The Republican Jewish Coalition is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that is connected to some of the most powerful GOP officials and has bolstered the party as MAGA leaders move the party farther to the right.
Matthew Brooks has served as the chief executive officer for the Republican Jewish Coalition since 1990 and is also the RJC’s spokesperson. In addition to his roles at the RJC, Brooks serves as the executive director for the Jewish Policy Center. At the start of Brooks’ political career, he managed Jack Kemp’s presidential campaign in New England.
Under Brooks’ leadership, the Republican Jewish Coalition’s super PAC gave $2 million to support Dr. Mehmet Oz’s 2022 Senate campaign based on his support for Israel, while Oz touted himself as “100 percent pro-life” and an advocate for “a secure border with a barrier, whether that is a physical wall or one patrolled by technological advances.” Oz has been largely denounced by the medical community for giving reckless medical advice and profiting off of products he claimed to be miracle cures. According to a 2014 British Medical Journal study, out of the 80 recommendations from Oz’s television show that researchers analyzed, fewer than half were backed by evidence.
Norm Coleman has served as the national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition since 2017. The Intercept described him as “one of the Republican Party’s biggest fundraisers.” One of Coleman’s biggest achievements was founding the influential Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC, where he currently serves as board chair.
Coleman is also the chair of the dark money group the American Action Network, which has embraced the fringes of the political right over the years, including the far-right House Freedom Caucus and former President Donald Trump.
Prior to founding the Congressional Leadership Fund and leading the American Action Network, Coleman was a U.S. Senator for Minnesota from 2002 to 2009.
Coleman’s originally opposed Donald Trump’s candidacy for president, stating, “Trump is a bigot, a misogynist, a fraud, a bully, and a con artist, in that order.” However, once Trump became president and relocated the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and withdrew the U.S. from UNESCO, Coleman flipped to support him.
Alex Siegel has worked at the Republican Jewish Coalition since 2013, serving as the deputy executive director since 2016. Prior to that, he was the RJC’s national grassroots director. Siegel began his political career with internships at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing advocacy group funded by the Kochs that uses its extensive network and mass media to promote libertarian ideals. Siegel also interned with the libertarian think tank, the Leadership Institute.
Republican Jewish Coalition board member Gabriel Groisman previously served in the municipal government of Bal Harbour, Florida, serving as a city council member before serving as mayor from 2016 to 2022.
While the Republican Jewish Coalition proclaims to be in favor of small government, Groisman successfully advanced a law imposing restrictions on businesses that disinvested from Israeli companies based on human rights concerns for Palestinians.
Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson was the board chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Adelson was the chairman and owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corp, which owns and operates businesses including the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino.
The Adelsons have been mega-donors to the Republican Party for decades and were some of Trump’s biggest financial backers in 2016 and 2020.
In 2007, Sheldon and his wife, Miriam Adelson, founded the Adelson Family Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that funds anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ organizations.
The Republican Jewish Coalition staunchly opposes government regulations, social welfare programs, and taxes. The group advocates for minimizing taxes and government regulations, which it calls “an impediment to expansion” for businesses.
Notably, the RJC’s largest benefactor was the late billionaire casino mogul and longtime RJC board member Sheldon Adelson. When Adelson died in 2021, RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said that in addition to Adelson’s generosity toward the organization, “much of the RJC’s innovation and impact over the last few years were made possible by his vision and leadership.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition pushed Congress and the Trump administration to approve the permit to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline, a move that environmental and Indigenous groups and activists heavily criticized. The organization has since criticized President Joe Biden for blocking the development of the dangerous pipeline.
The Republican Jewish Coalition claims to “respect differences of opinion” on issues such as abortion rights, climate change, LGBTQ rights, and gun regulation. The group says that “the RJC membership and Board of Directors are as divided as the rest of America on these issues.” However, a closer inspection of the candidates endorsed by the RJC shows that the organization overwhelmingly supports candidates that have ultraconservative stances on these issues. On the issue of LGBTQ rights, the RJC’s endorsees express a particular disdain for the trans community and the majority of them have voted against legislation that would expand protections from discrimination for the LGBTQ community.
Despite the RJC’s insistence that its membership includes diverse ideologies on issues such as abortion, six of the seven Senate candidates the RJC endorsed in 2022 strongly opposed abortion, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) being the one exception.
Zero of the RJC’s 25 House endorsees support full access to abortion and the majority of them support making all abortions illegal with very few and narrow exceptions, Most of the RJC’s candidates celebrated the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The Republican Jewish Coalition supports public school vouchers and “school choice,” a concept that originally developed as a reactionary effort to enshrine racial segregation and abolish public schools. The RJC has expressed support for federal legislation the Student Empowerment Act, the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education Act, and the Education Opportunities Act — all of which would ultimately increase inequity despite their optimistic names.
Like other conservative groups, the RJC considers “school choice” and school voucher programs as vital for protecting educational opportunities and “student empowerment” among America’s children. However, many studies, including one from 2022 covered by The Washington Post, found that states which pass school choice legislation saw a degradation in the public school systems. According to the report, “more than half of states with vouchers have at least one program that pays out more than 50 percent of what would have been spent to educate the child in a public school.” In New Hampshire, for example, the public school system lost more than $8 million in a matter of months after the state instituted an education savings account program to funnel public funding to students’ private education.
The Republican Jewish Coalition has also given a platform to MAGA Republicans to spread the right-wing’s manufactured hysteria over critical race theory supposedly being taught in public schools. The Washington Post characterizes the growing anti-critical race theory movement as a “conservative backlash” to efforts to increase anti-racism initiatives in education.
At the RJC’s annual leadership meeting in November 2021, Trump’s former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, spoke on a panel with former White House Press Secretary and RJC board member Ari Fleischer, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, and former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway. Part of their discussion included Republicans’ victories in recent local elections, where the right-wing successfully weaponized the idea of “parental choice” to fearmonger about critical race theory, spread anti-trans rhetoric, and oppose mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The RJC’s avenues of influence include annual leadership conferences that serve as a convener for powerful GOP officials, pressuring party leaders to manipulate committee assignments in Republicans’ favor, adding revolving door insiders as board members who have previously or will go on to hold high-level government positions, running smear campaigns against nominees appointed by Democrats, and lobbying on foreign policy and other issues. In addition to its influence on legislators and policy, the RJC boasted that in the 2020 elections, “every Republican who flipped a Democratic-held district was backed by the RJC PAC.”
The RJC’s influence in Washington rose during the George W. Bush administration following Bush’s appearance at the RJC’s 20th-anniversary event in 2005, allowing the group to rise to “the forefront of efforts within the Jewish community to work closely with a GOP White House and U.S. Congress.” The RJC describes its legislative affairs program as “highly successful,” and also runs regional outreach programs, which it uses to convey the GOP platform to the Jewish community, particularly on issues relating to Israel, national security, and economic policy. Between 2000 and 2005, the group expanded its grassroots base from six chapters to 41 chapters.
The Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership conference is a meeting ground for the most powerful conservative lawmakers and strategists. The RJC boasts that its annual conference “has become a key stop on the road to the White House for aspiring GOP presidential candidates.” Since the Trump administration began, the RJC has welcomed many MAGA-world figures as speakers, including former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and former Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also spoke at the RJC’s 2022 conference in Las Vegas.
The Republican Jewish Coalition is a longstanding supporter of Israel and has opposed a warming of relations with Iran, including the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The group also opposed Biden re-entering the U.S. into the UN Human Rights Council and World Health Organization in 2021.
In 2018, the RJC advocated for the Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act, which was one piece of the Trump administration’s plan to end all assistance to the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is a critical source of support for Palestinian refugees. The Taylor Force Martyr Act was introduced by ultraconservative Senators including Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and was signed into law by Trump. The Republican Jewish Coalition said it helped “gather support for the original Taylor Force Act and encouraged Senators to co-sponsor the current bill,” and RJC National Chairman Norm Coleman applauded Cotton for introducing the legislation.
At least one legislator publicly referenced the RJC’s position on the Iran Sanctions Preservation Act in 2021. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) noted in a press release about the act’s introduction that “the legislation is supported by the Republican Jewish Coalition.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition has repeatedly stated that it “look[s] forward to continuing our close work with Speaker McCarthy and the new Republican majority in the 118th Congress.”
In January 2023, RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks admonished the Republicans who did not support Rep. Kevin McCarthy for the House Speakership, calling them “infidels” who were causing discord within the party. However, after those same “infidel” MAGA Republicans forced McCarthy to make huge concessions to win Speaker of the House in January 2023, the RJC joined dozens of other conservative and libertarian groups in celebrating McCarthy’s — and the far-right’s — win.
Less than a month into the 118th Congress, House Republicans delivered the RJC a major victory in its longtime goal of removing Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from her committee assignment. Many considered the move to be a politically-motivated backlash against Democrats for removing MAGA extremist Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments in the previous session.
Outlets such as Vanity Fair pointed out the hypocrisy of House Republicans’ decision, noting that Kevin McCarthy and other House Republicans have defended MAGA extremists who have supported far more egregious and malicious attacks on the Jewish community and non-white populations.
In addition to the group’s hypocrisy concerning Greene, the Republican Jewish Coalition did not condemn former President Donald Trump after he dined with white nationalist, Nick Fuentes, and noted antisemite and Holocaust denier, Kanye West, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in November 2022. Fuentes openly describes himself as a “Christian nationalist” and, through his live streams and events, has helped pull the Republican Party to the extreme far-right.
The Republican Jewish Coalition’s board includes several high-level GOP officials:
The Republican Jewish Coalition asks Senators to oppose nominees for Cabinet members, advisors, and judges “who have a background of radical, liberal, anti-Israel, or otherwise troubling statements of action.”
The group encouraged Republicans and Democrats to reject President Joe Biden’s nomination of Sarah Margon for Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the State Department because “she holds views that are far outside the mainstream regarding Israel” and supports the BDS movement. Margon, who denied that she supports BDS, served as head of the advocacy group Human Rights Watch, which has been critical of the Israeli government over its treatment of Palestinians.
At Margon’s nomination hearing, Sen. James Risch (R-ID) cited Morgan’s tweet from 2018 in which she expressed support for Airbnb, after it was reported that the company would “remove all properties in Israeli settlements built on the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank, after years of accusations that the company was benefitting from rentals in the illegal outposts.” The Guardian said Airbnb’s decision “will be seen as a victory for the Palestinian-led anti-occupation movement.” Airbnb’s announcement followed a report by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch detailing how the business had negative consequences for Palestinians.
The Republican Jewish Coalition’s national chairman, Norm Coleman, is also the chair of the right-wing advocacy group the American Action Network. A 2013 report found that from 2009 to 2017, the Republican Jewish Coalition gave the American Action Network $4 million.
Conceived as a conservative counterpart to the progressive Center for American Progress, the American Action Network largely grew out of Republicans’ dissatisfaction with President Obama’s presidency and the rising tea party movement in 2010. Although it was originally perceived as less ideological than other right-wing advocacy groups, AAN has embraced the fringes of the political right over the years, including the far-right House Freedom Caucus and former President Donald Trump.
The American Action Network is loosely connected to the Congressional Leadership Fund, one of the dominant super PACs in the American political landscape that Norm Coleman founded with House Republican leaders in late 2011. Coleman currently serves as the board chair of CLF. The group was the second-highest outside spender in the 2022 election cycle, the third-highest in the 2020 election cycle, and the second-highest in the 2018 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.
Since their inception, AAN and CLF have poured hundreds of millions to secure Republican victories:
Given its ties to House Republican leadership, CLF has at times been at odds with various outside groups aligned with other GOP factions. One of these fights came to a head in early 2023 during Kevin McCarthy’s unprecedented bid for the House Speakership. On January 2, the Uihlein-backed nonprofit group the Club for Growth announced that it would oppose McCarthy’s candidacy for Speaker of the House unless he agreed to a set of demands. The group specifically called on the new Congress to adopt rules that would empower right-wing members of the Republican caucus to have greater control over the legislative process. The group also demanded that the Congressional Leadership Fund abstain from spending money in open Republican primaries or against GOP incumbents, thus ensuring that the Club for Growth would have greater say in the composition of the Republican caucus.
After McCarthy lost multiple votes for the Speakership, the CLF cut a deal with the Club for Growth on January 5, agreeing to the group’s demands. Both groups denied that McCarthy and his allies on Capitol Hill played a role in negotiating the terms of the agreement.