The United States Green Party Platform

Commonly known as PACs, political action committees are private groups that have specific agendas to elect certain individuals and/or pass or block the passage of legislation to promote particular causes. According to the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971, organizations are considered to be PACs if they collect or spend any amount of money over $1,000 with the intent of contributing to a federal election.

However, while some PACs work to get candidates elected, others work for general causes in an effort to push through or impede legislation that is either for or against their cause.

In this section, we will outline the ins and outs of political action committees. Our articles discuss everything from the limitations and legalities that govern PACs to the loopholes the some PACs use to bypass these restrictions.

PACs

Most political action committees are formed to represent a particular interest that is generally associated with a corporation, a labor interest or a specific ideology. For example, while the cigarette and gun companies have PACs that try to influence elections and legislation favorable to these companies, so too do environmentalists and gun control groups.

Before a PAC can push its agenda, it needs to raise money through gathering donations from individuals and corporations alike that support its particular cause. According to the FECA, individuals are allowed to donate no more than $5,000. Although corporations aren’t allowed to contribute any money by law, they can pay for the operating costs of a PAC. Similarly, individuals in the corporation can still donate money on their own.

The primary way in which PACs influence elections and voting decisions is by donating money to a particular candidate’s campaign. In fact, when it comes to raising money for their election campaigns, most candidates know that winning the support of PACs is a surefire way to increase their funding. The tradeoff for PACs is that, once their candidate wins, he or she will promote and vote for legislation that is favorable to that PAC’s cause. Learn more about PACs.

Lobbying

Lobbying is a term that describes the act of trying influence politicians to vote in a particular way. In general, PACs are composed of anywhere from a few to hundreds of lobbyists working towards a particular agenda. While anyone can become a lobbyist, those who have ties to government officials are typically the most likely individuals to work for PACs.

For example, congressmen who haven’t been re-elected make the perfect candidates for becoming lobbyists in that they not only know how the system works, but they also have connections and networks of friends already set up within Congress. Learn more about how lobbying affects legislation.

Legal Issues

While the way in which PACs work with politicians may seem like a straightforward model, this relationship opens the door for corruption. The main criticism launched at PACs is that they offer a way for people and corporations to buy votes from elected officials. While scandal has seeped into this structure, the law has followed close behind.

In fact, both state and federal governments have passed a number of laws to regulate how much money PACs can donate to candidates. Read on to learn more about the legalities surrounding PACs.