Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Political Action Committees
Michael Luis Principe
Political action committees (PACs) are organizations dedicated to fundraising and supporting the election or defeat of specific political candidates. Their existence traces back to 1944, when the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) supported efforts to reelect President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. To avoid violation of the Smith Connally Act of 1943, which prohibited federal candidates from receiving contributions from labor unions, the CIO encouraged its union members to voluntarily contribute directly to the PACs effort to support the Roosevelt campaign. These efforts proved so successful that numerous other PACs soon appeared. Today, PACs literally raise billions of dollars in support of thousands of political candidates at both state and federal levels. Although the number of PACs grew continuously through the 1950s and 1960s, they reached their real prominence during the 1970s. It was then that Congress attempted to limit some of the “big money” influence in national elections by enacting the ...