EXCLUSIVE: Emergency Committee for Israel Spends Big on Rep. Cotton

by Eli Clifton

The people who helped lay the groundwork for the war in Iraq have a favorite candidate for today’s midterm election, and that candidate is Rep. Tom Cotton (R) from Arkansas’ 4th congressional district, who is challenging Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) for his Senate seat.

According to newly released FEC filings, Cotton received $960,250 in supportive campaign advertising in the last month from the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), a right-wing group headed by the neoconservative pundit, Bill Kristol, who infamously predicted that the Iraq war would last two months. At its inception, the ECI was based out of the same Washington office as the Committee of the Liberation of Iraq, a pressure group that lobbied for the 2003 invasion.

The credibility of Kristol and his neoconservative colleagues was seriously put into question after it was revealed that the war they lobbied for since the time of the Clinton administration failed to turn up weapons of mass destruction.

Yet Cotton has received the endorsement of the neoconservative fringe of the Republican Party, earning him a gushing profile from Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin before he even began his term as a freshman congressman in January of last year.

In that profile, Cotton made clear that he supported the hawkish foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration, offering a hodge-podge of buzzwords to bolster his neoconservative credentials with the Post’s “Right Turn” columnist. Cotton, as reported by Rubin, said:

What I used to say in the campaign was, ‘You may be tired of war, but war is not tired of you.’ There are evil people in the world who would do evil things.” Because of questions about U.S. resolve, he pointed out, “Certain Middle East countries are hedging and edging closer to Iran.” He said, “It’s important to remind the American people why we’re still engaged, [to] still maintain force projection, stand with Israel … because it is not something they experience firsthand. They experience the economy, but they don’t experience Gaza or Libya or Afghanistan.”

Cotton’s hawkishness even led him to act ahead of his own party when he tried to introduce an amendment to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013, which would “automatically” levy sentences of up to 20 years on violators of US sanctions against Iran.

That punishment would have extended to “a spouse and any relative, to the third degree” of the sanctions violator, including, Cotton clarified, “parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids.” Cotton explained during a markup hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that “there would be no investigation” because “if the prime malefactor of the family is identified as on the list for sanctions, then everyone within their family would automatically come within the sanctions regime as well.”

“It’d be very hard to demonstrate and investigate to conclusive proof,” he said.

The amendment was withdrawn after members of the committee expressed concern that it violated the Fifth Amendment, which protects American citizens against unfair treatment in legal processes and guarantees defendants due process rights. Yet Cotton has promised that he is “committed to the policy” and is “working with allies to include the amendment at other committees of jurisdiction in the Senate.”

Cotton’s proposal of an amendment that would violate the Fifth Amendment and his promise to Americans that “war is not tired of you” has apparently won him the financial support of hawkish advocacy groups like the Emergency Committee for Israel. And, in a rare turn for the ECI’s long history of backing hawkish but losing campaigns, they may be supporting a front-runner. Cotton is leading by 7-points in the latest polls. By the end of today he may be the new face of the neoconservative foreign policy establishment in the Senate.

Photo: Rep. Tom Cotton speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Credit: Gage Skidmore

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. Representative Tom Cotton, based on his Bio, clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals and “rehearsed” law afore enrolling in the US Army as an infantry officer. He expended almost five years on active duty, deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He is honored by military decorations including the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Ranger tab. These are commendable achievements.

    Yet, Rep. Cotton has sold himself for nearly one million dollar. Imagine the man was not Harvard Law School graduate. The man certainly is “clever”, yet not intelligent. Why?

    The confounding expenses of the last Iraq war were colossal: nearly 4,500 American lives, more than 32,000 injured, 500,000 brave veterans suffering from mental ailments with 22 committing suicide daily, $2 trillion for the total war, $25 billion to train the Iraqi Army, $60 billion for the supposed rebuilding of Iraq, and an Iraqi fatality toll of over a million with half the population of Iraq traumatized. Further, this nation must rightly pay six trillion dollars of taxes to support the veterans for a generation! What were the results? After nine years, our “client” state in Iraq sadly collapsed totally.

    Does the Harvard educated man know sthese facts, still supporting the war criminal Prime Minister? As the famous proverbs counsels, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. The Representative has been fooled by a war criminal!

  2. To the above comment by Akbar, “every man has a price, especially politicians. Perhaps he and the others who believe like him, would better serve the I.D.F. or better yet, if he actually believes that nonsense about incarcerating/making the whole family pay for someone in the family, with no recourse-proof, then he’s not fit to represent the people from his state nor the people of the U.S.

  3. I have a further comment, why do I receive two (2) postings? I click the E-mail to read, then after I’ve read it, posted a comment, I have to repeat as it’s as if I hadn’t already. After the heading on the inbox, there is a # 2, as sometimes happens when others comment and they follow. This has been going on for some time now, which is becoming a bothersome exercise, as well as my address/name coming and going. Thank you, Norman

Comments are closed.