Risky Business? Pac Decisionmaking in Congressional Elections

By Robert Biersack; Paul S. Herrnson et al. | Go to book overview
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Part Three "Mom and Pop" PACs

The PACs discussed in this section are primarily one-person operations that rely on the ingenuity of their PAC directors to give them a presence on Capitol Hill. Unlike the institutionalized PACs in the previous section, these organizations lack the staff and resources to gather information on many candidates. They also lack the financial resources to contribute to large numbers of candidates and usually develop a short list of candidates to whom they regularly contribute. For these reasons, these small PACs may have been limited in their ability to respond to the unique opportunities of the 1992 election cycle.

However, the PAC managers for these small committees often have considerable latitude in selecting candidates for this list. Unlike the institutionalized committees, the directors of these PACs are generally not constrained by an established set of procedures and criteria for contribution decisions. If a manager of a "Mom and Pop" PAC decides to support a set of nonincumbent candidates, he or she usually need not seek approval from a board of directors at a later meeting. In a few cases, such as that of the American Association of Publishers PAC ( AAP- PAC), the PAC manager formally consults with a board, which almost always approves the contributions. For other PACs, there is no formal consultation.

The influence of these small PACs is often a function of the creativity and political skills of their directors. AAP-PAC contributes little money to political candidates, but its manager uses high-visibility political and social activities such as fundraising events and networking to enhance the PAC's influence. Similarly, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) is a small union PAC that is limited by Hatch Act restrictions in its fundraising. NFFE has formed a coalition with other small union PACs, and together these committees evaluate the voting records and electoral prospects of congressional incumbents and host fundraising breakfasts to maximize the group's contact with those to whom they give. The Conservative Victory Committee, faced with the decline in direct-mail

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Risky Business? Pac Decisionmaking in Congressional Elections
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