The funds will support the Anti-Semitism Accountability Project (ASAP), including a nonprofit and a super PAC that will call out Democrats and Republicans who traffic in anti-Semitic language and tropes. A longtime Republican Party donor who was appointed ambassador to Austria during the Reagan administration, Lauder recently donated $200,000 to a joint fundraising committee managed by the Trump administration and the Republican Party and $1.65 million to a super PAC that ran ads against Democratic candidates for the House and Senate in 2018. With ASAP, however, the cosmetics billionaire plans to target members of both parties. Managed by consulting firm Tusk Strategies, the initiative has already hired pollsters, strategists, and researchers to track anti-Semitic comments by candidates in races across the country.
"It's my money and what I stand for," Lauder told the Times. "The key word for all these things is action. Because we've had polls, we've had conferences, we've had different speeches. But no action."
Earlier this year, Lauder commissioned a poll to measure the level of anti-Semitism in America which found that roughly one in six Americans held at least some anti-Semitic beliefs, including people who said the Holocaust was a myth or had been exaggerated (14 percent), that Jews had "too much control over the American government" (18 percent), and that they had "too much control over global affairs" (17 percent). The Anti-Defamation League has documented a spike in anti-Semitic incidents since the election of Donald J. Trump, from 942 in 2015 to 1,986 in 2017, to 1,879 in 2018.
Lauder told the Times he had no concerns about Trump, who at times has perpetuated stereotypes of Jews using money to buy political influence. "I don't believe there is an anti-Semitic bone in his body. He set the record straight, as far as I'm concerned, in front of the whole nation," said Lauder, referring to the president's 2019 State of the Union address, in which Trump said, "We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism or those who spread its venomous creed."
Lauder also said he planned to reach out to a group of freshmen Democratic congresswomen known as "the Squad" — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna S. Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — who have become targets for supporters of the president and Israel. "I'd like to sit down and talk to them," said Lauder.