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For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Judith Ingram

April 24, 2009

Mary Brandenberger

Julia Queen

    Christian Hilland

Growth in PAC Financial Activity Slows

WASHINGTON—Financial activity by political action committees continued its upward climb in 2007-2008, according to figures compiled by the Federal Election Commission, though at a slower rate than in recent election cycles. From Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2008, PACs raised $1.2 billion, up 10.5 percent over 2005-2006, and spent $1.18 billion, up 11.8 percent over the previous two-year cycle. Comparable growth rates ranged from 18% to more than 30% during 2004 and 2006. Cash on hand as of Dec. 31, 2008, for the 5,210 PACs totaled $308.6 million.

PAC contributions to federal candidates in 2007-2008 totaled $412.8 million, up 11 percent over 2005-2006. Most of the money--$385.9 million—was given to candidates seeking election in 2008.  The remaining $27 million went to candidates running for office in future years, or to debt retirement for candidates in past cycles.

The following table summarizes PAC contributions to all federal candidates from 1998 through 2008 and shows contributions to candidates running in the given election years:

2008

2006

2004

2002

2000

1998

All Federal

Candidates

$412.8

$372.1

$310.5

$282.0

$259.8

$219.9

Current Candidates

$385.9

$348.0

$292.1

$266.1

$247.9

$206.8

    Senate

$79.9

$68.8

$63.7

$59.2

$51.9

$48.1

    House

$301.6

$279.2

$225.4

$206.9

$193.4

$158.7

(millions of dollars)

Incumbents continued to receive most of the PAC contributions, as they have in previous elections.  The following table shows the distribution of contributions according to incumbents, challengers, and open seat races over six election cycles.

2008

2006

2004

2002

2000

1998

Incumbents

$304.7

79%

$279.3

80%

$246.8

80%

$213.4

76%

$195.4

75%

$170.9

78%

Challengers

$48.8

13%

$36.3

11%

$22.3

7%

$28.5

10%

$27.5

11%

$22.1

10%

Open Seats

$32.4

8%

$32.4

  9%

$41.3

13%

$40.2

14%

$36.9

14%

$27.0

12%

(millions of dollars)

House candidates received $308.3 million from PACs, up 7.8 percent from the previous cycle, while Senate candidates received $100.1 million, up 16.3 percent over the 2005-2006 cycle. Republican congressional candidates received $178.9 million, a decrease of 13.9 percent from the previous cycle, while Democrats received $233.9 million, an increase of 44.9 percent.

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

2008

2006

2004

2002

2000

1998

SENATE

DEM

$46.0

46%

$35.3

42%

$33.2

44%

$31.9

46%

$23.9

39%

$20.7

43%

REP

$54.1

54%

$48.0

58%

$42.8

56%

$38.1

54%

$37.4

61%

$27.3

57%

HOUSE

DEM

$185.7

60%

$126.1

44%

$100.5

43%

$104.6

49%

$99.2

51%

$77.6

49%

REP

$122.5

40%

$159.7

56%

$130.7

57%

$107.2

51%

$96.2

49%

$80.7

51%

            In addition to the $412.8 million in contributions, PACs made $135.2 million in independent expenditures for and against candidates, resulting in more than a 250 percent increase over the 2005-2006 cycle, and more than a 100 percent increase over 2003-2004, another presidential election cycle. Of the $135.2 million, $85.3 million was spent on behalf of various candidates and $49.8 million was spent against them.

PAC Independent Expenditures on Behalf of Candidates

2008

2006

2004

2002

2000

1998

President

$61,008,538

$35,641,990

$5,704,475

Senate

$9,005,527

$9,308,217

$6,756,565

$7,680,345

$4,448,447

$1,963,748

House

$14,904,889

$13,193,910

$4,914,938

$4,557,827

$6,109,620

$5,584,502

PAC Independent Expenditures Against Candidates

2008

2006

2004

2002

2000

1998

President

$37,764,345

$7,828,869

$416,620

Senate

$5,327,080

$1,753,882

$325,034

$794,549

$2,339,778

$795,343

House

$6,717,633

$12,904,845

$516,543

$451,603

$1,618,181

$680,505

            Some PACs (mostly non-connected committees) also maintain nonfederal accounts and must therefore use a combination of federal and nonfederal funds to pay for activities that relate to both federal and state or local elections (e.g. overhead expenses, etc.). In addition to the federal receipts and disbursements discussed above, PACs reported spending a total of $21,810,174 in nonfederal funds (sometimes called “soft” money) for these shared expenses in 2007-2008.  The following table lists PAC nonfederal spending in each two-year election cycle since 1998:

2008

$21,810,174

2006

$27,192,527

2004

$144,472,149

2002

$24,243,784

2000

$26,420,243

1998

$15,806,691

            The top five committees reporting nonfederal spending in 2007-2008:

Top Five PACs by

Nonfederal Share of Allocated Expenses

2007-2008

Nonfederal Share

Total Reported Spending

Emily’s List

$9,904,135

$34,965,661

Democracy for America

$1,266,198

$4,300,324

21st Century Democrats

$1,128,726

$3,803,870

ACTBLUE

$835,664

$54,382,729

Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York

$582,846

$2,280,173

            The tables below provide data on PAC financial activity for 2007-2008 and comparable summary statistics for several previous election cycles. Other tables show the distribution of PACs by total amount spent and total amount contributed to candidates. Rankings of the “Top 50” PACs in various categories, such as money raised and spent, are also included.

            This release and accompanying statistics can be found on the FEC website at www.fec.gov under Press Office.

            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 of Representatives, 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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This release and accompanying statistics can be found on FEC’s website at www.fec.gov under Press Office.

Tables

PAC Financial Activity 2007-2008[excel]  [pdf]

PAC Contributions to Candidates [excel]  [pdf]

PAC Independent Expenditures [excel]  [pdf]

Summary of PAC Activity 1990-2008 [excel]  [pdf]

PAC Contributions to Candidates 1996-2008[excel]  [pdf]

PACs Grouped by Total Disbursements [excel]  [pdf]

PACs Grouped by Contributions to Candidates [excel]  [pdf]

Top 50 PACs

Top 50 Corporate PACs

Top 50 Labor PACs

Top 50 Non Connected PACs

Top 50 Trade/Membership/Health PACs

Top 50 Cooperative PACs

Top 50 Corporation without Stock PACs

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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