MacIver News Service

By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON  Dan Kohl, the millionaire nephew of former millionaire U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl and Democrat candidate for congress, likes to paint himself as a moderate in a conservative 6th congressional district.

The Mequon resident who spent years pushing liberal causes in D.C. has, for instance, insisted he would not support former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s return to Dem House leadership should he defeat two-term Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah).

“If I’m elected to Congress, I would not vote for Nancy Pelosi as leader of the Democrats,” Kohl told Fox News 6 in April. “It’s time for a new generation in Washington.”



Kohl declined to say who he would like to see in power, but if his past is any indicator, the candidate would likely support the kind of left-wing Democrat leaders that the liberal political advocacy organization he helped launch has endorsed over the past decade.

On J Street

Kohl served as political director and as vice president of political affairs for J Street, a Washington, D.C.-based group of liberal activists that has pumped millions of dollars into liberal causes and candidates. Over the past five election cycles, J Street’s political action committee has contributed almost exclusively to Democrat candidates, including hundreds of thousands of dollars to Wisconsin ultra liberals, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee). 

While J Street’s main focus is Middle East policy, the activist group Kohl helped craft keeps company with politicians bent on breaking ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and breaking the bank with costly socialist experiments like Medicare for All.

The organization bills itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace,” and that it is committed to a two-state solution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To J Street critics, and there are many, “pro-Israel” is a misleading descriptor for a liberal organization that actively lobbies the United States government to undermine the policies of the democratically elected government of Israel. Isi Leibler, former chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress, once wrote that the pretensions of J Street are reminiscent of the “Jewish communists who defended Stalin’s state-sponsored Soviet antisemitism in the guise of promoting bogus ‘peace’ campaigns.” 

Iran Deal Mouthpiece

The George Soros-backed J Street was a major player—and mouthpiece—in the Obama administration-led Iran nuclear deal. The organization, according to multiple sources, received over a half million dollars from the Ploughshares Fund, a group tied to the Obama White House, to sell the agreement to the public. 

“J Street and Ploughshares were part of a loose coalition of groups that coordinated strategy on building support for the Iran deal since late 2013, occasionally consulting with the White House,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

While a majority of Americans surveyed (56 percent) in May said they support the Iran deal, 34 percent of registered voters surveyed in a July Ipsos/Reuters poll said the Republican Party has the better plan to handle Iran, and 28 percent preferred the Democratic Party’s approach. 

Grothman stood alongside the vast majority of his fellow House Republicans in 2015 in voting against the agreement. The conservative congressman is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal. 

Rick Coelho, Kohl’s campaign manager, has said the Democrat is a strong supporter of Israel and an Iran peace deal.

“If elected to Congress, Dan will work strenuously to maintain support for Israel’s security, oppose efforts to delegitimize Israel and impugn its Jewish and democratic character, stand behind the two-state solution, and prevent a nuclear-armed Iran,” Coelho said in an email response last year to MacIver News Service’s questions.

Baldwin and other Wisconsin Democrats vehemently opposed the move to back out of the costly Iran nuclear deal, and the J Street Political Action Committee has rewarded them handsomely for their dedication. 

Cashing In

Baldwin reported another $38,000 in bundled campaign contributions in the second quarter from the liberal group, tipping her total contributions from J Street to north of $120,000 in the current election cycle. J Street’s PAC is one of Baldwin’s top industry contributors, feeding the incumbent senator’s campaign nearly $150,000 over the last six years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In June, J Street organized a fundraiser for Baldwin at a Milwaukee couple’s home, with “suggested levels of support” as high as $2,700 for “Gold” sponsors.

Kohl has taken in more than $175,000 in bundled contributions from his old friends. J Street, according to the most recent campaign finance filings, is Kohl’s top contributor.

It should come as no surprise then that Kohl, Baldwin, and a host of far left candidates and members of congress have received the J Street PAC’s seal of approval. That includes Pocan, Baldwin’s successor in the liberal rich 2nd Congressional District. In its endorsement, J Street describes Pocan as “a rising star in the Progressive Caucus.”

ICE Breakers 

Pocan was one of three House members in June to introduce legislation that would abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. 

“Sadly, President Trump has so misused ICE that the agency can no longer accomplish its goals effectively,” Pocan wrote in a press release. “As a result, the best path forward is this legislation, which would end ICE and transfer its critical functions to other executive agencies.” 

Pocan and the ICE breakers aren’t getting many takers for their proposal. A Politico/Morning Consult poll in July found 54 percent of voters oppose eliminating ICE, and only one in four voters surveyed thought abolishing the agency is a good idea. 

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), has received J Street’s endorsement. The Nation, a far left publication, has described Jayapal as “a leader of the Democratic resistance.” U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), the grandfather of the left’s latest big government causes, called upon the first-term representative to help sell his “College for All Act,” alongside liberal stalwarts U.S. Rep Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), the No. 2 official at the Democratic National Committee, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).

Warren, too, has been endorsed by the J Street PAC. As has U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), who, like Warren, is considered a potential 2020 candidate for president. Both senators have publicly broadcast their support of shutting down ICE and, like so many other liberal politicians J Street endorses, are backers of the Bernie Sanders Medicare for All Plan. Sanders, too, has been endorsed by the J Street PAC.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democrat Socialist darling of the Democratic Party’s increasingly dominant left wing, is not endorsed by J Street but has made it clear she takes Israel policy advice from the group. 

Randy Bryce, “the Iron Stache,” as he likes to call himself, seems to support about every far left cause – from abolishing ICE, Medicare for All (estimated to cost $32.6 trillion), a $15 hourly minimum wage, and his undying support for unions. He, too, has earned the J Street PAC’s seal of approval. 

And the list of endorsements for far left candidates goes on and on. 

Left Out?

Such left-wing policy ideas haven’t sold well in the 1st Congressional District, where Bryce is campaigning, and they’ve been repudiated over the past 70 years in the 6th Congressional District, where only one Democrat has been elected to the House since World War II. Grothman was re-elected in 2016 with 57.2 percent of the vote, a nearly 20-percent victory over his liberal challenger. Trump won the district by 17 points. 

Kohl has described Grothman as the “single-most partisan member of the House.” The Democrat challenger, however, has a far left resume.

When Kohl helped launch J Street, he set into motion an activist organization ostensibly created to find a solution to the endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the advocacy organization and its PAC have become pivotal players in the left’s agenda here at home. 

As a congressional candidate, Kohl earlier this year noted that “Israel matters deeply” but said that people across the country are deeply concerned about affordable health care, better paying jobs, and “an economy that works for all and not just those at the top.”  

But Kohl, who has attacked the wildly successful 2017 tax cuts as an “irresponsible and fiscally unsound approach,” hasn’t indicated what policies he would support in congress by the liberal company he helped create, and the far left company he and J Street keep.  

M. D. KittleM.D. Kittle is an Investigative Reporter with the MacIver Institute. This article appears courtesy of the MacIver Institute.