebecca Droke)

A dark-money-funded super PAC helmed by a registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship is airing attack ads targeting Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman in the closing stretch of the election.

The Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, which is led by a consortium of corporate and foreign government lobbyists,  announced a $1.5 million ad buy against Fetterman on Tuesday. The group’s chairman is Norm Coleman, a former Republican senator from Minnesota who is now lobbying for the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, as well as corporate clients.

The RJC Victory Fund is the latest corporate front group to try to keep the progressive Fetterman out of the Senate. Earlier this year, a health insurance industry consultant spearheaded an unsuccessful super PAC effort to stop Fetterman in the Democratic primary. This time, the goal is to help Republicans take back control of the Senate and undermine President Joe Biden, who recently confronted Saudi Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The latest ad blitz attacks Fetterman for brandishing a gun at an unarmed Black jogger in 2013 when he was the mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania. The ads follow a similar ad campaign from a pro-Oz super PAC that has been bankrolled by his father-in-law.

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It’s not clear who is financing the RJC Victory Fund’s new ad campaign. The group reported only having $136,000 cash on hand at the end of June. One of the super PAC’s top donors this year is its sister organization, the Republican Jewish Coalition, which is a dark money nonprofit that is not required to publicly reveal its donors.

While the Republican Jewish Coalition is ostensibly a pro-Israel conservative group, its leadership and board of directors is packed with corporate and foreign lobbyists.

The organization’s chairman, Coleman, lobbies for the government of Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest spenders in Washington. (In July, Oz criticized Biden for traveling to meet with Saudi leaders and “begging them for more oil.”)

Coleman additionally lobbies for the pharmaceutical firm Alvogen, telecom giant T-Mobile, electric and gas utility Xcel Energy, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a Big Tech front group that has spent tens of millions on deceptive ads to torpedo landmark antitrust legislation in Congress.

Coleman, a senior counsel at the lobbying firm Hogan Lovells, is also chairman of the American Action Network, a dark money group that helps elect GOP lawmakers to the House of Representatives.

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Another Republican Jewish Coalition board member, Jeff Miller, lobbies for a range of corporate interests, including the powerful drug lobby Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA); drugmaker Amgen; the private equity giant Blackstone Group; private prison firm CoreCivic, oil and gas company Occidental Petroleum, electric utilities like FirstEnergy, Southern Company, and Pacific Gas & Electric; computer and phone company Apple; and Elon Musk's space company, SpaceX.

Miller, who runs the lobbying firm Miller Strategies, was previously a fundraiser for former President Donald Trump.

Other Republican Jewish Coalition board members include Ari Fleischer, a former spokesperson for President George W. Bush who is working as a communications consultant for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour, as well as Wayne Berman, who serves as the global head of government affairs at Blackstone, the private equity firm.

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