Risky Business? Pac Decisionmaking in Congressional Elections

By Robert Biersack; Paul S. Herrnson et al. | Go to book overview

5 The Demise of a Lead PAC: The Free Congress PAC

James G. Gimpel

Relatively few PACs have sought to exercise direct influence on political campaigns by sending consultants into the field to help assemble campaign organizations. Throughout its nearly twenty-year history, the Free Congress PAC ( FCP), originally known as the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, has specialized in providing "in-kind" contributions to the campaigns of conservative candidates. The FCP has not been active in funding incumbents or in trying to influence legislation. Instead, it has focused on competitive conservative challengers. In the case of the FCP, the focus is on the soon-to-be- elected.


History

The FCP began as the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress (CSFC) in 1973. It was and continues to be the brainchild of one man--political entrepreneur, conservative activist, and former Hill staffer Paul Weyrich. In the early 1970s, Weyrich, an employee of a Republican senator at the time, believed that the left had simply out-organized the right. Liberal scholars, journalists, union officials, and politicians appeared to have formed a cohesive bloc in opposition to President Nixon's efforts to roll back certain domestic programs. He created the CSFC to be a countervailing force to liberal groups that had formed in defense of government programs and regulations instituted in the 1960s.

As a parallel project, Weyrich immediately set about to help elect a more conservative Congress. The CSFC's most immediate goal was to provide direct support to conservative candidates. The issues most central to its mission were

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