News Releases, Media Advisories

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   CONTACT:     IAN STIRTON
APRIL 22, 1997                                       RON HARRIS
                                                     SHARON SNYDER
                                                     KELLY HUFF

PAC ACTIVITY INCREASES IN 1995-96 ELECTION CYCLE

WASHINGTON -- Financial activity by political action committees (PACs) increased during the 1995-96 election cycle, according to figures compiled by the Federal Election Commission. From January 1, 1995, through December 31, 1996, PACs raised $437.4 million, an increase of 12% over 1994, and spent $429.9 million, up 11% over 1994. Cash on hand as of December 31, 1996, totalled $103.9 million.

PACs contributed $217.8 million to federal candidates during the 1995-96 cycle, up $28.5 million (15%) when compared to the previous two-year cycle. Most of the money, $203.9 million, went to candidates seeking election in 1995-96. The remaining $13.9 million went to candidates running for office in future years, or to debt retirement for candidates in past cycles. Incumbents received $146.4 million, challengers were given $31.6 million, and open seat candidates $39.8 million. This represents a lower proportion of contributions to incumbents than has been common in recent election cycles.

The following table shows the distribution of contributions to incumbents, challengers, and open seat races over six election cycles (in millions of dollars).

AMOUNT & PERCENTAGE OF PAC CONTRIBUTIONS ACCORDING TO CANDIDATE STATUS


                                                                                          

             1995-96     1993-94      1991-92        1989-90        1987-88      1985-86             

Incumbents  $146.4 67%   $137.2  72%   $135.3 72%   $125.8  79%   $118.2 74%   $96.2  69%  
                                                                                           

Challengers $31.6  15%   $19.0   10%   $22.9  12%   $16.2   10%   $18.9  12%   $19.9  14%  
                                                                                     

      Open  $39.8  18%   $33.4   18%   $30.7  16%   $17.1   11%   $22.2  14%   $23.8  17%  
     Seats                                                                                 



For the first time in recent years, Republican candidates received more PAC contributions than their Democratic counterparts. The disparity between the parties was not as great, however, as it had been in previous cycles when the Democrats controlled both chambers in Congress. Republicans received $118.2 million from PACs, up $46.5 million from the previous cycle, while Democrats received $98.9 million, down $18.8 million from the 1993-94 cycle.

The following chart provides PAC contributions and percentages by political party over several election cycles (in millions of dollars).

AMOUNT & PERCENTAGE OF PAC CONTRIBUTIONS BY PARTY


              1995-96        1993-94        1991-92        1989-90        1987-88       1985-86       

  SENATE                                                                                              

  DEMOCRATS  $19.4    35%   $26.8    50%   $31.8    57%   $24.8    51%   $28.3    55%   $22.7    45%  

 REPUBLICAN  $36.1    65%   $26.7    50%   $23.9    43%   $23.9    49%   $23.4    45%   $27.4    55%  

                                                                                                      

   HOUSE                                                                                              

  DEMOCRATS  $79.4    50%   $90.7    67%   $88.1    67%   $73.3    67%   $68.4    66%   $56.1    63%  

 REPUBLICAN  $79.7    50%   $45.0    33%   $43.7    33%   $36.9    33%   $35.7    34%   $33.5    37%  



Contributions to 1996 Senate campaigns increased $1.9 million to $45.6 million from 1994, while contributions to House races increased $23.9 million to $155.8 million. The following table shows the total amount as well as the distribution of PAC contributions between Senate and House candidates over several cycles (in millions of dollars).

PAC CONTRIBUTIONS

  All               95-96   93-94   91-92  89-90   87-88   85-86  83-84  81-82  79-80 77-78 
Federal                                                                                     

Candidates         $217.8  $189.6  $188.9 $159.1  $159.2  $139.8 $113.0  $87.6  $60.2 $35.2 
                                                                                 

                                                                                            

Current            $203.9  $179.6  $179.4 $149.7  $151.1  $132.7 $105.3  $83.6  $55.2 $34.1 
Candidates                                                                                    
                                                                                      

                    $45.6  $47.2   $51.2   $41.2  $45.7   $45.3   $29.7  $22.5  $17.3  $9.7 
 Senate                                                                                     

                   $155.8  $132.4  $127.4 $108.5  $102.2  $87.4   $75.7  $61.1  $37.9 $24.4 
 House                                                                                      


In addition to the $217.8 million in contributions, PACs made $10.6 million in independent expenditures for and against candidates, a $5.5 million increase over the previous cycle. Of the $10.6 million, $6.8 million was spent on behalf of various candidates and $3.8 million was spent against them. Most of the money, $9.1 million, was spent in Congressional races. In the Presidential campaign, PAC independent spending dropped from $4 million in 1992 to $1.4 million in 1996.*

The following pages provide data on PAC financial activity for the 1995-96 election cycle and comparable summary statistics for several previous election cycles. Other tables show the distribution of PACs by total amount spent and total contributed to candidates. Also included are the rankings of the "Top 50" PACs in various categories, such as money raised and spent.

This news release and accompanying statistics can be found on the FEC's World Wide Web site, htp://www.fec.gov.

* Some organizations sponsoring PACs may also have participated in issue advocacy campaigns during 1996. These activities, which do not advocate the election or defeat of a candidate, are not reported to the FEC.