What is a PAC and/or a SUPER-PAC?
A political action committe or PAC is a popular term for a political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates. Most PACs represent business, labor or ideological interests. PACs can give $5,000 to a candidate committee per election (primary, general or special).
They can also give up to $15,000 annually to any national party committee, and $5,000 annually to any other PAC. PACs may receive up to $5,000 from any one individual, PAC or party committee per calendar year. A PAC must register with the FEC within 10 days of its formation, providing name and address for the PAC, its treasurer and any connected organizations. Affiliated PACs are treated as one donor for the purpose of contribution limits.
Super PACs are a relatively new type of committee that arose following the July 2010 federal court decision in a case known as SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission.
Technically known as independent expenditure-only committees, super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Unlike traditional PACs, super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates, and their spending must not be coordinated with that of the candidates they benefit.
Super PACs are required to report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or semiannual basis – the super PAC’s choice – in off-years, and monthly in the year of an election.
Accordingly to CNBC, Conservative Koch brothers’ network to spend up to $400 million for the midterm election cycle – including $20 million to sell the GOP tax law. The scale of that level of donations should frighten any single voter.
PACs are a logical extension of our democratic process. PACs are people who recognize that there is strength in numbers. Throughout our country’s history, groups of like-minded citizens have joined together to ensure that their voices are heard in the political process.
Additionally, PACs are an important source of funds to candidates. Candidates must rely on expensive broadcast media, direct mail efforts, polling and campaign consultants, not to mention the traditional posters, bumper stickers, billboards, and other political paraphernalia. As a result, candidates look to every source for campaign support, including individuals, political parties, their own personal resources, and PACs.
In Washington state, Seattle is one of a small handful of municipalities that have created a “democracy voucher” system. Democracy Vouchers are certificates that residents can use to help support their local candidates. Democracy Vouchers can also be used to fund your own campaign.
Seattle candidates running for one of the offices below are required to collect the following number of qualifying contributions from Seattle residents:
- City attorney – 150 contributions
- City council at-large – 400 contributions
- City council district – 150 contributions (75 contributions must come from within the candidate’s district)
Each contribution must be at least $10, but no more than $250.
We follow multiple political action groups on social media that are focused on trying to remind voters to vote, be smart about their voting, and take an active role in their local politics.
You have probably either been unfriended or you have unfriended multiple people on social media as either party feels very strongly about a certain position or candidate. This is a waste of time! You’re not going to change someone’s political beliefs on Facebook. You can debate and debate, but you’re just wasting your time. People are different and believe different things. Accept it, agree to disagree and move on. Life’s too short. Let your vote be your voice.
But, you feel so empowered with the keyboard! This only creates division and hate.
Something more productive is to volunteer for your local candidate, party or walk a protest! If you really feel that strong about something, put your passion into action and actually do something!
So, are PAC’s inherently evil? As intended….no. But, with an average of almost $4BILLION spent annually to influence Congress with Big PHARMA leading the charge by spending $150MILL annually – this does seem to diminish the value of the single voter. You might think that your local Congressman or Senator are doing a great job, so re-elect right?
If your Congressman or Senator accepted $250K from big Pharma for their campaign but one of your children died from an opioid overdose as the result of a lack of Federal oversight, is that a vote well spent? So, I would conclude without some sort of regulation of professional Lobbying and Campaign Spending (PACS and SUPER-PACS), the future of our Democracy is doomed to fail.
What can you do? Ask your Congressman and Senator for full transparency of their funding. Vote for improved regulation of campaign funding. Quit posting on social media and volunteer your time at your local campaign HQ.