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What Is Your Perspective on Political Action Committees (PACS)?

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Political Action Committee (PAC) — A popular term for a political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates. Most PACs represent business, labor or ideological interests. PACs can give $5,000 to a candidate committee per election (primary, general or special).

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Political action committees are among the most common sources of funding for campaigns in the United States. The function of a political action committee is to raise and spend money on behalf of a candidate for elected office at the local, state and federal levels

A political action committee is often referred to as a PAC and can be run by candidates themselves, political parties or special interest groups. Most committees represent business, labor or ideological interests, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C. The money they spend is often referred to as ""hard money"" because it is being used directly for the election or defeat of specific candidates. In a typical election cycle, political action committee raise more than $2 billion and spend nearly $500 million.

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Literature on the subject of PAC money is vast and voluminous, but not decisive as to the motives associated with these types of groups. Hall and Wayman (1990) stated that the general consensus of PACs is that they distribute contributions in an effort to encourage representatives to put more effort toward legislation that suits their agenda. This has led to a debate regarding the infusions of cash and campaign finances in elections

Critics of PACs argue that without some form of tight regulations on campaign finance contributions by PACs that lawmakers will do whatever they are told to do by these special interest groups. Proponents of PACs argue that restrictions of that kind of nature would simply move interest groups to utilize lobbying instead (Wolaver and Magee, 2006; Alexander and Lukes, 1990).

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Finally, primary races are already showing signs of how money will not be an object for their presidential candidate. The seemingly limitless budget exists for these candidates thanks to the so-called Super PACs (Political Action Committees)

These Super PACs are allowed to come up with independent financing for the presidential campaign, sans any budgetary ceilings. The inner workings of such a committee has left a bad taste in the mouths of the voters even though very little is known about the actual history and reasons for the existence of the Super PACS.

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Alexander, H., & Lukes, T. (1990). The Power of Money: The Ethics of Campaign Finance Reform (Symposium Discussion/Journal Article in Issues in Ethics, V.3, N.2).

Holman, C. (2006, May 11). Origins, Evolution and Structure of the Lobbying Disclosure Act [Article].

Major provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. (2013). Retrieved July 12, 2013

Wolaver, A. M., & Magee, C. S. (2006). The Effects of Political Action Committee Contributions on Medical Liability Legislation. Topics in Economic Analysis & Policy, 6(1), 1-23.

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