Risky Business? Pac Decisionmaking in Congressional Elections

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

20 How the Little People Choose: PAC Decisionmaking in the PHH Group, Inc., and the National Air Traffic Controllers' Association

Jack E. Rossotti

In the 1991-92 election cycle, approximately 75 percent of all PAC contributions came from only 8 percent of the 4,729 PACs registered with the Federal Election Commission. 1 While most scholarly and popular attention has been focused on these few, there are also a large number of political action committees that raise and contribute small amounts. They can be found among all PAC types--corporate, labor, membership, and ideological--and they have widely diverse organizational forms and political strategies.

Given the dominance of large PACs in terms of dollars contributed to candidates, the very existence and continued activity of these small committees warrants some consideration. What benefits do these organizations derive from their modest involvement in campaign finance? How do their procedures for making decisions differ from those of the larger PACs with which we are more familiar? How are these "little guys" affected by the actions of their larger contemporaries? Do they simply follow the lead of big organizations with similar interests, or are they more likely to go their own way, unincumbered by the demands imposed on more important players?

This chapter examines two small PACs that give modest amounts to federal candidates: 2 one corporation, the PHH Group, Inc., and one labor organization, the National Air Traffic Controllers' Association. While similar in size during the 1990 election cycle, they represent two very different stages in the life-cycle

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