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Political Action Committees (PACS)

First authorized under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974, PACs are interest groups that financially support political candidates and parties through funds collected from committee members and donors. PACs began to take root in the 1940s, consisting largely of traditionally organized contributors such as labor unions seeking a means to sidestep stipulations in the Taft-Hartley Act. Since that time, PACs have proliferated, growing from 608 registered groups donating $12 million to congressional races in 1974 to nearly 4,000 entities pushing $178 million into Washington, D.C., just 20 years later. In presidential races, the top-10 PACs donated approximately $123.4 million in 2004 alone. With this financial firepower, PACs have significantly transformed fund-raising practices in the electoral process in terms of contribution patterns, influence on legislative ...

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