Who's Who in Campaign Funds Series: Anyone Can Form a Political Action Committee (PAC) to Contribute Campaign Funds. Some PAC Contributors Include Barbra Streisand, Ronald McDonald, and Even Pork Farmers, TRISTAR PICTURES/REUTERS, FRED PROUSER/REUTERS, and R. NORMAN MATHENY - STAFF/FILE
Warren Richey, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
We live in an age of special interests.
If you don't believe it, take a look at the list of 4,033 political action committees that have filed with the Federal Election Commission to make campaign contributions in the current election season.
Ronald McDonald, the Maytag repairman, and Cap'n Crunch all have their own political action committees (PACs). So do bowling alley owners, purse seine net fishermen, Tupperware salespeople, and Pakistani doctors. Big-money PACs have long been criticized by campaign-finance-reform advocates who say they have too much power over the election process. But not all PACs have access to big money and not all are powerful. Some are simply a grass-roots reflection of the diverse concerns, hopes, and ideals of Americans. Anyone can form a PAC. The rules are that PACs may contribute up to $5,000 per candidate per election, or up to $15,000 a year to a political party. Most PACs are tied to corporations or labor unions. Some are oriented toward individual candidates or political parties. Others are aimed at pushing a particular philosophy or issue. They have sprung up in all regions of the country. There is a Gun Owners PAC in Peachtree City, Ga. Citizens Opposed to Political Egotists PAC is based in Las Vegas. And the Ban Income Tax Everywhere PAC is headquartered in Dousman, Wis. The Conservative Order of Good Guys holds court in San Diego, where they have contributed $5,250 toward the election of Republicans to Congress. In Washington, D.C., the Council for a Livable World has contributed $47,944 to help Democrats regain control of the Senate. Some PACs cover most of the major food groups. There is a turkey PAC, a pork PAC, a shrimp PAC, and a Tunaboat PAC. There is also an egg PAC, and an ice cream, milk, and cheese PAC. Organizers have also set up PACs to look out for the interests of oranges, pears, peaches, avocados, beets, figs, and tomatoes. In California there is even something called the Raisin Bargaining Association PAC. You can bet they've staked out an iron-clad position on the school-lunch issue. There are PACs that insist you must be a little nuts to win their support, including the Southwest Peanut PAC, the Western Pistachio Organization PAC, the California Almond Growers PAC, and the Walnut Growers PAC. …