A Political Action Committee (PAC) is a popular term for a political committee whose purpose is to raise and spend money to elect governmental candidates. As a result, most PACs represent many varying interests depending on their industry and political affiliations. Given that PACs donate money for political campaigns, they have to respect several laws enforced by the Federal Elections Commissions (FEC) of the United States.
Learning the basics about PACs
Overall, every PAC has to respect the big three rules when investing money in election results. The first is that the PAC can only provide $5,000 to the candidate committee for each election. The second is to donate up to $15,000 per year to any national party committee.
And the third is that each calendar year, any PAC may receive up to $5,000 from any individual, PAC, or party committee. Lastly, a newly formed PAC must register with FEC within 10 days of its establishment and provide the name and address of its headquarters, its treasurer, and any related organizations.
After the establishment of the Conference of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1944, PACs have been employed by the American government to raise funds for elections.
Here you have the most influential PACs in U.S. politics.
1. National Association of Realtors (NAR)
The National Association of Realtors is a trade association with workers in the real estate industry. Right now, it has over 1.3 million members, including institutions, associations, and councils. These members cover all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industry. NAR also acts as a self-regulatory organization for real estate brokers.
The organization is currently based in Chicago. And this city has been its headquarters since it was founded back on May 12, 1908, as the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges. The current name was adopted in 1972. For the past elections, this was the most influential PAC. It spent over $3,9 million. It tends to support more Democrats (52%) than Republicans (48%).
2. National Beer Wholesalers Association
The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) is a trade association that currently represents more than 2,800 beer distributors and over 130,000 employees in the United States. Last year, its political investment was ranked second in the entire country, which speaks volumes of its political agenda.
NBWA was established in 1938. Right now, it operates in every state and congressional district of the United States. The organization is committed to strengthening and maintaining an alcohol regulatory system to promote an orderly market; establish a transparent and responsible alcohol distribution system to protect American consumers, and encourage alcohol production, distribution, sales, and consumption. To achieve these purposes, it spends millions in Congress.
NBWA spent over $3,1 million in 2020. Over 52% was for Democrat candidates and the rest was for Republicans.
3. Credit Union National Association
The National Association of Credit Unions, commonly known as CUNA, is a national trade association of state and federal licensed credit unions. CUNA offers industry association services for member credit unions, such as lobbying, regulatory advocacy, professional development, and professional service management.
The organization has its headquarters in Washington, DC, and Madison, Wisconsin. For the past years, CUNA is financially supported by membership dues paid by credit unions through fees incurred for services rendered. CUNA also has eight national council professional credit union professional organizations.
These councils are led and served by credit union professionals responsible for enforcing CUNA’s politics for the coming years. In 2020, CUNA spent over $2,8 million in its lobbying duties; 53% was for the Democrats and 47% for the Republicans.
4. American Crystal Sugar
American Crystal Sugar Company is an agricultural cooperative specializing in the production of sugar and other agricultural products. This company is owned by nearly 3,000 shareholders who have grown approximately one-third of the sugar beet plantation in the country.
It has several land contracts scattered around eastern Montana and western North Dakota. It plants most of its products, mainly sugar beet. As the largest beet sugar producer in the United States, the company uses innovative farming methods, low-cost production methods, and sales and marketing leadership to produce and sell approximately 15% of sugar in the United States and to other countries of the world.
The company’s headquarters are also located in Moorehead. In 2020, the American Crystal Sugar spent $2,7 million in campaigns. Over 54% went to Democrats and 45% to Republicans.
5. Comcast Corp
Comcast Corporation is one of the biggest American telecommunications companies in the world. As a matter of fact, in terms of revenue, it is the world’s second-largest broadcast and cable company, the largest pay-TV company, the largest cable company, and the largest residential Internet service provider in the U.S. Additionally, Comcast produces feature films and T.V. programs for theater screenings and over-the-air television broadcasting.
Not much is known about the amount of money spent on lobbying by Comcast. Still, it has a reputation for spending millions. It ranks seventh among any business or individual organization in the United States in terms of expenses. Also, Comcast hired several former U.S. congressmen as lobbyists. It also supports regional lobbying and PACs.
One of the recent victories in Congress for this PAC was passing laws restricting or prohibiting individual cities from providing public broadband services. In 2020, Comcast spent over $2,6 million in lobbying. It tends to support Republican candidates with 54% and almost 46% to Democrats.
6. American Bankers Association
The American Bankers Association (ABA) is among the most prominent banking association in the U.S. Also, it is considered to be the most significant financial business group in the United States. It is located in Washington, DC, and was founded in 1875. It lobbies banks of all sizes and regulations, including community banks, banking districts, currency centers, savings associations, and savings mutual associations.
To understand the level of influence by this PAC, you need to know that the average assets of its member are approximately $250 million.
ABA provides training, certification, publicity, and community services to bankers and members of the financial services industry in the United States.
It is founded back in 1873, making it one of the oldest in the country. In 2020, ABA spent over $2,5 million in lobbying; 31 % went to Democrats and 69% to Republicans.
7. Operating Engineers Union
The International Operating Engineers Union (IUOE) is a union based in the United States. It mainly represents construction workers around the country. They usually work with heavy equipment. Plus, they have multiple contacts to provide services to buildings and industrial complexes in the United States and Canada.
It was established in 1896 and currently represents approximately 400,000 workers in over 150 local unions. IUOE’s predecessor was called the National Union of Steam Engineers, based in Chicago in 1896. In 2020, IUOE spent over $2,5 million in lobbying; 82 % went to Democrats and just 18% to Republicans. Its managing board has been labeled as Democrat for the past few years.
They have guaranteed money to hundreds of Democrat candidates.