Monthly Archives: November 2012

PACs, Super PACs, and 501(c)4s

A group of people, such as a business, labor union, or ideological group, may create a PAC to raise and disburse voluntary donations directly to a political party or a political candidate’ s campaign. For example, PACs have been created by many corporations, unions, and special interest groups, such as the National Association of Realtors, AT&T, ExxonMobil, Sierra Club, Transport Workers Union, National Rifle Association, and Washington Women for Choice.

In 1944, the Congress of Industrial Organizations established the first PAC in response to the Smith-Connally Act of 1943 which disallowed contributions to federal political campaigns from union treasuries. The Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments (1974) set limits on donations to federal PACs, as well as spending limits which were later repealed (Buckley v. Valeo, 1976). Since the 1970s, campaign finance law has continued to evolve.

PACs are one of four sources of funds for candidates seeking federal office (the other three sources are individual donors,  political parties, and the candidate’s own money).   Continue reading

One Way Forward by Lawrence Lessig Part Two

by Anita

Political groups like the Tea Party Patriots and Occupy Wall Street do not have a common end, only a common enemy – corruption. It is generally legal corruption, in which money indirectly buys power in the government. It affects all political groups, and prevents us from reaching our goals.

Lessig quotes Henry David Thoreau: “[t]here are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” This is the origin of the name of Lessig’s group called Rootstrikers.

The “root” is the role that money plays in our government – specifically, the money from a very small part of America. Only 0.26% of Americans give more than $200 to congressional campaigns, and 0.01% spend more than $10,000 in a campaign cycle. Because of the enormous role of campaign contributions, the government is accountable to rich individuals (and corporations) rather than to “the People” as the Framers meant it to be. Continue reading