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Political Action Committees: Funding Politics Since 1944

Political Action Committees have been around since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s re-election campaign.

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The world of politics can be rather complex, especially when it comes to how politicians are elected and the different forces responsible for influencing the operations of the government. Several different types of groups push to have their goals accomplished. One of the most common type of organization is known as the Political Action Committee (PAC).

PACs are organizations that work with politicians and candidates running for office to influence the government in a way that benefits the people that the group represents. They can be formed to benefit industries, businesses, social causes, and others.

What Is a Political Action Committee?

A Political Action Committee is a group of individuals organized to raise and spend money to elect or defeat certain candidates. This is typically done by giving the money they receive from people making donations to the campaigns of individuals running for office. But these groups do not only exist to assist candidates. They can also give money to political parties.

PACs have existed in the United States since 1944 when the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) created the first such group to raise funds designed to help President Franklin D. Roosevelt get re-elected. Since then, these organizations provide funding for a number of candidates.

What Do PACs Do?

Corporations typically use PACs to give money to candidates that will support policies that benefit the company. It’s necessary to go through a PAC because, in some states, corporations are not allowed to donate directly to a campaign. But corporations are not the only ones who form PACs. Politicians can create organizations designed to help fellow politicians.

Here is an example of how a PAC can function. Let’s say you own a bakery that specializes in selling cupcakes. One day, a group of state lawmakers decides to introduce a bill banning vanilla frosting. Obviously, that type of law would greatly damage your business. In response, you might partner with other bakeries and form a PAC called “Save The Frosting.”

After creating the PAC, you manage to get donations from friends, family, and other local wealthy business owners who love your cupcakes with vanilla frosting. After raising enough money, you meet with other lawmakers who haven’t announced that they would support the anti-frosting legislation and you donate money to their campaigns. During your meetings, you would tell them how harmful it would be if the law passed and ask them to oppose it. Since you showed your support for the candidate by giving to their campaign, they might be more likely to push for laws that help your business and oppose laws that hurt your business.

Political Action Committees are formed by both Democrats and Republicans whose cause or company relies on the government to exist. They have been an important component of American politics since the 1940s, and if you wish to influence the government in the future, it is likely that you will need such an organization.

Jeff Charles

Race Relations & Media Affairs Correspondent at and A self-confessed news and political junkie, Jeff’s writing has been featured in Small Business Trends, Business2Community, and The Huffington Post. Born in Southern California and having experienced the 1992 L.A. Riots up close and personal, Jeff’s insights are informed by his experiences as a black man and a conservative.

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