Top Jewish Republicans funding Iran sanctions think tank

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The three top donors to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the leading think tank advocating for Iran sanctions, are top Republican Jewish fundraisers.

A review of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ financial filings published this week by Salon, an online magazine, found that between 2008 and 2011, Bernard Marcus, the founder of Home Depot, had given the foundation nearly $11 million; Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire, had given $3.6 million; and Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, had donated about $1.5 million.

All three are active in the Republican Jewish Coalition and donate to other Jewish causes.

Marcus, who filmed an anti-Obama ad for the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, helped found the Israel Democracy Institute; Adelson is a major funder of Birthright Israel; and Singer is a board member of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

The foundation has taken a lead role in recent years in drafting Iran sanctions legislation, although its officials have mostly stayed out of the battles between Congress and the Obama administration over how and when to apply them.

After its establishment in 2001, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies had bipartisan support, but it lost a number of its Democratic backers in 2008 when a similarly named group founded by foundation President Clifford May ran ads targeting congressional Democrats for not favoring expanded government espionage powers.