With the election just right around the corner, most people keeping up with the presidential race have probably heard the terms PAC and Super PAC mentioned numerous times and might be wondering what they are. Both PACs and Super PACs play a role in swaying public opinions in politics.
To begin with, PAC is short for Political Action Committee. A PAC is formed whenever two or more people, businesses, or organizations decide to pool their resources and use them in support of the candidates they like, as well as to oppose the candidates they do not. In addition, PACs can use their money to help influence legislative actions in the House and Senate, as well as for ballot measures. They can even use funds to retain the services of lobbyists.
The amount of money PACs can raise and use for their various causes does vary depending upon the type of PAC. If the PAC is formed in support of local or state politicians running for office, the state could impose caps on exactly how much money the PAC can raise, but that is not always the case. In Oregon, for instance, the state does not have a cap on the amount PACs can raise.
Raising money is just one aspect of a PAC. The other aspect is spending money, like those “paid for by … ” ads that appear on your TV during election years. When it comes to spending money, PACs have to keep detailed records, showing exactly where every penny was spent. They must report their spending to either the appropriate state or federal agency. Reports must detail salaries, advertisements, supplies, rents, day-to-day operational expenses, dinners, and so on.
Further, while there may or may not be a limit on the amount of money a PAC can raise, they must also keep detailed records on donors. These records must show the amount of money donated and the date.
Lastly, PACs are not allowed to have direct contact with the candidates, or attempt to coordinate their efforts. It can seem like the rules regulating these actions are rather vague, so some PACs might push the limits as far as they can without violating the rules.
For example, it is perfectly acceptable for PACs to communicate with candidates through the media. Once the information is public, then either the candidates or PACs can use it to further their objectives, and it not considered a violation of the rules.
Super PACs are more commonly formed for political issues, campaigns, and candidates seeking offices at the federal level. Currently, Super PACs are free to raise as much money as they desire without any caps. Just like state PACs, they must file reports showing a list of their donors, the amount donated, when it was donated, and where they have spent the money they have raised.
For help with political issues, not just at election time, please feel free to contact the experienced lobbyists at Lobbyit by calling 202.587.2736 today.