Monday, June 5, 2023

New trend in Congress: Swearing by PAC’s money

Kate Ackley CQ-Roll Call

WASHINGTON – Corporate PACs are telling a growing swath of lawmakers in the upcoming 118th Congress: We don’t want your cash.

More than 70% of members say they are pledging such contributions, indicating a trend that has persisted almost exclusively among Democrats during the 2018 election cycle. Despite the development, the move has not led to major campaign finance policy or legislative changes.

With control of Congress divided next year, even minor changes to political funding laws seem unlikely.

Still, professional political action committees, or PACs, which are not indexed for inflation and must comply with disclosure requirements, face an uncertain future as their rupee dwindles.

When candidates began pledging not to take corporate PAC money, some saw it as a gimmick for outsiders who would not normally receive such contributions. But there is no indication that MLAs who have taken the pledge are turning away from it in large numbers. Recent cycles have seen an explosion in small-sum donations by more donors, especially among Democrats.

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“Refusing corporate PAC money is one way to show commitment to addressing the problem of money in politics, and its popularity helps keep the issue at the top of the agenda,” said Adam Bozzi, vice president of communications at Citizens United. Said, a group affiliated with Democrats that tracks which members pledge to decline donations from corporate PACs.

“We expect the trend to continue growing, and it will help us work towards progress on anti-corruption legislation, such as eliminating black money,” Bozzi said, using a term for committees that conduct elections or Spend money to influence policy but do not disclose their donors.

Bozzi’s group has tracked 72 members of the upcoming 118th Congress (73 if Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock wins a runoff on Tuesday) who reject corporate PAC funding, 59 in the 117th Congress and 59 in the 116th Congress. above 56 in A handful of Republicans have sworn off money in recent years with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is sticking to his pledge not to accept donations from “vigilant corporations”.

Two Democratic lawmakers who swore corporate PAC donations in the last election then carried them this cycle lost re-election this year: Elaine Luria of Virginia and Cindy Exne of Iowa.

Luria’s collection of $340,000 from such PACs included donations from Google, Altria, Raytheon and General Dynamics. Xane’s campaign disclosed receiving $140,000 from the company PAC. As of October 19, the Federal Election Commission reported that both amounts are small percentages of their total fundraising totals, which were about $10 million for Luria and about $7 million for Xené.

Some newly elected members say they will continue to shun corporate PAC money, including Sens. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Peter Welch of Vermont and Reps. Delia Ramirez and Nikki Budzinski of Illinois, Greg Landesman of Ohio, Summer Lee of Pennsylvania and Mary Glusenkamp Perez of Washington, among others.

And Citizens United, which takes its name from the Supreme Court case that paved the way for independent-spending-only super PACs, and its affiliate Let America Vote have spent more than $6.5 million on outside spending, according to a tabulation by nonpartisan OpenSecrets. revealed more. organization.

Business PAC representatives say they plan to explain to lawmakers and candidates what they really are.

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about our PACs,” said Mikaela Isler, executive director of the National Association of Business Political Action Committees. “When people hear ‘corporate PAC,’ they immediately think corporate treasury funds are being used to elect candidates to Congress. At the federal level, we know that’s not allowed.”

Individual companies’ PACs include donations from a pool of eligible donors, mostly company executives, and must disclose those funds and donations made to federal candidates.

“We are not black money,” Isler said. “Everything we do is on the public record, and it’s very limited.” PACs can donate $5,000 per election to congressional candidates, and this amount does not change with inflation.

Individual contributions were originally capped at $1,000 per election but were indexed for inflation and increased to $2,900 per election in the 2022 cycle.

Although the no-corporate-PAC pledges haven’t been followed by an overhaul of campaign money laws, they provide a way for Democrats to signal that they’re willing to leave some money on the table, even if it’s not a lot. amount, campaign finance overhaul advocates say.

Bozzi said the original surge of members who declined corporate PAC funding during the 2018 cycle paved the way for Democrats’ recent sweeping political funding and voting rights overhaul measures, which did not pass the Senate but the House in the last two Congresses. had passed

Meredith McGee, a longtime advocate for the campaign finance overhaul, said the no-PAC pledge has always been “more of a signal” than an actual policy.

“Anytime a candidate does anything that impairs his ability to raise money, he has some skin in the game,” McGee said.

Times of National
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