Capitol Health Record is excited to announce our newest feature – “dewonkify.” Every week, we will take a word commonly used inside the Beltway and strip it down to “plain English.” Have a word you’d like dewonkified? Tweet us @drinkerhealthGR with the hashtag #dewonkify or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Word: Super PAC
The Meaning: A political action committee (PAC) that can raise unlimited money from corporations, unions, and individuals to be used on items such as TV and radio ads and direct mailings. They differ from traditional PACs, which must adhere to numerous federal regulations and have limits on donation amounts. Super PACs cannot make direct contributions to candidates or coordinate messaging or strategy with campaign officials.
Used in a Sentence: “Big Last-Minute Donations Fuel Pro-Romney Super PAC” (New York Times headline)
What It Means: The creation of Super PACs is a game changer for federal campaigns. With no limits on contributions, corporations and unions can dominate TV and radio ads for or against a particular candidate. This is the first presidential election since Super PACs have been permitted to be formed, so the immediate and long-term effects aren’t yet known; however, Restore our Future, a Super PAC supporting GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, raised $20 million in the first 17 days of October.
History: The creation of Super PACs resulted from the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (FEC), which ruled that the FEC could not prohibit the amount corporations and unions can raise for independent federal campaign expenditures. Politico credits Eliza Newlin Carney, a Roll Call reporter, for dubbing the term “Super PAC” on June 26, 2010.
*The Drinker Biddle Lobbying & Advocacy Team wishes to thank our friend and colleague Joe Sudbay for inspiring and encouraging us to create a mechanism through which we can help “dewonkify” Washington lingo.