Risky Business? Pac Decisionmaking in Congressional Elections

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

AT&T PAC: A Pragmatic Giant

Robert E. Mutch

AT&T PAC is the largest corporate PAC, having raised and spent more than other corporate funds since 1986. AT&T created its current PAC in 1984 after divesting itself, under federal court order, of its twenty-two operating companies. Divestiture was an event of massive proportions for the company, and the consequent reorganization of the PAC and reassessment of its purpose led directly to its rapid attainment of number-one status in 1986. AT&T has fully integrated the PAC with its lobbying arm, the Government Relations Division.

As would be expected of a PAC so closely linked to a lobbying operation, AT&T PAC supports more incumbents and Democrats than most other company PACs. It also is cautious and orthodox in its activities: it makes no in-kind contributions or independent expenditures, and the parent company makes very few soft-money contributions. It is because AT&T PAC is a model of the pragmatic corporate committee that its behavior in 1992 is of special interest. Because the development that determined the PAC's behavior was the very large number of House open seats in 1992, this chapter will concentrate on the PAC's activities in House elections.


Growth and Development

American Telephone and Telegraph Company engaged in little overt electoral activity before forming its first PACs in 1977 and 1979. The company had no organized political contribution program before creating its political funds, and few of its top officers are on record as having made contributions in or before the 1976 elections. Even after the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) explicitly legalized the creation of union and corporation PACs in 1971, AT&T did not

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