Risky Business? Pac Decisionmaking in Congressional Elections

By Robert Biersack; Paul S. Herrnson et al. | Go to book overview
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holders. The PAC has become an established organization with routinized operations. Such organizations are not remarkably agile because agility is unnecessary for survival, or even success. The PAC made no sharp departure from previous behavior because that is not how established organizations behave. When confronted with an unprecedented situation, it accommodated it within its operational precedents. To have used 1992 as a means of changing the composition of Congress would have meant an abrupt shift from pragmatic to ideological goals. It would have required PAC directors to sever many of the state-level ties they had established over the previous decade, a move that would have cast doubt on their commitment to all other ties. The spread of such doubt would in turn have jeopardized the success of the very lobbying function PAC contributions support. Such a dramatic shift in goals and methods would have constituted a revolution within the PAC, and we should never be surprised when revolutions do not occur.

. Personal interviews with Gregory Millert, AT&T vice president for Federal Government Affairs and Federal Government Affairs Director Donald L. Goff, October 11, 1991.
.The FECA specifically permitted corporations to have direct partisan communications with stockholders but did not mention employees. Nonetheless, all three Republican commissioners and one of the Democrats voted to permit SUNPAC to solicit hourly wage as well as managerial employees. Congress reacted to this move by defining executives and managers as the solicitable class for corporate PACs and explicitly excluding hourly-wage workers. See Robert E. Mutch, Campaigns, Congress, and Courts: The Making of Federal Campaign Finance Law ( New York: Praeger, 1988), pp. 164-70.
. Personal interviews with Donald Goff, June 23 and November 24, 1992, and AT&T PAC year-end reports. One factor in failing receipts that officers hope face-to-face solicitation will reduce is donor antagonism toward all PACs.
. Personal interview with Donald Goff, October 11, 1991. Goff was once AT&T's Illinois state government affairs director.
. Edward Handler and John R. Mulkern reported that in more than three-fourths of the corporate PACs in their sample, CEOs appointed all members of PAC committees. See their book, Business in Politics ( Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1982), p. 75. Larry Sabato seconded this observation in PAC Power ( New York: W.W. Norton, 1984), p. 34. See also Theodore J. Eismeier and Philip H. Pollock, Business, Money, and the Rise of Corporate PACs in American Elections ( New York: Quorum Books, 1988), p. 16. On the other hand, a 1986 Conference Board study found that in 40 to 45 percent of large firms, "a senior corporate executive" made those selections. See Catherine Morrison, Managing Corporate PACs ( New York: Conference Board, 1986), p. 13.
. Handler and Mulkern also observed that in most corporations legal officers tended to restrain the enthusiasm of the public affairs people who Tan the PACs. Exceptions were airline and railroad companies, which, like telecommunications firms, are heavily regulated. See Business in Politics, p. 67. The Conference Board's 1986 study found that in larger firms "it is almost certain that the company's general counsel . . . will be one of the officers of the PAC" ( Morrison, Managing Corporate PACs, p. 11).


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Risky Business? Pac Decisionmaking in Congressional Elections
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