What are nonconnected PACs?

Nonconnected PACs are not sponsored by organizations. The drawback to having no sponsor is that nonconnected PACs must pay the costs of establishing and administering themselves from the contributions they receive. The benefit is that they are not restricted in whom they can solicit for contributions. Connected PACs must solicit only people who are members, officers, or shareholders of their sponsoring organizations, but nonconnected PACs can solicit anyone.

For decades, nonconnected PACs tended to be formed for ideological or partisan purposes. Of the twenty-five biggest nonconnected PACs active in 2015, twelve were ideological groups—six conservative/Republican, six liberal/Democratic. There were also four other partisan committees—all Republican—called leadership PACs, which are the personal PACs of politicians. Politicians use them to maintain or create support networks by giving money to other politicians, but they cannot use them to finance their own election campaigns.19

Super PACs are the newest kind of nonconnected PACs. The FEC's term for them, "Independent Expenditure-Only Political Committees," may be ponderously legalistic, but it also accurately describes what they do. They only make independent expenditures, which they can finance by soliciting contributions of unlimited size from corporations and labor unions, as well as from individuals. Super PACs are the subject of chapter 6.

 
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