What is a hybrid PAC?

A hybrid PAC is the grafting of a super PAC onto a standard nonconnected PAC. The FEC's official name for it is "political committee with non-contribution accounts." Like the super PAC, the hybrid PAC was born out of a suit against the FEC.

Rear Admiral (ret.) James J. Carey, founder and treasurer of the National Defense PAC, brought the suit against the FEC. The NDPAC is a nonconnected committee that contributes to (mostly Republican) candidates who share its hawkish foreign policy views.6 After Citizens United and SpeechNow, Carey thought his PAC should be able to raise and spend unlimited sums of money for independent expenditures while also maintaining the account it used to make contributions. Citing those cases, Carey asked the FEC for an advisory opinion in 2010.

The FEC's general counsel presented the commissioners with two draft opinions. One would have permitted the NDPAC to add an independent expenditures-only account to its existing contributions account; the other would not have permitted it. The FEC deadlocked on each draft. Carey then filed suit against the agency, and the federal district court for the District of Columbia ruled in his favor, permitting him to turn the NDPAC into a hybrid PAC.7

Before Carey, connected and nonconnected PACs could make contributions and independent expenditures from one account, but that account could not accept contributions from corporations and unions, or from individuals in amounts greater than $5,000. Now a nonconnected PAC can have both a "traditional" contribution account and a second "super PAC" account. So far there has been no serious attempt to do the same with connected PACs.8

Hybrid PACs were not the only super PAC problem the FEC had to face. The biggest one was the old issue of coordination with candidates.

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