PACs Increase Last Year, Giving $1 of Every $3 Spent
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The number of special interest political committees increased by 165 last year, to a total of 4,157, and they contributed about $1 of every $3 spent by House and Senate candidates, Federal Election Commission records show.
The increase in political action committees registering with the FEC represents a turnaround from the previous year, when the number of PACs dropped slightly, from 4,009 in 1984 to 3,992 in 1985.
The slow drop-off in the number of labor PACs continued last year, with 384 at the end of 1986, down four from the year before, and 10 fewer than the peak year of 1984.
PACs categorized as trade, membership or health groups increased by 50 to a total of 745, and PACs affiliated with corporations increased by 34, to a total of 1,744.
So-called non-connected PACs, which include those headed by politicians and presidential hopefuls, increased by 74 last year, to a total of 1,077.
Corporations and labor unions are prohibited from giving money from their treasuries to campaigns, but they are permitted to set up PACs that solicit money from employees or other sources.
While the 1984 elections saw PACs contributing $105 million to House and Senate candidates, preliminary figures show last November’s elections were fueled by at least $123 million in PAC funds. Although the final spending figures are yet to be reported, that represented about a third of the $369 million the candidates reported spending as of their post-election statements through Nov. 24.
Any political committee that spends money on federal elections must register with the FEC, and can give a maximum $5,000 to any one candidate. Several PACs get around the spending limit, however, through so-called independent expenditures, in which they conduct media or other campaigning to support or attack a candidate without coordinating with the candidates’ own campaigns.
Congress will again this year consider legislation to limit the total amount of money any one candidate can accept from PACs.
Critics claim that PAC money represents too much special interest clout in politics.
Several Senate candidates in the past election received more than $1 million in PAC money.