Number of Federal PACs Increases
WASHINGTON – The number of federally registered political action committees (PACs) increased by 9 percent from 4,234 on January 1, 2008, to 4,611 by January 1, 2009.
For more than 20 years, the number of active PACs has ranged from approximately 3,800 to about 4,600. While the overall total has remained steady, new committees continue to register in numbers roughly equal to those that terminate their activity in each cycle.
The number of non-connected PACs increased the most, up 23 percent from 2008 with 1,594 committees. Corporate committees increased by less than 1 percent, yet they make up the largest group of registered PACs at 1,598. As of January 1, 2009, 103 committees sponsored by nonstock corporations had registered with the FEC as well as 272 labor, 995 trade/membership/health, and 49 cooperative committees.
PACs sponsored by corporations and labor organizations are "separate segregated funds" and must register within 10 days of being established. Non-connected PACs (those that are not connected to or sponsored by a corporation or labor organization, and which are not related to a candidate's campaign or to a political party organization) must register within 10 days after certain financial activity exceeds $1,000 during a calendar year.
Registration does not necessarily imply financial activity. Many PACs report making no contributions to candidates or independent expenditures advocating for or against candidates.
Beginning in March, committees must disclose new information on their status to comply with regulations resulting from the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (HLOGA), known as the lobbyist bundling rules. A political committee that is directly or indirectly established, financed, maintained or controlled by a candidate for Federal office but which is not an authorized committee of the candidate or individual and which is not affiliated with an authorized committee of the candidate or individual must identify itself as a “Leadership PAC.” In addition, any political committee that is “established or controlled” by a lobbyist/registrant must identify itself as a “lobbyist/registrant PAC” on FEC forms. Registered committees must amend their Statements of Organization (the FEC form required to establish a committee) by March 29. Committees that register with the FEC on or after March 19 will have to identify themselves as Leadership PACs and/or lobbyist/registrant PACs. For more information on lobbyist bundling, see the FEC’s frequently asked questions.
The following chart details the number of PACs in existence since the end of 1974.
PAC COUNT- 1974 TO PRESENT
(semi-annual) January 2009
PAC COUNT - 1974 TO PRESENT
(semi-annual) January 2008
Footnotes for Chart:
*For 1974-76, these numbers represent all other PACs. No further categorization is available.
1 During the first six months of 1997, 227 PACs were administratively terminated because of inactivity.
2 During the second six months of 2005, 189 PACs were administratively terminated because of inactivity.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Established in 1975, the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
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